‘Modern Family’ Casts Transgender Child Actor Jackson Millarker

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Just a week after celebrities used the Emmys as a platform to urge Hollywood to give more opportunities to transgender performers, Modern Family has announced that their ABC series will feature a transgender child star in an upcoming episode.

Jackson Millarker, 8, will play the trans companion of Cam (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and Mitchell’s (Eric Stonestreet) daughter, Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons). Titled “A Stereotypical Day,” the episode centers around the parents inviting Lily’s transgender friend over for a play date. Though the two are initially filled with pride that they’re raising an open-minded child, their delight quickly turns to panic when Lily insults her friend.

“This is Jackson Millarker,” Ryan Case, the director of the episode, wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of the newcomer. “He’s 8 years old, from Atlanta, and just happens to be transgender. He plays Lily’s friend Tom in this week’s Modern Family and he’s wonderful. One of the many reasons I love being a part of this show.”

During this year’s Emmy Awards, Jeffrey Tambor and Laverne Cox, who play transgender characters on Transparent and Orange Is the New Black respectively, both voiced their opinions about the lack of roles for trans people.

“To you people, you producers and network owners, agents and creative sparks. Please give transgender talent a chance. Give them auditions. Give them their story. Do that,” Tambor said in his acceptance speech for his second Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series award. “I would not be unhappy if I were the last cisgender male to play a female transgender on television.”

“Give trans talent a shot,” Cox, who is transgender, echoed. “I would not be here today if somebody didn’t give me a chance.”