While representation for transgender characters across the content landscape is nil, it’s not a total surprise to see a young trans woman to pop on the West Hollywood restaurant soap opera “Vanderpump Rules.”
What’s impressive is the lengths producers and Bravo TV traveled to accurately represent the trans experience for Billie Lee, a new addition to the series about cheating bartenders and specialty cocktails.
“They were so amazing the whole time I filmed. Just knowing there was a trans woman involved. [They said] ‘Let’s make sure we do the right thing here and shed this in the right light,'” Lee said in an interview with the Outliers Podcast, hosted by artists agent Jorge Perez and life coach Ryan Weiss.
Lee said the network and production company Evolution Media recruited a producer from E!’s groundbreaking “I Am Cait,” about Caitlyn Jenner’s transition, to come advise after she was cast. Lee’s season started airing last November.
“They really thought about it,” Lee concluded, adding that executive producer and restaurant owner Lisa Vanderpump was like a “fairy godmother.”
In November, a GLAAD study reported that LGBTQ television characters had hit an all-time high, but those numbers mostly accounted for white cisgender gay males.
The study found 17 regular and recurring transgender characters on all platforms combined. Of those, nine are trans women, four are trans men, and four are non-binary.