The next episode of ABC's hit comedy Modern Family will feature TV's first openly transgender child actor. The Emmy-winning sitcom — now in its eighth season — has cast 8-year-old transgender actor Jackson Millarker as a friend of Lily's, Cam and Mitchell's daughter in the show. According to Variety, the parents allow Lily to have her transgender friend Tom over to the house for a playdate.
"Both parents are filled with pride that they have done well in raising an accepting and open-minded child," Variety's Joshua Terry wrote. "But that pride quickly diminishes when Lily insults her friend, which they use as a teachable moment."
The director of the episode, Ryan Case, shared a photo of herself with Millarker on Monday.
"This is Jackson Millarker," the caption reads. "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."
Trans actors are slowly earning more roles on TV. Laverne Cox is a recurring cast member on Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, and will also appear as a regular in CBS' upcoming legal procedural series, Doubt. Transgender actor Elliot Fletcher appeared in MTV's now-canceled Faking It and Freeform's The Fosters. Transgender teenager Jazz Jennings also stars in her own TLC reality series, I Am Jazz.
But cisgender actors are still being cast for transgender roles. Matt Bomer was cast as a trans woman in a forthcoming Mark Ruffalo-produced film, and Michelle Rodriguez plays a hitman who forcibly undergoes a sex-change operation in the critically panned Re(Assignment).
Meanwhile, TV's best series with regard to transgender representation, Amazon's Transparent, features a cisgender white actor (Jeffrey Tambor) as the show's transgender lead. However, after winning his second Emmy for the role this year, Tambor called for more trans actors in such roles.
"I would not be unhappy if I were the last cisgender male to play a female transgender on television," Tambor said in his acceptance speech.
Modern Family's "A Stereotypical Day" airs Wednesday at 9 p.m. Eastern.