Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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WATCH: Bold and Beautiful... and Transgender

WATCH: Bold and Beautiful... and Transgender

CBS’s long-running afternoon drama, The Bold and the Beautiful, has added a new arc for one of its characters: a secret past. That may not sound surprising, given it’s a soap opera, but in this case, a regular character is revealed to be transgender.

People magazine reported the plot twist was presented on Wednesday's episode, when it was revealed that Maya Avant, played by Karla Mosley, is transgender. She was assigned male at birth with the name Myron.

Maya and her sister, Nicole, played by Reign Edwards, were arguing when Nicole said, "You're not my sister, Maya. You're not Maya at all. You're Myron, my brother."

What’s notable about this development is that CBS is actively promoting the plotline with a publicity push. As USA Today reported, the network boasted that The Bold and the Beautiful is the only current show on broadcast or cable TV to include a transgender character as part of the regular cast.

The big reveal scene could cause an LGBT viewer to cringe, since one character uses the word "lifestyle" and Mosley is yet another cisgender (nontrans) actress playing a trans role. But Mosley, 33, has been acting on the soap for more than two years and only found out late last year about her character's hidden history.

"My first reaction was surprise, because 10 or 20 years ago, this is not a story we would be telling, and not in a way that's truthful and not sensational," Mosley told USA Today.

"My second reaction was, 'Thank you.' It's a gift it's a privilege," she said. "It's a real opportunity to educate our viewers here and all over the world."

Bradley Bell, executive producer and head writer, told the paper the soap is telling a story about love and tolerance.

"It is about people respecting other people's differences and their uniqueness," he said in a statement. "In the end, we all want to be loved, and in order to love someone else you first have to love yourself. If you are transgender, gay, straight, it doesn't matter. It's about finding love in life. This is a love story."

USA Today speculated that this could have the same effect on public attitudes towards transgender people that Will & Grace had for gay people a decade ago.

GLAAD certainly hopes so. The media watchdog organization that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people estimates as many as 90 percent of Americans know someone who is gay, but only 8 percent know someone who's transgender.

"Scripted gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters have become more common on television,” GLAAD spokesman Nick Adams told USA Today, “but transgender characters continue to lag behind.”

Although she is not trans herself, Mosley said she understands the challenges. "It's hard, when you've been pushed down for so long and made to feel shame and feel you have to hide out," she told the paper. "It's a challenge to be vulnerable and say, 'Yes, this is who I am. Hollywood has the opportunity to be the trailblazers in the world.”

Of course, Maya is not the first trans character on a soap. GLAAD spokesman Adams said the first was on ABC's The City in 1995, which included transgender fashion model Azure, played by cisgender actress Carlotta Chang. In 2005, ABC's All My Children introduced glam-rocker Zarf, played by cisgender actor Jeffrey Carlson. His character later came out as a trans woman, took the name Zoe, and fell in love with Bianca Montgomery.

And it was 38 years ago that Billy Crystal first played Jodie Dallas, a character transitioning from male to female, but for laughs, in ABC’s primetime comedy, Soap.

Watch the scene from Wednesday's episode of The Bold and the Beautiful below: 

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