8 up-and-coming trans stars poised to dominate our screens this year

While Laverne Cox broke new ground appearing in 2013’s prison drama Orange is the New Black as Sophia Burset, Jamie Clayton spearheaded the Hellraiser reboot and dominated the sci-fi genre as Nomi in Netflix’s Sense8, and the entire cast of Pose was laden with Black trans excellence, Generation Next is hot on their heels.

Whether it’s by age or burgeoning prominence, these are the eight trans actresses you should be keeping an eye on for International Women’s Day, and where they’ll appear next.

Yasmin Finney – Heartstopper season 2/Doctor Who

19-year-old Yasmin Finney has already appeared as Elle in tender coming-of-age romance Heartstopper, and she’s not stopping there.

While she’s already wrapped on the Alice Oseman-created second series of the show, she’s also been announced as the newest companion for Ncuti Gatwa’s upcoming tenure as the eponymous Doctor Who, which marks the return of Russell T. Davies as showrunner. Her character, Rose, is confirmed to be trans.

With an Emmy nominee under her belt for her role as Elle, the rising star is sure to sweep up more noms when season two hits our screens. It’s Yasmin Finney’s world and we’re all just living in it.

First proper glimpse of Yasmin Finney as Rose in Doctor Who. (Alistair Heap_BBC Studios)
Yasmin Finney as Rose in Doctor Who. (Alistair Heap/BBC Studios)

Hunter Schafer – The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Hunter Schafer became a household name appearing alongside Zendaya and Jacob Elordi in the first two seasons of HBO’s hit series Euphoria.

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As well as her character Jules, with whom Zendaya’s Rue has a turbulent relationship, Schafer is also listed as an executive producer of the series – trans excellence if we ever did see it.

In 2023, Schafer is poised to step into movie stardom with an appearance in the Hunger Games franchise prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, among other projects such as And, which co-stars Emma Stone and Willem Dafoe. Like we said, movie stardom.

Hunter Schafer, a star of the HBO show Euphoria, looks at the camera while wearing a red dress
Hunter Schafer will play Tigris in the Hunger Games prequel (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO)

Josie Totah – The Buccaneers

Despite being only 21, Josie Totah already has a long and illustrious filmography. Appearing on Glee pre-transition back in 2015, she came out via an article in Time magazine, saying: “My Name Is Josie Totah – and I’m ready to be free.”

Since then, Totah’s joyous embrace of her gender identity has led her to star in Marvel’s Spiderman: Homecoming, Netflix’s Big Mouth and spin-off Human Resources, as well as the Saved by the Bell reboot, to name but a few.

She’s also due to star in the upcoming TV show The Buccaneers, which will stream on Apple TV. The series follows a group of American women arriving in 1870s London.

Three high schoolers in a cafeteria in Saved by the Bell
Josie Totah in Saved by the Bell. (Peacock)

Patti Harrison – Theater Camp

Another trans trailblazer with a Marvel credit to her name is comedian Patti Harrison, who recently appeared in 2022’s She-Hulk.

While Harrison’s filmography is extensive, including a role in the (tragically) cancelled animated queer spy caper Q-Force, a Marvel role is a surefire way to catapult anyone into fully-fledged screen star. As well as She-Hulk, Harrison’s voice acting for American Dad! has ensured she’s now firmly part of the cultural zeitgeist. She also starred in Raya and the Last Dragon, one of the first known trans actresses to voice a character for Disney.

Her upcoming roles include a star turn in Theater Camp opposite Ben Platt, a comedy that premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and has since been acquired by Searchlight Pictures.

Patti Harrison Raya and the Last Dragon trans actor Disney
Patti Harrison will star in Theater Camp (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Zión Moreno – Gossip Girl

Appearing as main character Luna La, Zión Moreno rose to prominence with the Gossip Girl revival series.

While the series ended in January, Moreno and the rest of the cast made huge strides for representation in the show, with the showrunners saying: “We decided as writers that this isn’t a show that’s about how she became her authentic self. That’s just not our story. Luna is Luna to these people, and that’s that.”

Details on Moreno’s upcoming projects are thin on the ground, although it’s always possible that Gossip Girl could be saved from cancellation, bringing Luna back for round three.

Zion Moreno Luna trans Gossip Girl
Zion Moreno (L), a trans actress playing a trans character in the Gossip Girl reboot. (HBO Max)

Nicole Maines – Yellowjackets

Ahead of her acting career, Nicole Maines gained prominence as the then-anonymous plaintiff in a judicial court case arguing that her school district could not deny her access to the female toilets.

She won the case and continued to be a superhero as an actress, playing Nia Nal in Supergirl – not only becoming the first person to portray a transgender superhero on TV, but also writing the character’s comic book debut for DC’s run of Pride comics.

Maines will reprise the role of Nia Nal/Dreamer as a guest in The Flash, before appearing as Lisa in the second season of survival drama Yellowjackets when the series airs later this month.

Supergirl star Nicole Maines as transgender superhero Dreamer (The CW)
Nicole Maines as transgender superhero Dreamer. (The CW)

Hari Nef – Barbie/The Idol

Appearing as literature student Blythe in the first season of psychological thriller You, Hari Nef was the first trans woman signed to modelling agency IMG Models.

Nef’s upcoming roles include an unspecified part in Greta Gerwig’s hotly anticipated Barbie, and a main role in the controversial series The Idol.

Before those, though, Nef is continuing on her path to pop culture domination by starring in Extrapolations, an anthology series on Apple TV that depicts the effects of climate change on the planet via various interconnected viewpoints. Think Love, Actually, but less romantic and more terrifying. The series also stars Meryl Streep, Kit Harrington, Edward Norton, Murray Bartlett and Sienna Miller.

Hari Nef will star in Barbie as well as Extrapolations in 2023 (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Thea Raveneau – A Savage Christmas

After racking up several theatre credits to her name, Australian actress Thea Raveneau will be making her film debut in A Savage Christmas.

Described as a dark comedy, the film sees Raveneau returning home for Christmas with her new boyfriend. Expecting her transition to be the focus, it is instead overshadowed by family secrets and lies which threaten not only their lives but another Christmas lunch. Typical!

The film is particularly important as it’s been said to reflect “the nation’s diversity”, according to Variety. Production has started, but no release date has been set.

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