Around a week ago, I stood onstage at the Golden Globes and accepted an award on behalf of Transparent. Since those 30 allotted seconds I was given to speak onstage, I’ve spent most of my waking hours processing the highs with family and community to hash out what it all means. That’s my first instinct as a Jew — gotta process.
Although we’re not inventing the trans narrative, and the transgender community didn’t come into being with the creation of our show, I like to believe we’re part of a revolution. Transparent is a world where trans characters are part of the mainstream, rather than as victims in a procedural or punch lines in a sitcom. Ours was one of the first shows on a new, untested network, and our efforts could have gone a number of different ways.
When we told our story, however, audiences surprised us — they loved that Pfefferman family in all their messy double-churned humanness. They watched, laughed, listened, kvelled. And empathized. And now, with two Golden Globes to our name, it seems that more of the world might soon be doing the same.
With Transparent, I was afforded a huge opportunity to portray queerness. It’s crazy-exciting to make art, using comedy and emotion to play with a world of sexualities and gender configurations. Above all else, Transparent privileges the Other. Every member of the family would be a one-episode guest star on another TV show. But in this world, they’re bathed in light.
If transness can be seen as a kind of becoming, all of these characters’ journeys are explored through that prism. They leap with beauty and clumsiness from the person they thought society wanted them to be into the person they authentically are.
We contain multitudes — multitudes that cannot be dictated by our genitals, our chromosomes, or — thank Goddess — our families. Transparent shows people all over the world what multitudes they too might contain. It’s time to stop seeing ourselves and each other as the culmination of a series of gendered assumptions and predeterminations — and instead to see and be our authentic human selves.
What’s next? I wish I could say that our win triggered a seismic shift in the state of society — that the heavens opened up to return Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera to us, or that Leelah Alcorn’s parents suddenly dedicated their lives to repentance.
Instead, we are at the early stages of this movement. My hope is that in the near future, when each of us has our very own personal Amazon delivery drone, we’ll look back and wonder how we ever thought gender could be reduced to two binary, cis identities. All that has to happen for us to get there is for people to continue to accept Maura and people like her into their lives — to continue to push past black and white and learn to embrace all the colors in between.
JILL SOLOWAY is the creator of the Amazon series Transparent, which won Best Actor in a TV Comedy and Best TV Comedy at the Golden Globes.