21 trans and non-binary actors you need to know about

Wreck actor Miya Ocego, The L Word: Generation Q star Leo Sheng, and Willow actress Talisa García.

Trans and non-binary actors are becoming increasingly visible on our TV and cinema screens.

Some of the biggest culture moments of 2023, from The Last of Us to Barbie, Heartstopper to The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, featured talented trans and non-binary stars, paving the way for a new era of LGBTQ+ representation.

There are those stars we all know and love so much – Elliot Page, Yasmin Finney, Bella Ramsey, Hunter Schafer, and of course, Pose icons Michaela Jaé Rodriguez and Angelica Ross.

Yet there is a host of upcoming or lesser-known trans and non-binary stars who deserve to be seen and celebrated, too.

Here are 21 trans and non-binary actors you might not know of yet, and why you should get know them.

Miya Ocego

Miya Ocego as trans Cher impersonator Rosie in Wreck season two.
Miya Ocego as trans Cher impersonator Rosie in Wreck season two. (BBC)

If you’re not a fan of big queer horror shows, you might not have heard of Miya Ocego. The British trans actress, 24, is best known for playing the role of cruise ship entertainer, Cher impersonator and general badass Rosie Preston in Ryan J Brown’s BBC comedy slasher series, Wreck.

The second season of Wreck is currently airing on BBC Three and BBC iPlayer, and features Rosie revealing her trans identity – but in a refreshing step forward for representation, nothing more is said on the matter.

Other than Wreck, Ocego is known for starring as trans model and pioneer Ashley April in Channel 4’s 2021 documentary, The Extraordinary Life of April Ashley, and taking on the role of Alexa Dennis in Billie Piper’s BAFTA-winning comedy series, I Hate Suzie. Expect to see her on your screens a whole lot more in the years ahead.

Ash Palmisciano

Emmerdale actor Palmisciano.
Emmerdale actor Palmisciano. (Getty/Gareth Cattermole).

British actor Ash Palmisciano is best known for his award-winning role as barista to the residents of Emmerdale, Matty Barton.

If you’re not a fan of British soaps, you may not know much about Palmisciano, but when he was introduced to Emmerdale in 2018, he became the show’s first ever trans actor, and Matty became its first trans character.

Away from the Dales, Palmisciano has been in several short films, and appeared in BBC sitcom Boy Meets Girl back in 2016. Theatre fans may also recognise him from playing a knight in the 2016 adaptation of King Lear at the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre in Shakespeare’s home town, Stratford-upon-Avon.

Felix Mufti

Felix Mufti (left) as Roman and Anthony Lexa (right) as Abbi in Sex Education season four.
Felix Mufti (left) as Roman and Anthony Lexa (right) as Abbi in Sex Education season four. (Netflix)

Liverpool-born Felix Mufti was a complete acting newcomer before he scored a role in the fourth and final season of Netflix’s mega hit Sex Education, alongside Ncuti Gatwa and Gillian Anderson. Mufti became a leading character in the series as Roman Zardari, student and boyfriend to fellow trans character, Abbi Montgomery (Anthony Lexa).

While Mufti is yet to bag their next big acting role, they’ve been busy recording and releasing music and currently have almost 15,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.

Anthony Lexa

Sex Education star Anthony Lexa.
Sex Education star Anthony Lexa. (Supplied)

As mentioned above, Anthony Lexa also stars in Sex Education season four as the perpetually positive and unintentionally toxic student Abbi Montgomery. While some viewers saw Abbi as a bit of a villain, she formed part of a powerful storyline with co-star Felix Mufti, who played her on-screen boyfriend Roman, when they gave the show its first ever trans sex scene.

Right now, Lexa is also focussing on music: in 2023, she released two tracks with Mufti, and plans to release more this year.

Ian Alexander

Ian Alexander. (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO

Ian Alexander might not be a household name, but this is why they should be: in 2020, they became the first trans actor to play a trans character in the Star Trek universe.

At the age of just 22, the American actor has starred in two seasons of Paramount+ series Star Trek: Discovery, with their third, and the show’s fifth season, due out in April.

Away from playing Gray in the beloved sci-fi series, Alexander has taken up a voice role in Disney Channel series Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. You may also recognise them for playing Buck and Michelle Vu in Netflix’s mystery drama series, The OA, and for voicing Lev in video game The Last of Us Part II.

Blu del Barrio

Star Trek: Discovery actor Blu del Barrio wears a grey and black blazer over a cream shirt while stood against a black and yellow background.
Star Trek: Discovery actor Blu del Barrio. (Getty/Hutton Supancic)

We’re talking Star Trek: Discovery again, as Blu del Barrio is best known as the first non-binary actor to star in and play a non-binary character in the Star Trek canon. From season three to five of the series, Barrio played Adira Tal, the partner of fellow trans Star Trek character Gray (Ian Alexander).

If Star Trek isn’t your bag, you may have heard their voice in another history-making role: they are the voice of Raine Whispers, Disney‘s first non-binary character, in fantasy series The Owl House.

