Judith Light has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ equality since the early 1980s, and she’s currently up for an Emmy for her performance in the breakout Amazon hit “Transparent,” playing the ex-wife of the transgender woman played by Jeffrey Tambor. So when Light made a previously scheduled visit to Variety‘s New York offices on the morning that President Trump announced his ban on transgender people serving in the military, the issue was top of mind.
What did you think of the news this morning?
Judith Light: I just heard about it. I don’t know a lot about it yet, or the specifics of it, so I don’t want to go into it in full depth, but I will say the first hit of it was extremely unsettling to me, and very worrisome. Any time there is discrimination poised directly at another group of people, and in particular in this case at the transgender community, it is very, very disturbing. And I think unnecessary. If there are these grand and glorious and brave and courageous people that want to go into the military, that is their choice and we make that available to them. They are great soldiers. All of our soldiers.
It’s like when Harry Truman said he was going to integrate the armed forces, and everybody was up in arms. We see how magnificently it has worked, but it took someone with great courage to say, “I am doing this.” I think about the extraordinary people that I know, these extraordinary people discounted, in such an off-handed way — it’s just very upsetting. We’ll see what the next step is in how we move to reverse that, in whatever way we can.
Has being on “Transparent” increased your connection to the transgender community?
There’s no question about that. Just being on a show where we’re talking about transgender issues so prominently — it’s about time, and it’s important and essential that we do so. There’s not a person out there that doesn’t have somebody in their family that comes to them and says, “Excuse me, I want to tell you that I’m not the person that you thought I was.” What it takes to do that, to risk losing love, losing family, losing your culture, your religion, your law. Everything. Talk about bravery, and courage. It’s remarkable to me. I’m in awe of this community. It’s stunning. Beautiful.