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Out in TV Land: Queer Youth Characters on the Small Screen

A Sampling of Fictional LGBT High Schoolers, Past and Present

June 28, 2013



Unique, Glee (2009-Present)

Wade "Unique" Adams first appears in the third season of Glee as the featured singer in rival glee club Vocal Adrenaline who performs in competition in the gender that she is comfortable expressing. Unique, a young trans woman, is played by Alex Newell, who was the runner-up of reality show The Glee Project. Originally only meant for a two-episode arc, Alex received a longer arc due to popularity. Unique transfers to McKinley High School in season 4 and begins presenting as a girl during school hours, though she feels pressure to wear male attire at school. Unique auditions for the role of Rizzo in Grease and does really well at the audition. However, Sue Sylvester (the tyrannical cheerleading coach played by Jane Lynch) informs her parents, and scared of the bullying their daughter will face, they pull her from the show.

Unique is one of the only openly transgender characters on television, and one of few who are portrayed positively and happy. She prefers that people refer to her as "she" or "Unique." One of the biggest conflicts around terminology is when fellow classmate Ryder calls Unique "dude," and refuses to use feminine pronouns around her. However, Ryder's classmates persuade him to use feminine pronouns. Also, she discloses that she has been taunted while walking home, and the glee club offers to walk her home after school from that point on.

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