There are many movies and TV shows about the sexy, fun, and sometimes troubled world of trans women. With such a variety, you’re sure to find the right entertainment to suit your mood.
Here are some of the top trans movies of all time, from big names to the more obscure.
Transamerica is a personal journey towards self-discovery. Bree is about to undergo SRS when she receives a phone call from her 17-year-old drug-dealing son Toby. Bree is unaware she had a son but develops a relationship with him.
The two bond through their adventures with sexuality, family strife, and a thieving peyote shaman.
The film was a landmark in the transgender community, and won 2 Oscars, 28 other awards, and received 12 nominations.
2. Wonder Boys
In the 2000 drama/comedy Wonder Boys, author Grady Tripp teaches while unsuccessfully trying to write his second novel. Grady’s third wife leaves him and through his divorce, he continues an affair with the university chancellor, who then becomes pregnant with his child.
A dead dog, stolen Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, and several love triangles are sewn throughout the film to help Grady finally develop the perfect ending to his novel.
The cast of Wonder Boys includes Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Robert Downey, Jr., and Frances McDormand.
Tomboy takes place during a ten-year-old girl’s (Laure) summer holiday. Laure inserts herself into the daily sports activities of the neighborhood boys and introduces herself as Mickael.
With its beautiful scenic shots and sparsely-written script, Tomboy is all at once simple, complex, straightforward, and poetic. Although the conversation was kept to a minimum, the wordless communication between the three children was enough to fully engage the viewer as it was a meaningful dialogue on childhood and gender confusion.
4. Becoming Chaz
Chaz, (formerly Chastity), first came out to his parents, Cher and Sonny Bono, as a lesbian at the age of 18. He began his female-to-male gender transition in 2007. Between 2008 and 2010 the documentary Becoming Chaz detailed much of this process.
The film covers the pre and post-surgery time period when Chaz had his breasts removed. It’s an intense process that exposes all the emotional ups and downs Chaz and his partner go through.
Chaz is now a spokesperson for the transgender community, has written on the subject of transitioning, and is an advocate for LGBT rights.
5. Boy Meets Girl
The 2014 movie, Boy Meets Girl, is a romantic comedy which examines some of the issues faced by a young trans woman (Michelle Hendley) living in the southern states. It’s engaging and heartwarming and covers a lot of important ground in a humorous and sensitive way.
When Ricky meets her wealthy and engaged-to-be-married love interest, Francesca (Alexandra Turshen), the focus turns to the importance of living the life you want to live instead of the life that is expected of you.
6. Dallas Buyers Club
In Dallas Buyers Club, Jared Leto portrays a controversial character named Rayon, a drug-addicted and HIV-positive trans woman.
Many in the community felt that it would have been better if a real trans person played the role and felt that choosing a cis-gendered white male was somewhat discriminatory. However, positive reviews praised Leto’s acting and thought his portrayal of Rayon helped the mainstream, and those without experience or understanding of trans women, to learn more about their struggles.
Of course, the Academy’s recognition was a big help in putting this small-budget transgender movie on the map as well, and Jared Leto’s performance won him an Academy Award.
7. Laurence Anyways
Laurence Anyways features Laurence, a popular high school teacher, who creates waves by explaining to his partner that he has always felt like a woman trapped inside a man’s body.
Laurence (Melvil Poupaud) and Fred (his female lover played by Suzanne Clément) are enjoying a passionate affair, when in 1989, Laurence announces suddenly that he wants to be a woman. A ten-year journey follows with all the trials and tribulations one might expect.
8. Myra Breckinridge
Myra Breckinridge is a 1970 comedy adapted from Myra Breckinridge by Gore Vidal, a book that is considered “part of a major cultural assault on the assumed norms of gender and sexuality which swept the western world in the late 1960s and early 1970s”(1).
Myron Breckinridge starts to undergo SRS to become Myra. A film buff, Myra travels to Hollywood to claim her uncle’s estate. Once there, she begins teaching classes that sexually drive her behavior, leading her to some strange, sexually charged parties. Later, a car accident forces her to make life-altering decisions.
Cast: Mae West, John Huston, Raquel Welch, Farrah Fawcett.
(1) Altman, Dennis. Gore Vidal’s America. Cambridge UK: Polity Press, 2005. P. 132.
9. The Crying Game
A British soldier is kidnapped by IRA terrorists in The Crying Game. He befriends one of his captors, who is drawn into the soldier’s world.
Stars: Stephen Rea, Jaye Davidson, Forest Whitaker, Miranda Richardson
10. Farewell My Concubine
Farewell My Concubine is the story of two men, who met as apprentices in the Peking Opera, and stayed friends for over 50 years.
Stars: Leslie Cheung, Fengyi Zhang, Li Gong, Qi Lü
11. Ma Vie en Rose
Ludovic is a small boy who cross-dresses and generally acts like a girl, talks of marrying his neighbor’s son, and can not understand why everyone is so surprised about it.
Stars: Georges Du Fresne, Michèle Laroque, Jean-Philippe Écoffey, Hélène Vincent
12. Boys Don’t Cry
Boys Don’t Cry is the story of the life of Brandon Teena, a transgendered teen who preferred life in a male identity until it was discovered he was born biologically female.
Stars: Hilary Swank, Chloë Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard, Brendan Sexton III
13. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
A transexual punk rock girl from East Berlin tours the US with her rock band as she tells her life story and follows the ex-boyfriend/bandmate who stole her songs.
Stars: John Cameron Mitchell, Miriam Shor, Stephen Trask, Theodore Liscinski
14. Soldier’s Girl
The true story of a young soldier beaten to death for falling in love with a transgendered nightclub performer.
