On June 1, FX and Ryan Murphy’s drama series Pose premiered. Murphy has written and directed mega-hit series like Glee and American Horror Story, and his trademark is combining well crafted characters and issues with visual aplomb, wit, and intelligence.
Our hopes for Pose are high. It’s a dance drama TV series, and it just happens to feature more transgender characters and actors than any show so far in history.
Pose is about stories and characters set in the “ball culture” of the 1980s dance and gay underground, a burgeoning civil rights movement that was set in the clubs where trans women and LGBT folks could gather safely and be accepted.
The show promises more than token trans representation. Transgender characters are not featured in yet another coming out or finding herself story, as necessary as those are. The creators are rather, committed to fleshing out whole characters whose lives are about more than coming to terms with their identity and the ensuing struggles. Their lives are full of the same everyday struggles and triumphs as anyone else’s.
Janet Mock is a trans activist and also a writer/producer of Pose, and she told The Salt Lake Tribune that she is “most interested… by the fact that we see trans characters beyond the struggle with their bodies… For me, the greatest takeaway would be just to see these characters in their fullness beyond just their trans-ness. I think that there is that history-making piece of this show.”
Mock explains that in the show, transgender people are full humans, getting together with “one another and having problematic politics… having problematic relationships, exploring race, class, gender and sexuality in a way that is accessible, so that we can bring our audience along with us.”
It was really important to creator Ryan Murphy to give transgender people a voice in entertainment. 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.
Indya Moore is a stunning New Yorker who has modelled for Gucci and Vogue. Equally gorgeous is Dominique Jackson, from Tobago, who overcame addiction and homelessness to adopt Michael Jackson’s last name as her stage name and become a fashion model and actress. Hailie Sahar is a singer and transgender activist.
We eagerly await the unfolding episodes of this wonderful show!
If you’ve seen Pose, let us know what you think.