On September 3, Hulu premiered First Day, a groundbreaking new Australian show which follows Hannah Bradford, a young trans girl, as she starts middle school as her authentic self. While navigating the typical challenges that come with starting a new school, Hannah also faces some difficult situations that ultimately allow her to find more confidence in herself and learn the value of true friendship.
The four-episode series, aimed at a middle school audience, stars young Australian trans actress Evie Macdonald as Hannah, and Macdonald’s performance adds a beautiful authenticity to the well-written scripts. As Hannah, Evie becomes the first transgender actor to be cast in the lead role of an Australian television series. You can see an interview with Evie here and here. (The series also features a cameo by GLAAD 20 Under 20 honoree Sarah Rose Huckman. Huckman is the one of the stars of the 2019 documentary Changing the Game about trans high school athletes. GLAAD consulted on the series while it was in pre-production, and one aspect of our collaboration was connecting the producers to Sarah Rose.)
Unlike many stories about transgender youth which tend to center the feelings of the parents, First Day is Hannah’s story, told from her point of view. First Day’s wholesome, age-appropriate story gives viewers true insight into the experiences of trans youth as they balance school, friends, family, and finding their confidence, all at the same time. Alongside the show’s premiere in Australia, the Australian Children’s Television Foundation created a Teaching Toolkit to accompany the show.
The show’s writer and director, Julie Kalceff, said of making First Day, “When we don’t see ourselves and people like us reflected in the media, it affects the way we feel about ourselves and the way we see the world. The message is that we’re invisible, that we don’t count, or worse still, there’s something wrong with us. We begin to wonder about our place in society and if we’re valued as a person…. Of course, the type of representation matters. If a character is merely defined by their ‘otherness’ and is used solely as a plot device, it can be more damaging than helpful. We need representation of complex characters who are three-dimensional human beings, and being transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, a person of color, someone of varied ability, or a woman is only one aspect of the character, not their defining feature. This not only benefits those finally seeing themselves represented, but also creates empathy within the wider audience. Stories are powerful and have the potential to create change – now more than ever.”
While the show is targeted to younger viewers, everyone can enjoy watching a series that avoids trans trauma and the tropes and clichés about what it means to trans. This is especially true during this time in which those who support and affirm transgender youth are under attack from people trying to use trans kids as a wedge in the culture wars.
Nick Adams, GLAAD’s Director of Transgender Representation, commended the series for its authentic portrayal of a young trans girl’s experience:
“First Day features a beautiful performance by Evie MacDonald, a talented, young transgender actress. The team behind the series worked closely with Evie to authentically capture what it’s like to be a young girl who happens to be transgender. This series is a wholesome, age-appropriate story about being yourself, and is a much-needed departure from transgender narratives that focus on medical transition and trauma. I hope viewers will watch ‘First Day’ and learn more about the experiences of kids who are trans.“
The series is now available to stream on Hulu.