Transgender Actress on General Hospital Breaks New Ground
The transgender world is now being portrayed on the ABC soap opera General Hospital in a groundbreaking story! A real transgender actress is portraying a transgender MD. Other TV dramas are also delving into the transgender arena. Find out how hospital culture is changing!
General Hospital, the iconic soap opera on ABC for the past 55 years has a new story line that the nursing community may find interesting. This program has been on the air for 55 years and is an innovator for presenting real social issues. Besides the #metoomovement and #Ghtoo hashtag there is another story developing with a real transgender actress.
History in The Making
For those of you who are avid GH watchers or just curious about this groundbreaking soap, there is a new character worth watching. The character of Dr. Terry Randolph as portrayed by real transgender actress Cassandra James is fictional RN Liz Weber's (Rebecca Herbst) childhood best friend. Before we see Terry, Liz makes a point of saying, he was the boy who kissed her first when they were teenagers. This is the first real transgender person to portray a transgender character on a soap opera and therefore, this is historic news. In addition, this is forecast not to be a minor blip in the story. Rather, this is supposed to become a huge story line. This role will be Ms. James' first important role on television.
A little background on this actress is in order. Cassandra James, is a 25 years old Canadian-American actress. She has a grounding in theatre. She came to Los Angeles where GH is taped a year ago. Big leap from unknown to soap opera actress in one year! According to an interview in the Vancouver Sun, she started her transition from male to female 2 years ago, in 2016.
The Mystery Deepens
The jury is still out on what will happen to this character and whose lives she will intersect. We do know that Liz Weber is engaged to Franco Baldwin. He has a shady past to say the least and was just treated as a long-time survivor of sexual abuse. We do not know if Terry's specialty is psychiatry, she leaves Liz's house saying she has a consult at GH.
Transgender Characters in the News
The world of the transgender person is entering the mainstream. Bruce Jenner aka Caitlyn, and Chaz Bono (Chastity) now the son of Cher and the late Sonny helped open the doors to this world. Recently, actress Scarlett Johansson made news for deciding to portray a transgender role. She was cast in a film called Rub & Tug and was supposed to have a role as transgender mobster Dante "Tex" Gill. She did receive criticism for tackling the role as a cisgender actress. Cisgender refers to remaining the sex you are born with. In other words, Johansson was born female and remains female. The actress decided against going forward in the role.
Cassandra James on the Controversy
Cassandra James, of GH, had this to say about the casting decision. Not shy around the press, James has made her support of transgender actors known in interviews. "I have faith in people's ability to learn from their mistakes. It's really important for people who are having their eyes opened to what's happening within our community to commit to making this a learning moment for themselves and also using their cis privilege to lift up trans voices. That's imperative moving forward."
Another Groundbreaking Drama
Other TV dramas are branching out into the transgender world. The FX drama Pose, created by prolific producer/director Ryan Murphy (Nip Tuck, The Assassination of Gianni Versace), has the most trans actors in TV history. Five trans female actresses have continuing roles in the show. The popularity of ballroom dancing is now featured in Pose from a historical point of view. This show revolves around the world of ballroom dancing and what transpired in Manhattan in that world in the 1980s. Even Donald Trump's Manhattan is a theme of the show. He is not seen but mentioned as a presence in the city and one of the characters works for his organization. The LGBTQ era which coincided with HIV awareness is also a story line in this groundbreaking show.
Hospital Culture is Changing
Society, which includes the worlds of nursing and medicine is evolving. GH has a hospital backdrop as the setting of this transgender story line. This is one soap opera that will continue to make headlines and one that will continue to use the fast-paced hospital as its' primary setting.
1. General Hospital News: Introducing Cassandra James!General Hospital News: Introducing Cassandra James! | Soap Opera News
Published June 18, 2018. Accessed August 6, 2018.
2. Vancouver transgender actress makes history on General Hospital with castingVancouver transgender actress makes history on General Hospital with casting | Vancouver Sun
Published July 12, 2018. Accessed August 6, 2018.
3. 21 Transgender Stars, Creators Sound Off on Hollywood: "I Want to Portray These Characters, and I'm Ready" Gardner, C., Sun, R., Weinberg, L., Goldstein, J., White, B. July 17, 2018 21 Transgender Stars on Hollywood, Scarlett Johansson, Representation | Hollywood Reporter -The Hollywood Reporter. Accessed August 6, 2018.
4. Ryan Murphy Says 'Pose' Could Have Never Happened Without Trans Talent Evan Real June 1, 2018 Ryan Murphy on 'Pose,' Hiring Transgender Talent | Hollywood Reporter -The Hollywood Reporter. Accessed August 6, 2018.
