E’s unscripted series “I Am Cait” created a sensation last year following the journey of Caitlyn Jenner, who came out as a trans woman in 2015. While season one explored Caitlyn’s new life [“It’s like trans 101 to her,” says Jeff Olde, exec VP of programming & development, at E!], season two took Caitlyn and her cohorts outside the “bubble,” says Olde, on a road trip, and introduced a new — and young — cast member.
The 18-year-old Ella Giselle joined Jenner and activist Jennifer Finney Boylan, author Kate Bornstein, actress Candis Cayne, and activist Chandi Moore as they hit the roads of America.
“It’s so inspiring to be with them, and when we’re not filming, just hanging out with them. I grew so much,” says Giselle, whose senior year in high school was the first she lived as an openly transgender woman.
The fact that “I Am Cait” chose to feature a teen is important for LGBT issues. “Gay rights and the movement and acceptance was stagnant and it just took off,” says Olde. “The speed with which trans issues has taken off is incredible.”
Giselle’s presence has helped trans teens around the world accept themselves although they still face many challenges.
“I’ve made so many new friends who reached out to me from so many different places and talked about their issues,” Giselle says. “The most rewarding thing is to give hope to people across the globe. Because of the show, I am there for them through their transitions.”
But the teen also brings a different point of view to the show.
“I’m almost like a product of their work,” she says, noting that her experience as a trans teen in 21st century Southern California is very different from those of the pioneer women on the show. “I got to go to school, be myself. I am an example of their work. Kate is a pioneer. She got death threats. Me? I get to go to high school. They reminded me of how hard they had it.”
The show is important to viewers in the global TV market. “I am really proud that ‘Cait’ airs around the world in 125 countries and in countries where it’s illegal to be gay or trans,” Olde says.