By Tallon Kennedy
October 1, 2016
This Wednesday, the TV show Modern Family will feature the first transgender child actor in television history. Openly transgender 8-year-old, Jackson Millarker, will appear on the next episode of the show, according to a report by Variety. “Modern Family” has already shown an openness to queer identities by having a gay couple on the show, but this marks the first time that the show will have a transgendered individual on it.
Transgendered people have been getting a lot more media recognition in the past couple of years, with shows like Orange is the New Black and Transparent, but they’ve always been in adult roles. Never has a transgendered child appeared on a TV show, until now, and this is important. By exposing people who might not understand how gender works to a transgendered child, there could be some progress made in the understanding of gender and the body.
Typically the narrative given to people about transgendered lives is that of teenagers and adults who go through medical processes to get their body to match their gender. However, this isn’t always how gender dysphoria has to operate. Sometimes it’s a child whose sex might be categorized as female, but whose gender might be more masculine or male, and thus the child might adopt masculine appearances and behaviors.
Hopefully, Millarker will get people to think about how gender is something that children become aware of at a very young age, and might inspire parents to talk to their children about their own genders. If we’re looking for a future that is more open about queered genders and sexuality, then perhaps starting a conversation about children’s internal experience of gender is a good place to start.