'Modern Family' Casts First-Ever Trans Child Actor -- & It's About Damn Time

To be totally honest, it can get really exhausting constantly calling out Hollywood for its terrible treatment of trans actors (i.e., never casting them in roles). But we say something anyway because we need the people in charge to hear us calling for change. Usually, it feels like we're shouting into a black hole. But sometimes, they listen, and sometimes they surprise us in a good way. Like when an an 8-year-old trans actor gets cast in a major network sitcom like Modern Family, and everything feels better for a minute.


Jackson Millarker is Hollywood's first openly trans child actor, and only the third trans actor to score a spot on a major network show (Orange Is the New Black's Laverne Cox and Nashville's Jen Richards came before him) and, honestly, it's about time. 

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According to Ryan Case, who directed the September 28 episode that Jackson stars in, Jackson's character, Tom, is Lily's friend who kind of inadvertently teaches Lily's parents about acceptance, even though they thought they didn't need the lesson. That situation -- getting a lesson you didn't know you needed -- is something we definitely understand, but even so, watching these characters go through it will probably teach us a lesson.

We don't know yet if Jackson is signed on for more than this week's episode, but even just this one is a promising start -- casting trans actors is important, but casting a diverse list of actors (that range in race and sex and age and more) is even more so. 

It's also proof that a diverse cast of trans actors is out there, even if directors and producers are making a stink about not being able to find the actors they want. If Modern Family can find an 8-year-old to act on its show, you can find a middle-aged trans man to act in your film (yes, we're talking to you, Mark Ruffalo). You just need to do the work. And honestly, that work is the very least of what we owe the trans community after years of prejudice and abuse.

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So, anyway. We can't wait to see Jackson Millarker on the show this week, and we especially can't wait to see what he does in the future. His bravery is astounding (it's hard enough being a trans actor, and hard enough being a child actor, let alone both) and we hope other shows and films follow Modern Family's lead and use actual trans people to play trans people on screen. 

Wouldn't that be something?


Image via ABC

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