Elliot Fletcher

Shameless star Elliot Fletcher in 2017
Shameless star Elliot Fletcher in 2017. (Getty/ Tasia Wells)

If you switched on your TV in the mid 2010s, you probably encountered Elliot Fletcher at some point or another. He found fame playing Noah in MTV rom com Faking It, before landing the role of Aaron in LGBTQ+ family drama The Fosters. That same year, 2016, he became a series regular in the US version of Shameless, playing Trevor.

It’s been almost a decade since his on-screen breakout, but Fletcher has kept the roles coming. Most recently, he’s starred as Sam Jordan, a trans man living in a world where cisgender men have been obliterated, in FX on Hulu’s post-apocalyptic drama, Y: The Last Man. You may have spotted him in Reneé Rapp’s comedy drama series The Sex Lives of College Girls, too, as he popped up for one episode in 2021.

Zach Barack

Zach Barack wears a dark suit as he appears at the Marvel Spider-Man Far From Home premiere
Marvel and Dead End: Paranormal Park star Zach Barack. (Getty)

One for all the superhero stans out there: Zach Barack plays Zach in the Tom Holland and Zendaya-starring film, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and is believed to be the first out trans actor to star in a Marvel film. Pretty cool, right?

If you don’t recognise his face, you might know his voice: the 28-year-old American actor is also known as the voice of lead character Barney Guttman in Netflix’s joyously queer (and unceremoniously cancelled) animated series, Dead End: Paranormal Park.

Tyler DiChiara

Gotham Knights star Tyler DiChiara.
Gotham Knights star Tyler DiChiara. (getty)

Another for the superhero stans: 24-year-old actor and gay trans man Tyler DiChiara was one of the stars who truly made The CW’s 2023 series Gotham Knights worth watching in his role as Cullen Row, and we’re sad that the show got canned so quickly.

However, while Gotham Knights was DiChiara’s first big TV role, it will undoubtedly not be his last.

Talisa García

Talisa García
Talisa García starred in Disney+ series Willow. (Getty/Mike Marsland)

Disney+ fanatasy series Willow was an absolute queer favourite (before it was given the chop – sigh), so many fans of the show will recognise British-Chilean actress Talisa García. The 50-year-old actress played Queen Arianna of Galladoorn and wife of King Zivian Hastur in the series, and helped to make the show what it is.

While her acting resume isn’t extensive, she deserves her flowers for becoming the first trans actress cast in a cisgender role in a Disney show. Truly, an icon.

Tylan Grant

British soap lovers will be well acquainted with Tylan Grant, who played trans character Phoenix Hathaway in Channel 4 drama Hollyoaks from 2018 until earlier this year. The character was known for his pregnancy and for dealing with being diagnosed with autism, but in 2021, his life took a turn when he realised that he was non-binary.

As Grant himself realised that he wasn’t non-binary but instead a trans man, the Hollyoaks writers allowed Phoenix to embark on a similar journey. Grant left the soap in January, and recently starred in short film, Surprise, Baby!

Bobbi Salvör Menuez

Bobbi Salvör Menuez in a white top with ginger hair slicked to the side.
My Animal and Euphoria actor Bobbi Salvör Menuez. (Getty/Matt Winkelmeyer)

American actor Bobbi Salvör Menuez has starred alongside big hitters including Kathryn Hahn in I Love Dick, Sydney Sweeney in Euphoria, and Margaret Qualley and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez in 2019 film Adam, but to most Americans, they are still relatively unknown.

However, in 2023, the 30-year-old actor, who identifies as trans and uses they/them pronouns, gave one of their best-ever performances alongside Bodies Bodies Bodies star Amandla Stenberg in werewolf thriller, My Animal.

In the film, Menuez plays Heather, a werewolf with a troubled family background. She meets Jonny (Stenberg), and the pair fall head-over-heels in a lycanthropic lesbian love story.

Leo Sheng

Leo Shang in a black t-shirt and a silver chain stood against a blue background.
The L Word: Generation Q star, Leo Sheng. (Getty/Presley Ann)

In a beautiful full-circle moment, actor Leo Shang came out as trans when he was just a pre-teen, after watching a clip of transmasculine The L Word character Max Sweeney (Daniel Sea) – then, more than a decade on, they joined the cast of The L Word reboot The L Word: Generation Q as trans man Micah Lee.

Sheng’s filmography might not be too long, but he was in The L Word: Generation Q for four years. Plus, he also starred alongside Bobbi Salvör Menuez and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez in Adam.

Mary Malone

Mary Malone
Doctor Who star Mary Malone. (YellowBelly/BBC/ TVZONEUK)

It’s been a pretty big past year for London-based actress Mary Malone. In 2023, she featured in hit ITV drama Vera and then in the Doctor Who Christmas special, The Church on Ruby Road, as Trudy. If that wasn’t enough, she hit the theatre stage in Abigail Thorn’s The Prince at London’s Southwark Playhouse.

2024 looks pretty stellar for the actress, too. In addition to joining the cast of FANGIRLS at the Lyrics Hammersmith Theatre, she’s set to appear in Missing You, the Harlan Coben adaptation on Netflix, alongside acting titans Lenny Henry and Steve Pemberton.

