3 Transgender Characters on HBO Max Shows You Need to See!

Although the political climate isn’t the kindest to the transgender community right now, HBO Max has some beautiful representation that uplifts trans stories. Here are three characters from shows on the platform you need to see!

Transgender representation on the small screen has come a long way. Documentaries like Disclosure (2020) dive into the impact of negative representation on the trans community and our world, such as increasing discrimination in medical settings and record numbers of anti-trans bills across the US.

As much as it has the power to hurt, positive and authentic representation can change lives for the better. In honor of Trans Day of Visibility on March 31, here are some transgender characters from shows streaming on HBO Max that tell our stories in a beautiful way!

Sabi (Sort Of)

Sort Of follows Sabi Mehboob, a Pakistani nonbinary person navigating their identity, family, and relationships. They’re a nanny for a family with young teenagers, a bisexual mother, and an out-of-touch father, but they’re also a trained electrician, a bartender, and a best friend to a person who wants to drop everything and explore the world. Sort Of is as rich in themes as it is in subplots!

Sabi uses they/them pronouns, much like their actor and the show’s co-creator, Bilal Baig; their story is loosely based on Baig’s experiences as a Muslim transfeminine person. They spoke about relating to Sabi in an interview with the New York Times: “The thing that I feel most connected to with that character is the level of guardedness… I understand why Sabi doesn’t trust the world and trust people in general. I get that on a deep psychological level.”

Sort Of is a bittersweet sitcom unafraid to tackle complex emotions. It explores the nuances of acceptance in an immigrant family with divorced parents, keeping queer community alive, standing up for yourself, and being vulnerable. It will make you laugh, but it also might cause some deep thoughts about changes you need to make in your own life.

The show has two seasons so far on HBO Max and was renewed for a third in Dec. 2022.

Ana (Genera+ion)

Genera+ion is a teen drama following the Gen Z members of a Southern California high school’s Gender Sexuality Alliance. The story speaks to the chaotic mess of growing up as a queer teen in the modern day. It features plenty of up-and-coming queer actors like Justice Smith (Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves) and Chase Sui Wonders (Bodies Bodies Bodies).

One of few adult characters is Ana, the charismatic and loving aunt to the shy sapphic Greta (played by Haley Sanchez), played by Nava Mau, a Latina transgender actress, activist, and director. Ana is equal parts nurturing and equal parts defiant, determined to protect her family and Greta’s friends while allowing them to make their own decisions. Mau opened up about the character in an interview with Assignment X: “There’s a wisdom that Ana has that leads her to believe that everything is going to be okay, and everyone’s path unfolds in the way that it needs to.”

There are subtle references to Ana’s transness in Genera+ion, such as hints that her sister (Greta’s mother) doesn’t respect her identity, but her being a trans woman is not the central aspect of her character. She is allowed to be human outside of her gender, which is a privilege many stories don’t afford to their trans characters.

Although Genera+ion was canceled after just one season, it’s definitely worth the watch (and not just to laugh at Ana’s jokes)!

Jules (Euphoria)

Likely the most well-known on our list is the confident and fashionable Jules Vaughn, a teenage girl who moved after her parent’s divorce and just started attending East Highland High School. Say what you want about Euphoria and Sam Levinson, but the trans representation in this show is phenomenal (in my opinion).

If you don’t know much about transitioning or the trans experience, you may have completely missed that Jules was a trans girl until her special episode. For those of us who are trans or are knowledgeable about the community, you probably recognized her identity from the first time she was shown on screen. (Cue my gushing spiel because I love this so much:)

We are introduced to Jules through her get-ready-with-me routine which included not only choosing a bomb outfit and the coolest makeup you’ve ever seen, but administering a shot of estrogen in her thigh. Having started her medical transition before high school, maybe even before puberty, this procedure is just as mundane as anything else. This introduction normalizes gender-affirming care in a way I had never seen before. Her identity is a part of her, but it is not the only part of her.

The aforementioned special episode “Fuck Anyone Who’s Not A Sea Blob” is also a beautiful, nuanced look into the trans experience. Co-written by Jules’ actress Hunter Schafer, the episode follows a therapy session post-Season 1 finale where Jules explores her relationship to femininity, sexuality, and her girlfriend (and main character) Rue. Although I’m not a trans woman, I felt this episode deeply as a transgender person in general. I have never seen a piece of media treat transness with such complexity and raw humanity.

Everyone and their mother has probably already told you to watch Euphoria, so I’m preaching to the choir. But seriously, if you can handle serious depictions of drug use, relationship abuse, and explicit sexual content, it’s worth the watch (and emotional turmoil).

Here’s to hoping that nuanced trans characters like these will continue to pop up on our screens and bring a human side to society’s perceptions of the community. A key theme in these examples seems to be: let trans people write and portray their own stories! I can’t wait to see what representation comes next.

You can stream all of these shows on HBO Max!

About the Author

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Christopher Ikonomou

Christopher Ikonomou is a 4th year at the University of California, Los Angeles pursuing Communication and Disability Studies. He has a particular interest in the entertainment industry and representation of marginalized people in film and TV. On campus, he is the Editor-in-Chief at OutWrite Newsmagazine, the oldest queer college publication in the United States, and an activist with the Disabled Student Union. He’s a horror superfan and has been featured by Buzzfeed, UCLA College, Bored Panda, and Teen Vogue for his vocal involvement in the fight for better representation of the disabled community on screen and in the genre, particularly those with Marfan syndrome like himself.