'Sense8' Team on Breaking Transgender Barriers

Bosses of Netflix's sci-fi thriller also defend the drama's adult material: "The show isn’t meant for young kids."
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'Sense8' at TCA

Sense8 is breaking transgender barriers in film and television.

According to trans actress Jamie Clayton, the Netflix sci-fi thriller features the first trans character whose storyline does not revolve around transitioning.

"Nomi's story has nothing to do with the fact that she’s trans," Clayton said of her character Tuesday during the Television Critics Association press tour. "She just is, and she’s living her life ... as a whole, complete person and no one cares that she’s trans — and they shouldn't because she's a human being."

Clayton's character is one of the eight strangers who become mentally and emotionally linked in the drama. The story follows the "Sensates," as they're called, as they attempt to discover how and why their lives are connected.

Not only does the series feature a trans character in a never-before-seen role, it also marks the first time a trans character has actually been written and directed by a trans woman, in this case Lana Wachowski.

"I knew in my gut that if I was ever to have an opportunity this big in Hollywood that it was going to be Lana who was going to do it — and, man, did she frickin’ do it," Clayton said of half of the sibling creative team behind The Matrix, who were both notably absent from the panel.

J. Michael Straczynski, who created the drama along with the Wachowskis, added that show set out to address meaty issues like sexuality, politics and identity, and isn't intended for kids.

"There’s been a tendency for science fiction to be seen as something other than for adults — it tends to be about either the MacGuffin, the device, the magic, the gadget, the gimmick or the mission. We wanted to make this show about the journey and [do something] for grown-ups," he said.

While the series has yet to be renewed, Straczynski acknowledged that the fan response for the show has been overwhelming (fans at Comic Con admitted to have been on their fourth, fifth or even sixth time through the series). He noted that he's remaining "cautiously optimistic" about a second season.

All twelve episodes of Sense8 hit the streaming service on June 5.

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