How Caitlyn Jenner Influenced the New Season of Amazon's 'Transparent'
When Transparent premiered on Amazon Studios in September 2014, a comedy about a parent coming out as a transgender woman to her wife and adult children broke ground on television. Nearly a year later, a parallel plot unfolded—this time on "reality" TV—as Caitlyn Jenner documented her new life as a woman and her relationships to her famous family on the E! docuseries I Am Cait.
Jenner no doubt helped familiarize mainstream viewers with a range of transgender issues, and as Transparent heads into its second season, which begins on Dec. 4, the fictional series is benefiting from the learning curve Jenner initiated.
Transparent, which is loosely inspired by Soloway's experiences with her transgender parent, initially caught some flak for casting a non-transgender actor for the role of Maura but has since evolved to include a range of transgender voices—not just in front of the camera but behind the scenes as well. In a June interview with TakePart, Transparent coproducer and transgender consultant Rhys Ernst said the show could well be the most transgender-inclusive production in Hollywood history, owing to Soloway's trans-affirmative hiring initiative—whose efforts have included recruiting transgender singer and scribe Our Lady J to the show's writing staff for the second season.
Since Transparent premiered, transgender visibility in the media has skyrocketed, with several new shows featuring transgender actors and characters either in production or airing earlier this year. There's TLC's I Am Jazz, about transgender teen Jazz Jennings; ABC Family's Becoming Us, a reality show about families with transgender parents; Her Story, a forthcoming Eve Ensler–produced Web series about the dating lives of transgender women; and Transcendent, a Fuse reality series about five transgender women in San Francisco.
At the same time, 16 percent of Americans—or double the percentage recorded in 2008—now say they personally know a transgender person, according to a survey published in September by GLAAD. The advocacy organization's research shows that when people have a personal relationship with a member of the LGBT community, they're more likely to be accepting of LGBT people overall.