August 7, 2013

Orange is the New Black, the acclaimed new Netflix drama, has hooked fans with its fish-out-of-water tale of a WASPy soap designer who is sentenced to prison. But it’s another unlikely character who has snared the attention of the audience, and now television programmers are taking notice.

Orange is perhaps the first popular show to feature a black transgender woman as a sympathetic lead character. Following the show’s successful debut, transgender characters appear poised to enter a number of other programs, ushering in a new chapter for television.

The Sundance Channel recently green lit a series about a transgender man. Chelsea Handler will play a transgender woman on Lisa Kudrow’s Web Therapy on Showtime next season. The woman Donald Trump kicked out of the Miss Universe Canada Pageant last year for being transgender will star in her own reality show on E! Canada. The BBC Writer’s Room held a contest earlier this year asking for comedic scripts about transgender characters, with money to produce the pilot for the network as the grand prize. And the character Unique, who is a transgender woman, will return as a recurring character on Glee next season. (Originally the character was only contracted for 2 episodes this past season.)