ABC’s medical-drama juggernaut Grey’s Anatomy (holding strong at the Thursday 8 p.m. primetime spot) has cast Candis Cayne in a substantial role to span multiple episodes during the 14th season.
Cayne most recently improved the small screen in the groundbreaking Amazon series Transparent. In Grey’s Anatomy, she will play a transgender patient at the fictional Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital, admitted to undergo an innovative vaginoplasty procedure. The subplot is based on the true story of Hayley Anthony, a patient who helped surgeon Jess Ting invent the groundbreaking gender affirmation surgery. As of September 2017, 22 trans women received this treatment at the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai.
The event influenced Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff to incorporate the milestone into the show.
“[The surgery] revolutionizes the making of a vagina and we thought that was a really cool story and Candis is playing a character inspired by something we read,” Vernoff told The Hollywood Reporter.
In the present season, trans actor Alex Blue Davis has been a key figure, playing intern Dr. Casey Parker. In the episode “Out of Nowhere,” the character’s gender is revealed AFTER the doctor helps avert a hospital disaster; Dr. Parker then tells Bailey (Chandra Wilson) he is a “proud trans man.” This is a spin on the commonplace formula of television storytelling, which is a canny shift since it will allow character-building access to a plethora of layers, dimensions and intelligences. (It’s about time!) Davis is thrilled about the artistic possibilities.
“What’s cool about the show, the episode and Krista’s vision for this character is he’s about way more than being trans,” Davis told The Hollywood Reporter after “Out of Nowhere” aired. “I cried at the table read, it was very moving for me. I’ve been waiting for a moment like this on TV my whole life. I am so honored I got to say that line on TV because it’s a long time coming.”
Cayne made history in 2007 as the first trans actor assuming the role of a recurring trans character on ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money. She’s since appeared on The Magicians, Heartbeat and Nip/Tuck.