A new legal TV drama Doubt starring Katherine Heigl and Laverne Cox is starting on CBS. The producers have admitted the fact that it was personally important for them to include transgender character into this series as one of the main characters.

Cameron Wirth, Laverne’s character, is quite common for those who saw a lot of legal drama – the highly capable female attorney who can sway a jury with quiet confidence while jockeying for position and respect at her boutique law firm. But there is a fact that makes this character a little bit different – the fact Cameron was a boy.

'Doubt': Laverne Cox

Just in a pilot, we are introduced to Laverne’s character and we learn the fact that she is a transgender woman. It is obvious that her introduction marks the most prominent role by a member of the transgender community in a network drama.

We already knew Laverne for her brilliant performance as a transgender character on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, which made her the first transgender nominee for Emmy awards. But right now she is making history again by being the first regular transgender character in a TV series.

Laverne was interested in this project herself. When the series was announced and the agents got the scripts of the pilot, Laverne’s agent contacted Doubt producers immediately and said: “Look, this is Laverne’s role. She is going to fly herself from New York to LA to audition for you,” remembers the creator of the show Tony Phelan.

'Doubt': Laverne Cox

Tony Phelan and Joan Rater, creators of the show, wrote this role thinking about Laverne Cox. “We knew she was on Orange, so we assumed that she was unavailable, and we were ready to conduct a nationwide talent search to find the person who was going to play Cam,” Phelan admits. But as we see Laverne was eager to take part herself. the only thing that mattered to her that the story of Cameron should be portrayed in a respectful way. Which is exactly what you can expect from people who are raising a transgender son.

Phelan and Rater admit that their transgender son inspired them to bring a transgender character to the show. “We wrote it [Doubt] because we love law shows. And we came up with Doubt when we wondered what would happen if a defense attorney developed romantic feelings for her client,» they say. «We started to imagine the law firm she worked in, who else worked there, and that one of the other attorneys was transgender. Our son had recently told us he was transgender, so it was on our mind.”

'Doubt': Laverne Cox

It is really important to have a transgender character on network TV. Cox admits that: “It’s a different audience,” she said last month during a roundtable discussion with the press. “When you look at Netflix versus network TV, this may reach a little more of middle America. And that’s good.”

Roxanne Anderson, chair of the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition, agrees: “It just makes the access point that much larger. Laverne is the right person at the right time. Trans women of color have to be the next rally cry. She approaches life with a zest and she puts out this energy that people just want to be close to.”

Of course, transgender visibility has increased on television in recent years, thanks to such shows like Transparent or Orange Is the New Black, but still there are boundaries to be broken, which is why creating a regular transgender character with a great story is an achievement. Despite the tradition, creators didn’t want to show Cameron’s acceptance path, on the contrary, “We are telling the story of somebody who is secure in who they are and existing in the world and trying to succeed in their personal life and their professional life,» Phelan and Rater said.

'Doubt': Laverne Cox

Bringing some romance story to transgender is also something new for TV: “She is a trans woman dating a cis [that’s short for cisgender] man,” Phelan says, “and it’s something that Laverne had all sorts of ideas about as a trans woman who dates cis men.”

This TV drama is, no doubt fun, but it also is giving some new perspective on things and hopefully will help to change some people’s attitude towards transgender people.

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