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Offer more roles to trans actors, culture minister tells broadcasters

Joe Williams November 3, 2015

Culture minister Ed Vaizey has urged TV bosses to award more roles to transgender actors.

The minister said that the success and popularity of trans characters in online shows such as ‘Orange is the New Black’ and ‘Transparent’ proved that broadcasters should do more to improve their diversity agenda.

His comments come after EastEnders was praised for making TV history by casting a transgender actor in a transgender role for the first time.

Appearing before the current Women and Equalities Committee, Mr Vaizey said that it was vital to show more trans character’s in their everyday lives – rather than always making a “big deal” about them coming out.

The MP said trans doctors, lawyers, nurses, police and MPs should be handed big roles on the small screen to reflect “society as it looks like today”.

“In terms of working with broadcasters, encouraging them to portray on screen our society as it looks like today, I think there’s an ongoing issue that people can be put into the category that they’re identified as and not seen doing mainstream occupations,” he said.

“There is something in that critique of broadcasters and I hope that more and more we will see people from the transgender community – as indeed from other communities that are under-represented on our screens – cast in mainstream roles and their background is irrelevant in that respect.”

He went on to praise shows such as OITNB and Transparent – and said broadcasters should be quick to follow their lead, after it was recently revealed that streaming services have more LGBT characters than all traditional TV channels put together.

“Not seeing this as somehow exotic but completely mainstream is really important,” he said.

“You have only got to see the success of people like Laverne Cox on Netflix or the success of Transparent on Amazon Prime to see that the sky is not going to fall on your head if you keep pushing ahead with this agenda and they have really got to move faster.

“We continue to engage with them and we continue to call them out on it.”

Mr Vaizey’s statements echoed those he made last month at this year’s PinkNews Awards – where he presented the Public Sector Equality Award to the Ministry of Defence.

Watch the full clip below.

More: BBC, ed vaizey, laverne cox, LGBT, ointb, Trans, Transparent

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