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Trans-inclusive TV dominates GLAAD Media Award nominations

More than half of the television shows nominated across three categories feature transgender or nonbinary characters.
Image: E.R. Fightmaster, right, as Dr Kai Bartley on Grey's Anatomy.
E.R. Fightmaster, right, a nonbinary actor and producer, as Dr. Kai Bartley on "Grey's Anatomy," and Caterina Scorsone, left, as Amelia Shepherd.ABC

TV shows featuring transgender and nonbinary people dominated the media award nominations released Wednesday by the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD.

Every year since 1990, GLAAD has honored films, television shows, musicians, journalists and other media figures for fair, accurate and inclusive representations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people.

Of the 30 television shows nominated in three categories — outstanding comedy series, outstanding drama series and outstanding new TV series — 18 feature transgender and/or nonbinary characters, including “Pose,” “9-1-1: Lone Star,” “Good Trouble,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The L Word: Generation Q,” “Star Trek: Discovery” and “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” 

Image: Ian Alexander as Gray of the Paramount+ original series Star Trek: Discovery.
Ian Alexander as Gray of the Paramount+ original series "Star Trek: Discovery."Michael Gibson / Paramount+

This year’s list includes 246 nominees across 30 categories — up from 198 nominees across 28 categories last year. This year GLAAD added two categories: outstanding new TV series and outstanding original graphic novel/anthology.

“Media can create positive change and this year’s nominees represent powerful projects, stories, and creators that positively shifted culture and enlightened audiences with new and impactful LGBTQ stories,” Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO, said in a statement. “There are more nominees this year than ever before, highlighting a growing landscape of LGBTQ visibility, and serving as a reminder to the critical role that film, television, music, journalism, and other forms of media can play in growing LGBTQ acceptance in the face of ongoing attacks against our community.” 

Many of the nominees in other categories also featured trans characters or told the stories of trans people “in timely, nuanced, and empowering ways,” GLAAD said, in the deadliest year on record for trans people. Also in the last year, dozens of states considered legislation to ban trans girls from female school sports teams and block trans youths’ access to gender-affirming health care. 

Other nominated shows and films featuring trans and nonbinary people include “West Side Story,” “Changing the Game,” “Legendary,” “Queer Eye,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” “We’re Here,” “Port Authority” and “The Loud House.”

Of the 10 nominees for outstanding video game, six feature trans and nonbinary characters, including “Boyfriend Dungeon,” “Far Cry 6,” “The Gardener and the Wild Vines” and “Life is Strange: True Colors.” 

Transgender and nonbinary characters appear in five of the nominated comic books and graphic novels, including the two anthologies: “DC Pride” and “Marvel’s Voices: Pride.”

GLAAD noted that many of the nominations in journalism also featured trans people or highlighted issues affecting the trans community.

NBC News, MSNBC and NBC’s “TODAY” show garnered a combined seven nominations, with NBC News Digital receiving nominations for “TransAmerica” for outstanding TV journalism, long form, and “As anti-trans violence surges, advocates demand policy reform“ for outstanding online journalism article. 

Though many of GLAAD’s nominees centered on trans stories, GLAAD’s latest “Where We Are on TV” report released last year found a year-over-year decrease in the number of transgender characters on TV. The group attributed the decline to the pandemic and the fact that several shows with prominent trans characters were not expected to return. 

However, transgender actress Angelica Ross, who starred in Ryan Murphy’s “Pose,” told NBC News last year that she believes the drop in representation is due to a lack of effort in Hollywood.

Image: Angelica Ross as Candy in "Pose."
Angelica Ross as Candy in "Pose."JoJo Whilden / FX

“As to be expected, a good percentage of the movement for diversity was performative and predictable,” Ross said. “Many of my trans colleagues who are creators saw this coming well before it started happening. It is why folks like myself, Rain Valdez, Janet Mock, Shakina Nayfack and others are using our space in the industry to create more roles and create more space for truly diverse storytelling.”

Though GLAAD’s report found that overall LGBTQ representation was down — as well as trans representation — it also found that LGBTQ people of color on TV outnumbered their white counterparts for the first time in the 25 years that GLAAD has been keeping track. 

Similarly, a significant number of this year’s nominees feature the stories of LGBTQ people of color, according to GLAAD. Those nominees in the film and television categories include “Tick, Tick ... Boom!,” “Breaking Fast,” “Gossamer Folds,” “The Obituary of Tunde Johnson,” “Plan B” and “Tu Me Manques.” 

Many LGBTQ artists of color were also nominated for outstanding music artist or outstanding breakthrough music artist, including Lil Nas X, Halsey, Kaytranada, Demi Lovato, Arlo Parks and Japanese Breakfast. 

Award winners will be announced during two live ceremonies: in Los Angeles in April, and in New York City in May. The full list of nominees can be found on GLAAD’s website.

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