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Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon includes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it trans milestone

Maggie Baska March 9, 2021
Patti Harrison Raya and the Last Dragon trans actor Disney

Patti Harrison stars in Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival/Disney)

Disney’s new animated film Raya and the Last Dragon has introduced the studio’s first out trans actor.

American comedian and actor Patti Harrison, who appears in Raya and the Last Dragon, is the first known trans actor to voice a character in a Disney animated movie – possibly opening doors for more LGBT+ inclusion in the future.

Raya and the Last Dragon takes place in a mystical world known as Kumandra which is divided into five lands: Heart, Talon, Spine, Fang and Tail.

Harrison plays the Tail Chief at the beginning of the film. And while she’s only there for one scene and has just a couple of lines, it’s still a critical milestone for trans actors.

As well as appearing in Raya and the Last Dragon, Harrison has previously starred in TV shows Shrill and Search Party and was a writer on Big Mouth, helping shape Josie Totah’s character.

Recently she was also the first trans actor to lead a movie as a cisgender character. She starred as Anna in Together, Together, a pregnancy drama-comedy that premiered at Sundance this year. The film, which also featured The Hangover‘s Ed Helms, is set to be released on 23 April.

Twitter fans might remember Harrison for her recent, surreal stint as Nilla Wafers.

After Oreo declared on Twitter “Trans people exist”, Harrison capitalised on the moment by using her account to impersonate Nilla Wafers, which is owned by Oreo parent company Mondelez.

She tweeted: “We are pansexual. To clarify; We, the brand Nilla Wafers, are pansexual.”

The Raya and the Last Dragon star then claimed the “official account” was being taken over by the singer Sia, tweeting: “There are only two genders”.

She was then suspended from Twitter.

The (real) official account for Nilla Wafers did eventually respond by saying: “Trans people not only exist but are valued and loved by Nilla Wafers.”

Raya and the Dragon stars ‘gay Disney princess’

In an interview with Vanity Fair, the star of Raya and the Last Dragon said the main character is gay – or at least that’s how she portrayed her.

Kelly Marie Tran plays Raya, the main character and hero of Raya and the Last Dragon. She told Vanity Fair that, when she was recording her lines for the role, she decided there were romantic feelings between Raya and her longtime enemy Namaari.

The relationship isn’t official, and Disney has not released any word on if Raya is queer. But Tran said she believed her character had romantic feelings towards Namaari, who is voiced by Gemma Chan.

“I think if you’re a person watching this movie and you see representation in a way that feels really real and authentic to you, then it is real and authentic,” Tran said. “I think it might get me in trouble for saying that, but whatever.”

Raya and the Last Dragon premiered on Disney Plus and can be streamed for £19.99 with a subscription to the service. It will eventually be available to all subscribers for no additional cost on 4 June.

 

More: Disney

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