Actor Ellie Desautels wants trans characters to be the new normal in movies and television.
“It’s not just important to have trans actors playing trans roles because of the authenticity we bring to the role,” they stated. “But also, what’s so important, if not more, is that audiences are seeing trans people on TV. They’re seeing the trans actors as regular people.”
Desautels is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns. They played trans-masculine teenager Michael on NBC’s “Rise.” They’re also only the second non-binary actor to appear on a primetime TV show.
“We just have to start normalizing trans characters and making it an everyday thing. ‘Cause I live an everyday life,” they explained. “I feed my cats, I watch ‘the Bachelor,’ like I’m a normal person, you know? So, like, let’s just start showing trans people being normal.”
Desautels says it took years to understand their own identity and says one of the biggest challenges of being non-binary is the lack of familiarity people have with the identity. However, they’re proud to be raising the voice of non-binary people through their own visibility.
“I knew that I was going to make an impact, but did not know that I would be changing the minds of people that were so opposed before,” they said. “Those kids in turn are becoming less afraid to tell their parents that they’re gay and that they’re trans, because they see me.”