Transgender actress joining ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ for storyline based on true story

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Now in its 14th season, “Grey’s Anatomy” appears to be working to keep viewers engaged, including bringing old characters back and teasing a possible character deaths. Next up, the series will explore transgender issues.

Candis Cayne, one of the world’s most recognizable transgender actresses, is set to join the popular ABC medical drama for a multi-episode run later this season. Cayne will play a transgender patient who comes to the hospital for vaginoplasty surgery. The character’s story arc was inspired by real-life events.

candis cayne photo
Getty Images | Joshua Blanchard

The Real-Life Story Behind The Episode

Hayley Anthony, a 30-year-old trans woman, helped Dr. Jess Ting, the director of surgery at the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai in New York, create this innovative surgery.

mount sinai hospital photo
Getty Images | Bryan Bedder

After helping come up with the idea to take a piece of tissue from the cavity of the abdomen to turn into a vagina, Anthony became one of the first patients to undergo the procedure.


“[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,” “Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff told The Hollywood Reporter.

The storyline will be the show’s second nod to transgender characters this season.

In the show’s midseason premiere, intern Dr. Casey Parker, played by trans actor Alex Blue Davis, revealed that he is a “proud trans man” after he helped during a hostage situation at the hospital. By emphasizing that his trans identity wasn’t the most important part of his character’s identity, the show helped shift the way transgender stories are usually told on network television.

Cayne’s Other TV Roles

In 2007, Cayne made history as the first transgender actress with a recurring role as a trans character in a primetime show with her role in ABC’s “Dirty Sexy Money.”

Mark Mainz/Getty Images

She has also appeared in “Nip/Tuck,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” “The Magicians,” “Transparent” and “I Am Cait,” her friend Caitlyn Jenner’s reality show.

candis cayne photo
Getty Images | Dimitrios Kambouris

Fellow trans actress Laverne Cox, who plays trans prisoner Sophia Burset in Netflix’s hit “Orange Is the New Black,” praised Cayne’s performance in “Dirty Sexy Money” as a moment that “changed my life, that changed my career, that made me think it was possible to have be an out trans woman as an actor.”

laverne cox photo
Getty Images | Jason Merritt/TERM

“Grey’s Anatomy” airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.

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Kate Streit lives in Chicago. She enjoys stand-up comedy, mystery novels, memoirs, summer and pumpkin spice anything. Visit Scripps News to see more of Kate's work.

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