Amazon tonight entered the Emmy winning circle at its first Primetime Emmy Awards, three statuettes for Jill Soloway’s acclaimed comedy Transparent. The wins included guest actor in a comedy series for Bradley Whitford in his role as cross-dresser Marcy.
This is believed to be the first Emmy Award for an actor playing a “trans” character — the term used for several categories of men and women asserting gender identity, including cross-dressers and transgender people.
Cross-dressing on TV has largely been used as a comic device or a plot twist, with the roles rarely getting awards attention. A couple of transgender performances have earned nominations in the past — Vanessa Redgrave for her portrayal of transgender professional tennis player Renee Richards in the 1986 CBS movie Second Serve, and Tom Wilkinson for playing factory worker Roy transitioning into Ruth in the 2003 HBO movie Normal. Last year, Laverne Cox, who plays a transgender character on Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black, made history by becoming the first transgender actor to land an Emmy nomination.
Whitford, a 2001 Emmy winner for The West Wing, may be joined next Sunday by his Transparent co-star Jeffrey Tambor, an odds-on favorite to win the best actor in a comedy series Emmy for his starring role as the transgender Maura on the Amazon series. Like Tambor, who made an emotional speech at the Golden Globes, dedicating his win to the transgender community, Whitford spoke of Transparent’s mission tonight.
“I love to be in a show that is a voice of understanding, compassion and radical inclusion,” he said. “We’re not there yet, but non-judgment day is coming.”