The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Jill Soloway and Jeffrey Tambor of ‘Transparent’ highlight trans issues in Emmy acceptance speeches

Actor Jeffrey Tambor accepts Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for “Transparent.” (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Trans issues have never been more visible in American culture than they are right now, both in television and film.

Eddie Redmayne is already an early award season favorite for his portrayal of Lili Elbe in “The Danish Girl.” On television, there are reality shows following the stories of Caitlyn Jenner, Jazz Jennings, and the ABC Family series “Becoming Us.”

In a lot of ways, it seems as though pop culture is riding a wave of transgender visibility not unlike the early 2000s when “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy” and “Queer as Folk” really took the the reins from “Will and Grace” and, to some extent, normalized portrayals of gay people on television.

So it wasn’t much of a surprise Sunday when “Transparent” showrunner Jill Soloway won the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, and once again used her platform to highlight the difficulties still facing many trans people.

Referencing the May 2014 Time magazine cover that featured “Orange Is the New Black” actress Laverne Cox, Soloway hit the audience with a sobering punch. “We don’t have a trans tipping point yet,” she said. “We have a trans equality problem.” Soloway then noted that in more than 30 states, housing discrimination against trans people is still legal, using her Moppa, (Moppa is the nickname she used to refer to her own trans parent) as an example.

“Something interesting about my Moppa,” Soloway said. “She could, tomorrow, go and try to find an apartment and in 32 states it would be legal for the landlord to say, ‘We don’t rent to trans people.’ We don’t have a trans tipping point yet; we have a trans civil rights problem. So go to pass the trans equality bill.”

In his acceptance speech for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy, his first Emmy win, “Transparent” actor Tambor thanked the transgender community, sensitive to early concerns about a cisgender actor playing a trans woman character.

“I’d like to dedicate my performance and this award to the transgender community,” Tambor said. “Thank you for your patience, thank you for your courage, thank you for your stories, thank you for your inspiration, thank you for letting us be part of the change. God bless you.”


Jon Hamm finally snapped his losing streak, taking home his first and last Emmy award for "Mad Men." (Video: Nicki DeMarco/The Washington Post)