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.