Transparent star Alexandra Billings recognizes that television has come a long way in telling authentic transgender stories – but, she says, there is still a long way to go.
"I think that we have taken a step in the right direction, though we're at a pause right now with the current government," she told Entertainment Tonight. "The people who have kept their true selves silent because they know within themselves what they believe isn't true, right or kind, have been given permission by all the white cis heteronormative men in power. They are blossoming in this really big way."
Billings recounted a recent incident during which she was misgendered on campus at the University of Southern California, where she teaches drama. One time, when she was walking by a practice field down a path toward the building where she taught, she was accosted by two "very large gentlemen" walking toward her.
"My sense is really good, so I knew something was going to happen,"she said. "So I stopped, and I'm very much owning my own space, and they say to me, 'That's a guy.' One of them said, 'That's a tranny,' and they passed by me laughing. It was horrible."
But, Billings pointed out, "I had to bless them and thank them because you know what? Ten years ago, you wouldn't have known who I was. So, are we the butt of jokes? Yeah. Are we still in the center of violence? Oh, yes. Our suicide rate is 82 percent, we don't survive. However, the glimmer of light is in the fact that the portal is open and everyone is going through it , whether they want to or not."
Transparent's fourth season will further delve into the lives of its lead characters (including Billings, who plays Maura's friend Davina). In it, the writers and cast will make history by portraying the first-ever nude scene of a transperson on television, of Davina in bed with her boyfriend.
"Jill [Soloway, the creator of Transparent] is changing the face of television," Billings said. "First, television has never seen a trans person, certainly with the age I am and with the body that I have, naked on television. There is a care that Jill and the writers took, because the writers need to be given credit, too. It wasn’t about fetishizing or sexualizing, and it wasn't desexualized. It was simple, plain conversation, and you’re looking and then go, 'Oh, what the –' It takes you into the situation."
Transparent's new season premiere Friday, September 22nd on Amazon.