Poll: Should a transgender plot be played out in a hospital setting?
About Debi Fischer, BSN, RN
Debi Fischer RN, BA, BSN, MSW, LSCW is a nurse in a surgical oncology step down unit. Prior to that she worked in orthopedics and neurology. She has earned a master’s degree in social work and is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
Joined: Jun '14; Posts: 81; Likes: 98Aug 13Joined: Mar '16; Posts: 738; Likes: 4,096Did you really mean to set this up as a poll, and therefore up to a popular vote? Or did you just want to get some opinions? All kinds of life stories happen in hospitals; this is just another one of them. I met a transgendered thoracic surgeon years ago. Apparently she transitioned while on staff at a major medical center.
Seems like it was no big deal; at least when I met her...Aug 13Joined: Jan '08; Posts: 1,035; Likes: 4,063Better poll: who knew General Hospital was still on the air???Aug 13Joined: Jun '11; Posts: 7,533; Likes: 28,177Quote from LibraSunCNMGeneral Hospital- the program that had a woman fall in love with her rapist. Also- McGyver as a cardiac surgeon who was so dense he did not recognize his own child with a CV surgical scar! The list goes on.Better poll: who knew General Hospital was still on the air???Aug 13Joined: May '03; Posts: 1,359; Likes: 4,786This is great...thanks for telling us about it (I'm not a big watcher of soaps to be honest). Visibility is tremendously important, especially in areas that portray transgender people as real people with lives and a career. It can only help acceptance of transgender people who actually work in health care by showing the world that they can be successful and accepted in these professional roles.Aug 13Joined: Jan '08; Posts: 1,035; Likes: 4,063Quote from meanmaryjeanI listened to a podcast a couple of years ago about Richard Simmons and his recent disappearance from society, and learned that he played himself on GH for like 5 years in the '80s! So weird. Perhaps they're trying to make up for the poor decision of having a character fall in love with her rapist (don't know how long ago that storyline was) by promoting transgender awareness? I can't believe that anyone still watches soap operas under the age of 80, which is probably not the demographic they need to target about trans issues, practically speaking.General Hospital- the program that had a woman fall in love with her rapist. Also- McGyver as a cardiac surgeon who was so dense he did not recognize his own child with a CV surgical scar! The list goes on.Aug 14Joined: Dec '17; Posts: 693; Likes: 1,425Bringing back some very fond memories. My mother and I used to watch Guiding Light together.
Soaps have long been known for dramatizing various social issues, normalizing them in the process, encouraging people to come forward for help if needed. Mental illness, common and rare diseases of every stripe, addictions, AIDS, domestic violence, etc, etc.
The writers are probably not trying to improve society, they are only looking for another storyline that hasn't already been done to death.
I also did not realize any soaps were still on the air. The Internet probably killed soaps. Once better quality programming became widely available, they started dying off some 10-15 years ago.Aug 14Joined: Dec '15; Posts: 1,097; Likes: 1,966"New ground broken"? On a soap opera? Is there a new definition of "ground breaking" I'm not aware of?
Kind of like "new ground breaking cheese burger at McDonalds"Aug 14Joined: Nov '15; Posts: 49; Likes: 109Instead of thanking a soap opera for the visibility from playing with the idea of transgender doctors as entertainment, I will remember and share the legacy of many historic transgender doctors who did it before being 'transgender' was even on peoples radar- these are the people who give hope to transgender people to reach for the stars, not some trashy soap opera.
Surgeon James Barry 1795- 1865: Performed the first C section in Africa where both mom and baby survived the operation, stationed in South Africa as a british military medical officer well-known for advocating sanitary improvements for the poor
Alan L Heart 1890-1962: pioneered xray detection of TB & implemented screening programs
Laurence Michael Dillon 1951-1962: british naval physician
Ben Barres 1954-2017: Chair of Neurobiology at Stanford
And seriously, "Should a transgender plot be played out in a hospital setting?"
Personally I'm counting on a long career in healthcare pushing the immoral and offensive "transgender plot" onto innocent patients so I guess the answer is yes. As a Millenial I just have the radical idea that a healthcare workers gender does not matter as much as their competency, bedside manner, and care for patients.Aug 14Joined: Dec '16; Posts: 789; Likes: 3,088This can't be serious. You are talking about a soap opera.Aug 14Joined: Dec '17; Posts: 693; Likes: 1,425Soap operas, 50 years ago, were known to be the first TV programs to confront many things, like divorce, alcoholism, infertility, women working outside the home, etc.
I am surprised it has taken this long to have a transgender person!
I would love to see a realistic NP on a soap!
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