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    21 Times Actors Who Aren't Actually Transgender Have Played Trans Characters

    Despite Laverne Cox's success on Orange Is The New Black, Hollywood still has a lot of work to do regarding trans visibility.

    Actress Laverne Cox has dazzled viewers as transgender prison inmate Sophia Burset on Orange is the New Black. Many of the accolades come from the trans community, as Cox's work as Sophia has raised awareness about casting trans performers as trans characters. While performers including Candis Cayne, Calpernia Addams, and Harmony Santana have won film and television roles in the past, these casting choices are rare.

    What television and film audiences usually see are cisgender men and women performing as a trans characters. Sometimes these roles are played for laughs, sometimes not. Often, trans women are portrayed as hyper-feminized versions of women, with exaggerated makeup, wardrobe, or mannerisms. In the case of male actors playing trans women this is especially problematic, as it can provide ammunition for people who claim that trans women are just like drag queens, another kind of men in dresses. Some people suggest that acting is acting, and make the comparison of straight actors playing gay men or women (and vice versa), but the fact is that a trans woman is a woman, and a trans man is a man. Despite the increasing availability of trans performers, trans people are frequently played by cisgender actors, and far too often by performers of the wrong gender.

    Here's a roughly chronological sampling of 21 times this has happened.

    1. Chris Sarandon in Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

    2. Veronica Redd as Edie Stokes on The Jeffersons (1977)

    3. William Finlay as Bobbi/Bobby & Michael Caine as Dr. Elliott in Dressed to Kill (1980)

    4. John Lithgow as Roberta Muldoon in The World According to Garp (1982)

    5. Karen Black in Come Back to the Five and Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)

    6. John Shuck as Gil Kessler in The Golden Girls (1982)

    7. Jaye Davidson as Dil in The Crying Game (1992)

    8. Olympia Dukakis as Mrs. Madrigal in Tales of the City (1993)

    9. Terence Stamp as Bernadette, in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

    10. Hilary Swank as Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

    11. John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

    12. Lee Pace as Calpernia Addams in Soldier’s Girl (2003)

    13. Felicity Huffman in TransAmerica (2005)

    14. Sofia Vergara as Loridonna in Grilled (2006)

    15. Daniela Sea as Moira/Max on The L Word (2006-09), and as Blake on Law & Order: SVU (2009)

    16. Jai Rodriguez as Amanda Knott in Harry’s Law (2012)

    17. Jeffrey Carlson as Zoe/Zarf on All My Children (2007)

    18. Walton Goggins as Venus van Damme in Sons of Anarchy (2012)

    19. Chloe Sevigny as Mia in Hit & Miss (2012)

    20. Alex Newell as Wade/Unique on Glee (2012-present)

    21. Jeffrey Tambor as Mort in Transparent (forthcoming from Amazon)