20 moments that prove Ugly Betty was ahead of its time

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Alexis Meade being a multidimensional trans character

Nowadays, transgender stories are becoming more and more commonplace on network television, but unfortunately they’re still few and far between. Back in 2006, when Ugly Betty first premiered, they were basically non-existent, but this show was ahead of its time, thanks to Alexis Meade.

Though she was played by the cisgender actress Rebecca Romijn, Alexis Meade was still one of the first major trans characters on television. Alexis was born Alex, the golden boy of the Meade family and Daniel’s older brother. After admitting to Bradford that they were planning on transitioning, Bradford disowned his child, so Alex faked their death, and returned with a vengeance as Alexis, ready to take over the company that was rightfully hers.

Besides the character itself being groundbreaking, the best part was that they made Alexis a fully rounded character, with struggles of her own. Throughout her time on the show, Alexis dealt with problems that many trans people face, such as having a parent who doesn’t accept your transition, being referred to by your birth name or the wrong gender pronoun, dating as a trans woman, and learning to cope with the giant changes that come after your transition.

Alexis was welcomed warmly by her mother Claire, though it took Daniel some warming up to. But that’s a normal, realistic reaction to someone near and dear to you transitioning, and Ugly Betty captured that even years before these stories were being told in mainstream media.

The character of Alexis was not without faults, though. The year 2006 was a very different time, and unfortunately Alexis was constantly the butt of “tranny” and “he-she” jokes. They weren’t used as a plot device to further a story about transphobia either, but instead were just part of the gag and were used as casually as they called Betty fat or Wilhelmina a bitch.

Even with the casual transphobia of the mid-2000s, Alexis Meade is still a character thar deserves recognition, and further proof that Ugly Betty was way ahead of its time.