The past few weeks have been difficult, to say the least. After Netflix showed its full ass by giving Dave Chappelle a platform to spew transphobic rhetoric, trans folks were left wondering where to turn to watch queer and trans stories that won’t keep putting money in the pockets of transphobes.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of fantastic trans content out there– you just have to look for it. And hey, would you look at that! We looked for you. So without further ado, here are some queer and trans-centered shows that you can stream guilt-free. That is, until Hulu decides to pull some nonsense.
Before Jen Richards was a household name/superhero singlehandedly committed to battling Hollywood’s transphobic legacy, she was busy doing what everyone does in L.A.: writing, producing, and starring in her own web series, “Her Story.” Through the course of six short episodes, we follow Richards as Violet, a trans bartender working in L.A., and Angelica Ross as Paige as they navigate the often painful dating scene. It’s a beautifully-made show that manages to discuss key issues in the community without coming off as heavy-handed or after school special-adjacent. Plus, you get a chance to see some legendary actors in their pre-fame days.
Stream all six episodes of “Her Story” on YouTube.
Her name is Julie Klausner, and she is a goddess, full stop. If you haven’t had the absolute pleasure of watching Klausner’s 2015 masterpiece “Difficult People,” seriously what the hell are you doing? Stop everything and watch John Mulaney play an old-timey Nazi memorabilia collector this INSTANT! This show is not only packed with general hilarity, it’s one of the only shows I can think of that allows queer and trans people to be funny assholes. Why is this important? Well, if you hadn’t noticed, trans folks onscreen tend to be treated as tragedies. We’re trotted out for every horrible trauma-porn arc and, with the exception of Patti Harrison, no one’s that eager to see what we can do comically or to portray us in a more complex light. So when it happens, it’s big. Klausner assembled a pitch-perfect cast of New York theater queers to populate this fantastic series, including nonbinary icon Cole Escola and trans comedian Shakina Nayfack. For a true treat, watch the episode where Shakina’s friends (including the iconic Mx. Justin Vivian Bond) come for a vision quest that goes haywire. And for an even bigger treat, tune into Julie’s hilarious podcast Double Threat, which she co-hosts with Tom Scharpling. Also, can we get this woman another show, TOUT SUITE?? Come on, Hollywood!
“Difficult People” Seasons 1-3 can be streamed on Hulu.
If you’re one of the legions of drag fans who find “Drag Race” just a bit too cis for your taste, RuPaul’s got nothing on this shit. On the one hand, yes, Jameela Jameel is in the mix. But on the other hand, Megan THEE Stallion. Pretty much everybody is trans/GNC, the lewks are excellent, and everything is simply dialed up to eleven, as drag should be! This is what we talk about when we talk about ballroom.
The dolls can stream “Legendary” seasons 1&2 on HBO Max.
Saved By the Bell: The Reboot!
So remember when I said that nobody lets trans actors be anything but tragic figures to be pitied and murdered as part of an NCIS b-plot? Well, Josie Totah is hell-bent on reversing this by being…you know, awesome. Not only does she crush it on “Big Mouth” (which is sadly streaming only on Netflix), she absolutely makes the “Saved By the Bell” reboot work. As Lexi, the self-obsessed, bitchy mean girl of your dreams, Totah is not to be fucked with. And guess what? Being trans isn’t even a big deal for Lexi. She has her own school talk show, for chrissakes! Bayside High did NOT deserve this glow-up.
Stream “Saved By the Bell” on Peacock.
Trans in Trumpland
Earlier this year, trans filmmaker Tony Zosherafatain released his four-part series “Trans in Trumpland” on AppleTV. The series told the stories of four trans folks suffering under the transphobic dictates of the Trump administration: there’s trans teen Ash struggling to have his name and gender identity respected at his North Carolina school. Rebecca, a Latina trans woman, faces deportation and must fight to stay in the U.S. Meanwhile, Evonne, a Black trans house mother, struggles to keep her trans sisters safe in light of Mississippi’s broken justice system. It’s a difficult but powerful watch, and although the Trump regime has thankfully come to an end, so much damage remains for us to clean up in its wake.
Stream “Trans in Trumpland” on Apple TV.
OWN’s Ava DuVernay-created “Queen Sugar” is so powerful that Brian Michael Smith, the actor who portrays transman Toine in the series, was inspired to disclose his trans status after living and working stealth for years. The show follows three siblings struggling with the complex inheritance of a sugarcane farm left to them by their recently-deceased father. Toine Williams plays a childhood friend of Ralph Angel, one of the siblings struggling to deal with his child’s non-traditional relationship to gender ad family. And to make things even cooler, the show’s most recent season placed queer women in the director’s chair for every episode.
Stream “Queen Sugar” on OWN or Hulu (with premium subscription.)
Before there was the hilarious (and very queer) “Good Trouble,” the Fosters were exploring themes of found family in their eponymous Freeform show. Featuring a visible lesbian couple raising a loving, chosen family of misfits, the show expanded the boundaries of primetime “family” entertainment by going deep in its discussions of queerness, visibility, and identity. This show also brought us Elliot Fletcher as Aaron, a trans guy who doesn’t have to disclose his transness in a big dramatic way to be accepted by Callie and her family.
Stream “The Fosters” on Hulu.
We love all the girls from “Pose,” but if you want to see them in action without putting money into the pocket of Netflix execs, may we recommend Damon Cardasis’ 2017 musical Saturday Church? In addition to featuring our faves Mj Rodriguez and Indya Moore, this is a visually stunning film shows how the ballroom scene can and has quite literally saved lives.
Stream Saturday Church on Tubi.
The San Francisco Transgender Film Festival
If you love to see trans folks in trans films, guess what? There’s a whole festival for that! The San Francisco Transgender Film Festival is, now in its 24th year, the longest-running and first-of-its-kind festival for trans filmmakers, and this year’s entries are looking pretty damn solid. From a 5-minute Black queer thriller to a short film with an all-trans cast about trying to get your HRT refill during a pandemic. Check it out!
The San Francisco Transgender Film Festival runs from November 11 to 14.
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