Jen Richards, popular trans actor, is flipping the script by playing a CIA agent on NBC’s show Blindspot.
In the past, roles of transgender women have typically gone to cis men. It was FX’s groundbreaking show Pose that brought trans women playing trans characters to the forefront. But now, Richards is breaking out of the typecasting bubble to play CIA agent, Sabrina Larren. Larren’s gender identity is not mentioned, which likely means she is cisgender. This is due to cisnormativity, especially in Hollywood, which implies that if a character is not explicitly denoted as trans, they are cis.
Blindspot follows the story of a woman who awoke in New York’s Times Square with no memory. The only clues she had as to how she got there are mysterious tattoos on her body.
Richards has previously spoken up about cis men being casted as trans women in a phenomenon called ‘transface.’ One example is the Matt Bomer film Anything, which Richards had auditioned for.
‘I auditioned for this. I told them they shouldn’t have a cis man play a trans woman. They didn’t care,’ Richards Tweeted at the time.
Additionally, Richards was vocal about Scarlett Johansson’s decision to accept (and then step down) from the role of a trans man in Rub & Tug.
‘To exhibit the spirit of generosity I earnestly want to see more of, I am going to take Scarlett Johansson at her word that she listened to feedback, realized that despite her intentions this was going to cause harm, and made the right decision to step down,’ Richards Tweeted. ‘Well done.’
CIA Agent Sabrina Larren
Check out a clip of Jen Richards as Sabrina Larren in Blindspot below:
EDIT: A previous version of this article said the character of Larren was cisgender. This was not accurate, and the article has been updated to reflect this.