Iz Hesketh

Theatre actress Iz Hesketh, known for stage roles in iconic shows including Rent, The Book of Mormon and Legally Blonde, has started 2024 by diving headfirst into the world of TV. Hollyoaks fans will recognise her as newcomer Kitty Draper, who has played a key role in the soap’s recent, groundbreaking trans child storyline.

However, she’s also making waves on the big streamers, too. She’s currently starring as non-binary assistant Valerian in Sally Wainwright’s brand new Disney+ historical adventure series Renegade Nell, alongside Derry Girls favourite Louisa Harland.

Morgan Davies

Trans actor Morgan Davies plays Koby in Netflix series One Piece.
Trans actor Morgan Davies plays Koby in Netflix series One Piece. (Netflix/Instagram/@morganlogoff)

Last year, Australian actor Morgan Davies was praised for bringing “trans moron representation” to the horror genre, as he starred in Evil Dead Rise as the hapless Danny, one of the children fighting for survival against their own undead, possessed mother (Lily Sullivan).

It was probably his biggest role to date; that is, until he was cast in a little fantasy show called One Piece on Netflix, i.e. one of the streaming platform’s most critically lauded releases of 2023. Davies plays Koby in the series, a cabin boy with dreams of becoming a Marine. He will also star in the second season, which is currently in development.

Brian Michael Smith

Brian Michael Smith, a Black trans actor, wears a purple shirt and darker purple tie with a white suit jacket
9-1-1: Lone Star actor Brian Michael Smith.(Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage)

It’s wild that it took until 2020 to achieve this, but Brian Michael Smith made history when he joined the cast of 9-1-1: Lone Star on Fox at the turn of the decade, as he became the first trans man in a series regular role on a network television series in the US.

Smith plays firefighter Paul Strickland in the hit series, with the fifth season currently in production. If you’re not a 9-1-1: Lone Star fan though, you may have spotted Smith as Pierce Williams in another queer favourite, The L Word: Generation Q, or as Toine Wilkins in Oprah Winfrey’s drama series, Queen Sugar.

Outside of his TV work, Smith is also an advocate, having joined the Board of Directors of the Human Rights Campaign in 2021.

Georgie Stone

Neighbours star Georgie Stone reprises her role as trans character Mackenzie in the reboot.
Neighbours star Georgie Stone. (Ray Messner/Amazon Freevee)

Australian actress Georgie Stone is another trans star who knows a little something about making history. Back in 2011, when she was just 10-years-old, she won a landmark court case in Australia and became the youngest person in the country to receive hormone blockers – paving the way for many other young Australians to access stage one of gender-affirming healthcare.

Then, in 2019, she made history again by becoming the first trans actress to star in Neighbours, one of the most renowned soap operas in the world. She plays Mackenzie Hargreaves, also the show’s first trans character, to this day – and many of her storylines since her introduction haven’t focused on her trans identity, showcasing that trans characters are more than their transness.

Ki Griffin

Ki Griffin in a white shirt and multi-coloured tie.
History-making actor Ki Griffin. (Getty/ Eamonn M. McCormack)

Another soap actor, and another history maker: actor Ki Griffin, who uses he/they pronouns, became the first non-binary and intersex actor to star in a British soap when he joined the cast of Hollyoaks as Ripley Lennox in 2020.

Since departing from the show in 2022, Griffin has gone on to star in short film Kindred and Maddie Ziegler’s award-winning 2023 film, Fitting In. He’s also a model, and a very good one, too.

Zoe Terakes

Zoe Terakes in a white vest
Zoe Terakes. (Getty/Corey Nickols)

Now, you may have heard of Zoe Terakes in recent months – the actor, who identifies as transmasculine and non-binary and uses they and he pronouns, had a pretty killer 2023.

Most notably, they starred in arguably the best horror film of the year: Danny and Michael Philippou’s Talk To Me, alongside Sophia Wilde. Terakes played Hayley, who pressures lead character Mia (Wilde) and her friends to become possessed by an embalmed hand.

The film received a pretty great response, and Terakes’ profile grew. Then, they were named the Actor of the Year by GQ.

This year, Terakes’ star is only going to rise further, as they’re set to star alongside Drag Race favourite Shea Couleé in Marvel’s upcoming TV miniseries, Ironheart.

Rebecca Root

Rebecca Root in a white top and smiling.
Trans actress Rebecca Root. (Getty/Valerie Macon)

You may not instantly recognise English actress Rebecca Root, but chances are, she’s been in something you’ve watched and loved. Best known for starring in leading role in the 2015 BBC sitcom Boy Meets Girl, last year she appeared in Heartstopper season two as the principal of Lambert School, the art school Elle Argent (Yasmin Finney) is hoping to attend.

Root has also been in other Netflix favourites Sex Education and The Queen’s Gambit, and films including Eddie Redmayne’s trans Oscar-winner The Danish Girl and Alfred Enoch’s festive favourite This Is Christmas, as well as brand new Clive Owen miniseries, Monsieur Spade.

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