'Mrs. Fletcher' Pop-Up Highlights Trans Representation in Media: "What We Need Is More"

A general view of atmosphere at HBO's Mrs. Fletcher Pop-Up Preview Party -Getty handout - H 2019
Charley Gallay/Getty Images

"There is just this little bit of relief that comes every time I see another trans person on set. I’m used to being the only one," Jen Richards, who plays Margo Fairchild in the HBO series, shared at the event.

Ahead of Mrs. Fletcher's debut on HBO, a three-day pop-up event featuring panels led by sex experts kicked off in West Hollywood on Thursday. 

Starring Kathryn Hahn, the limited series chronicles the personal and sexual journeys of an empty-nest mother, Eve Fletcher, and her college freshman son (Jackson White), who both embrace their newfound freedom with mixed results. The story is based on the 2017 best-selling novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta, whose other works include Election (1998) and Little Children (2004). 

Ahead of panels, which will include "The Duality of Sex Positivity" on Friday and "The Social Sex Revolution: How to MakeLoveNotPorn Can Change Your Life" on Saturday, attendees could make their own vibrator, browse current sex toys and books centered on trans bodies, or check out full-body photography featuring different body types.

Trans actress Jen Richards, who plays Margo Fairchild in the series, spoke at the event about her place in the story and trans representation in the media. "There used to always be two tropes," Richards noted. "The young beautiful girl tricks the guy and that’s what we call The Deceptive, Crying Game is the example, and then the other more common is what we call The Pathetic, which is usually a older straight white guy who comes out late in age and then usually overperforms femininity and is just this tragic figure...Maura Pfefferman from Transparent, Tom Wilkinson in Normal, that list goes on and on."

Richards described HBO's approach as wanting "to make it more fresh" and "the way we ultimately wound up doing that is making her trans identity secondary to everything else."

"It just is not a big plot point, it comes up twice in the whole series," Richards added. "One thing I don’t like doing is when it’s all about you being trans, you are there to be a lesson for the protagonist to learn something through your struggle or work where there is no mention that I’m trans...and one where the default assumption is that I’m cis.... I’m fine with either of those...but this allows me to create a whole character whose identity can’t be reduced to that single factor but also doesn’t ignore it entirely, and that to me is the sweet spot."

During an event that highlighted, rather than shied away from, conversations about sex, sexuality, desire, kink and gender, Richards expressed a one-word solution to better trans representation.

"More," the actress said. "What we need is more."

"We need more trans writers, trans producers, even just having a trans person on set...on Mrs. Fletcher our prop master was a trans woman so she was taking care of my eye glasses all the time and there is just this little bit of relief that comes every time I see another trans person on set. I’m used to being the only one."

Additional reporting by Alexis Fish.