Transgender Jessica Jones actress Aneesh Sheth says the media is too focused on “sensationalism over their bodies.”
An out and proud transgender woman, Sheth plays the role of Gillian—Jessica Jones’ assistant on the Netflix show.
Sheth, who made history as the first transgender character to appear in a Marvel series, spoke exclusively to PinkNews about being a transgender woman on TV.
Watch the interview below:
Transgender representation on TV
Sheth, who first appears in Jessica Jones in Season 1, says her choice of roles have been limited by being transgender.
“Being at the intersectionality of queer and South Asian has made me the target of a lot of discrimination,” she tells PinkNews.
“Professionally, there has not been a lot of opportunities available to someone like me.
“That’s slowly changing now. Trans people of colour are real world, why shouldn’t they colour our film and TV worlds?”
While representation for trans people is slowing changing with actors like Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black, Trace Lysette in Transparent, and Indya Moore in Pose, the focus is often “sensationalism,” she says.
“A lot of the narratives that have been available to trans people to play on television and in film have been a lot of stigmatised misconceptions of what being trans is,” she tells PinkNews.
“A lot of it is sensationalism around their bodies, around this idea that trans people are only trans because of their surgeries.”
Sheth welcomes more transgender visibility in the media but says the focal point is often too much on the person’s gender identity.
“Personally for me, to be able to play a role where my gender identity helps me navigate through the world and isn’t a marker for who I am in the show is, I think, really great,” the Jessica Jones actor explains.
“The types of roles and narratives that are available now for trans people to tell, they’re getting broader.”
Playing the role of Gillian, which doesn’t focus on the fact Sheeth is transgender, was a relief, she adds.
“I think it was a great opportunity to play Gillian the way that she is written and it helped me broaden my own craft,” she says.
“I know that Gillian is not the only one. That there are many other trans characters that exist where their narratives are not about their identity.
“I think we need to see more of that.”