Actor Brian Michael has publicly come out as transgender.
Michael, 32, appeared on Wednesday’s episode of “Queen Sugar” as transgender police officer Toine Wilkins. Michael has previously only played cis-gender roles making his appearance on “Queen Sugar” the first transgender character he has portrayed.
The actor told GLAAD that because he is not “visibly trans,” it made securing cis-gender roles much easier. However, he still wanted to include transgender characters in his work.
“Because I began my career post-transition and am not ’visibly trans,’ I had the privilege of choosing to disclose or not and I was able to go in for any role that fit my type,” Michael says. “I knew that at some point I would want to explore my trans experience in my work, but I wanted to make sure my self-understanding and skills were sharp enough to do justice to this deeply personal subject.”
Michael continued that often times transgender characters’ storylines are focused solely on their transition stories.
“There aren’t many acting roles about trans people, let alone trans men in TV and films. And I’ve found that often when things are written by people outside of the trans experience, they tend to focus on these common tropes: the painful disclosure, or the physical aspects of transition itself. The characters tend to be pre-transition or early in transition, and the storylines they are involved in are mainly focused on their transition and them seeking other people’s acceptance or their non-trans love interest or family members’ reaction,” Michael says.
In the episode, “Caroling Dusk,” Toine has a confrontation with main character Ralph Angel. Michael appreciated that the scene wasn’t about Toine being a transman.
“I loved that this scene was about gratitude and friendship, and that Toine being trans was just a part of their story, and not the focus. Instead, support and understanding was the focus of the scene,” Michael says.
Michael has also appeared on “Gossip Girl,” Blue Blood” and “Person of Interest.”