These trans artists reveal the first time they truly felt represented in TV and film.

A new TV series is helping spread the word about why representation in entertainment matters.

Identifying with characters onscreen is a privilege many people take for granted. That kind of representation is vital — but it's not something everyone is lucky enough to experience.

"First Time I Saw Me," a new series of videos from Netflix and GLAAD, features eight transgender artists sharing the first time they felt represented in TV and film.


Seeing people we relate to onscreen makes us feel like full members of society, while seeing people different from us helps us overcome stereotypes and fear of the unknown.

"When it comes to transgender characters, we need more of them," said Nick Adams, director of transgender media at GLAAD. "But then we need to improve the quality of them."

For people in underrepresented communities, greater inclusion also means stories and characters that move beyond surface descriptions and stereotypical tropes. "I would love to get to the point where there's a transgender character on a show and literally nothing about their storyline has anything to do with them being trans," said actor Elliot Fletcher.

The artists featured in "First Time I Saw Me" said that getting there means breaking down the barriers to entry and including more trans people in auditions, the writing process, and behind-the-camera work like directing and producing. Telling more authentic stories means involving those people directly in the creative process.

"If you want to create an authentic trans experience on film, involve trans people," actor Jamie Clayton said.

Greater inclusion makes for better stories that more people can enjoy and identify with.

We've seen great strides made in recent years, including in the portrayal of transgender characters.

"Having this kind of representation of different types of people allows us to complicate human experience for other people," said writer and trans advocate Tiq Milan. "That's the starting point, when people start to see trans people as complex individuals."

There's still a lot of work to be done, but the good news is that audiences have been responding well to greater representation.

Diversifying our media is not only the right thing to do — it also results in more interesting and diverse storytelling.  

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Davina Agudelo was born in Miami, Florida, but she grew up in Medellín, Colombia.

"I am so grateful for my upbringing in Colombia, surrounded by mountains and mango trees, and for my Colombian family," Agudelo says. "Colombia is the place where I learned what's truly essential in life." It's also where she found her passion for the arts.

While she was growing up, Colombia was going through a violent drug war, and Agudelo turned to literature, theater, singing, and creative writing as a refuge. "Journaling became a sacred practice, where I could leave on the page my dreams & longings as well as my joy and sadness," she says. "During those years, poetry came to me naturally. My grandfather was a poet and though I never met him, maybe there is a little bit of his love for poetry within me."

In 1998, when she left her home and everyone she loved and moved to California, the arts continued to be her solace and comfort. She got her bachelor's degree in theater arts before getting certified in journalism at UCLA. It was there she realized the need to create a media platform that highlighted the positive contributions of LatinX in the US.

"I know the power that storytelling and writing our own stories have and how creative writing can aid us in our own transformation."

In 2012, she started Alegría Magazine and it was a great success. Later, she refurbished a van into a mobile bookstore to celebrate Latin American and LatinX indie authors and poets, while also encouraging children's reading and writing in low-income communities across Southern California.

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Veteran Chicago radio personality "Ramblin' Ray" Stevens was driving in his car two weeks ago when he passed Braxton Mayes, 20, several times.

"I was on my way home from work Friday and saw a young man walking down Kirk Road," Stevens later recalled. "I dropped my friend off at the studio I work out of and headed home. This young man was still walking. So I drove around the block and asked him if he needed a ride."

"In our town, we help people out," Stevens said.

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