Stars: Troy Garity, Lee Pace, Andre Braugher, Shawn Hatosy
15. An Englishman in New York
An Englishman in New York is a 2009 biographical drama film that chronicles the English gay writer Quentin Crisp’s later years spent in New York City.
Stars: John Hurt, Cynthia Nixon, Jonathan Tucker
Young nobleman Orlando is commanded by Queen Elizabeth I to stay forever young. Miraculously, he does just that.
Stars: Tilda Swinton, Billy Zane, Quentin Crisp, John Bott
17. Pink Flamingos
In Pink Flamingos, notorious Baltimore criminal and underground figure Divine goes up against Connie & Raymond Marble, a sleazy married couple who make a passionate attempt to humiliate her and seize her tabloid-given title as “The Filthiest Person Alive”.
Stars: Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole
Other transgender movies to check out:
18. The Badge (Crime/Thriller, 2002) Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Patricia Arquette, Sela Ward.
19. All About My Mother (Drama, 1999) Cast: Penélope Cruz, Cecilia Roth.
20. M. Butterfly (Drama/Romance, 1993) Cast: Jeremy Irons, John Lone.
Transgender TV Shows
When you’re cuddling on the couch with your trans girlfriend, you may be looking for TV shows that highlight real-life trans issues.
In the past, transgender people have been portrayed in derogatory or comical ways in mainstream media, but these TV shows present the real problems faced by those who do not conform to gender norms.
Transgender TV is changing the culture at its core and increasing diverse visibility.
In the past few years, transgender characters have been all over television. Some are complex and nuanced representations, and some are in woefully transphobic scripts as a psycho killer embittered by botched reassignment surgery. We’ve got to iron out the whole cis actor playing a trans role thing, and we’ll need more range for talented trans actors to shine in, but we’re moving forward and that’s great news for TV.
Here are some television shows featuring transgender women or trans characters.
Ryan Murphy has written and directed mega-hit series like Glee and American Horror Story. In Pose, the stories and characters are set in the “ball culture” of the 1980s dance and gay underground, a burgeoning civil rights movement that took place in the clubs where trans women and LGBT folks could gather safely and be accepted.
it just happens to feature more transgender characters and actors than any show so far in history.
Historically, when landmark films and television featured transgender characters, they were usually played by cisgender actors. Talents like Hillary Swank and Jaye Davidson did exemplary roles in Boys Don’t Cry and The Crying Game, but transgender actors need work and exposure and Murphy is committed to that reality.
MJ Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Hailie Sahar, and Angelica Ross are some of the transgender actors in Pose.
2. Hit and Miss
Hit and Miss was a wonderful TV series, intelligently constructed and well-acted. The smart and stunning Chloe Sevigny plays a trans woman and contract killer.
Hit and Miss was written and produced by Paul Abbott, whose other gems include Shameless and State of Play.
Of course, as much as we adore Sevigny, we are also pleased that now years later, it’s becoming expected that trans characters be played by actual trans women.
Written and produced by Lee Daniels, Star is some kind of pseudo-street version of the Destiny’s Child story, with a talented lead singer and two beautiful backup singers. Except two of them get fostered by Queen Latifah who plays a church mama with a conservative slant to balance out all the hot, sexy, fast girls singing R&B on the show.
Queen Latifah’s daughter on the show is a transgender woman named Cotton. And Cotton actually is played by a trans woman, Amiyah Scott, and she is gorgeous.
Star tells real trans stories from a real trans perspective… and they are a trans woman of color. Breaking so many barriers and boundaries at once, it’s unreal.
Watch “You Don’t Know Me” from season 2 of Star:
4. Orange Is the New Black
While not the main character, Sophia Burset is part of the prison group featured in the show. Sophia, played by Emmy-nominated trans actress Laverne Cox, fights the system to get the proper dosage of hormones to maintain her transition. Even her crime, credit card fraud, was brought on by the desire to make more money to further her transition.
The TV show also deals with her changing relationship with her son, who has a hard time accepting her transition, and her wife, who is very supportive.
There’s another trans woman of color who is making heads turn on TV and she is Laverne Cox. You probably already know her from Orange is the New Black where she played Sophia Burset, the woman who committed fraud to help pay for her transition.
Laverne also starred in CBS legal drama Doubt. She plays a lead character in this television show about a lawyer at a boutique firm who becomes romantically involved with a client who may or may not be guilty of a heinous crime.
6. Pretty Little Liars (spoiler alert!)
This TV show was a bit of a mess—cis actress Vanessa Ray is outed at the last minute as a trans woman AND as the villain, having gone mental due to her dad’s transphobia.
It’s a painful effort to capitalize on being a woke show, but a plainer character—a Starbucks barista, or someone’s date—would have been way better.
In the transgender TV show, Transparent, Jeffrey Tambor stars as a trans woman who is transitioning later in life and dealing with her three adult children.
Transparent was was helmed by Jill Soloway, a writer and later executive producer for HBO’s Six Feet Under. Transparent is based on her experiences with her own father coming out as transgender.
Long an activist and supporter of the LGBT community, Soloway enacted what she calls a “Trans-affirmative action program,” hiring transgender people to appear in and staff the show, with 20 trans people hired in the cast and crew, and more than 60 trans persons employed as extras.
Transparent swept the Golden Globes, winning Best Comedy Series and Tambor for Best actor in a comedy series, and picked up another five awards from The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GELECA). In his acceptance speech at the Golden globes, Tambor opened with six powerful words: “This is much bigger than me.”
The road to full acceptance has been long and difficult, and there’s certainly a long way still to go, but it really does feel like we’re now on the positive side of the transgender tipping point, and it feels good.
Looking for more transgender media?
What are your favorite transgender movies and TV shows? What did we miss?