The Category Is … Making Golden Globe History

By Charlotte Filippone

“Gold­en Globe Awards” by Joe Shlabot­nik is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Imag­ine win­ning some­thing as pres­ti­gious as a Gold­en Globe. That alone would be a mind-blow­ing accom­plish­ment, right? Now imag­ine snatch­ing a sec­ond, maybe even more note­wor­thy tro­phy. “Put your glass slip­pers away, Transerel­la. It ain’t nev­er gonna hap­pen!” would snark a Bil­ly-Porter-por­trayed Pray Tell on Pose. Except this time, it real­ly did hap­pen. By tak­ing home the award for Best Actress in a TV Dra­ma for her role of Blan­ca Evan­ge­lista in FX hit series Pose (2018–2021), Michaela Jaé “MJ” Rodriguez became the first open­ly trans­gen­der actress to ever win a Gold­en Globe.

For the New Jer­sey-based actress, who turned 31 just three days before her ground-break­ing achieve­ment, that’s real­ly the icing on the cake. But what makes this so special?

“Why do you have to shove this garbage in our faces?” I can pic­ture out­raged boomers up in arms, rack­ing their brains, try­ing to under­stand what’s between her legs. “It shouldn’t make news.” Yes, we know. Being trans shouldn’t be a remark­able fea­ture for assess­ing someone’s tal­ent. Nobody’s imply­ing that. But ask your­self why, in 2022, it’s still so impor­tant for some to under­line it. Could it be that bury­ing your head in the sand and expect­ing the out­side world to reflect the tee­ny-tiny bub­ble you live in is not the answer?

In fact, even if tremen­dous steps have been tak­en towards inclu­sion and accep­tance, there’s still an appalling lack of on-screen trans rep­re­sen­ta­tion, which makes it incred­i­bly hard for trans actors to thrive in the indus­try. Even more so if you con­sid­er that cis actors often get cast to play trans roles, while this can’t be said the oth­er way around.

“It’s not like you’re doing us a favor because you are flick­ing your nose at an entire demo­graph­ic of peo­ple who are telling you, ‘We are not okay with this.’ We are not only capa­ble of telling our own sto­ries, but telling sto­ries in gen­er­al,” com­plained co-star Indya Moore in an inter­view. “If this is a way to chal­lenge your­self as an actor, then I think you should let us chal­lenge, and play some cis roles,” added MJ herself.

After last year’s Emmy nom­i­na­tion, MJ final­ly got long over­due recog­ni­tion for the work in her character’s heels. Pose – which is set in New York’s under­ground ball­room cul­ture at the height of the AIDS cri­sis – taps into the life of trans and queer peo­ple of col­or. Out­casts who have been aban­doned and spit. In the show, MJ plays Blan­ca, a trans Lati­na ball­room house­moth­er who doesn’t fall apart after find­ing out she’s HIV-pos­i­tive. Fierce, yet nur­tur­ing. Thick-skinned, yet vul­ner­a­ble. She elbows her way through life, all the way to suc­cess. Just like MJ did.

Despite a small­er cer­e­mo­ny, she shared her unbri­dled emo­tion with an accep­tance speech on an IG live, “This is for the LGBTQAI, Black, Lati­na, Asian, the many mul­ti beau­ti­ful col­ors of the rain­bow. This is not just for me, this is for y’all. This is the door that opens for y’all. Not me, for y’all. There’s going to be so many young, tal­ent­ed, thriv­ing indi­vid­u­als that are going to be able to trail in, storm in the door. This is for y’all.”

Now let’s walk togeth­er through that door.

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Char­lotte Fil­ip­pone is an Ital­ian stu­dent of Inter­lin­guis­tic Medi­a­tion, cur­rent­ly doing her Eras­mus at Leuphana Uni­ver­si­ty Lüneb­urg. Among her favorite ways to blow off steam are stay­ing in con­tact with nature, either hik­ing or run­ning, and cook­ing with her family.