How Grey's Anatomy Introduced Its First Major Transgender Character
This week's episode of Grey's Anatomy bombarded us with a lot of new things that probably came out of left field for most. We were hit with the usual, emotional Grey's stuff (disaster striking the hospital and Maggie and Jackson weirdness), but we also had the long-anticipated return of Jo's ex to the hospital. But the most monumental moment was intern Casey's short and simple coming out.
The episode begins as a relatively normal day, but like most calm Grey's Anatomy moments, it doesn't last long. In a split second, all of the electronics in the hospital are no longer working, and after calling I.T. we find out that the hospital has been hacked. Casey, played by Alex Blue Davis, is the one to hack back into the system to get the hospital up and running once again . . . and Casey happens to be a transgender man.
Before this episode, Casey's gender identity hadn't been brought up or discussed. The only reason Casey is seen as a unique intern throughout the episode is because he is smart enough to know to fry the keypad to the blood room, and then genius enough to stop the hacking. There is no hint of Casey's personal life throughout the beginning of the episode, except when he explains to Bailey that he had been arrested for hacking the DMV.
It isn't until the very end of the episode that Casey comes out as transgender, and when he does, it's very short and matter of fact. In response to Bailey asking why he hacked the DMV, Casey says, "Because my old license referred to me as female, and the DMV where I lived wouldn't change it. I'm a proud trans man, Dr. Bailey. I just like people to get to know me before my private medical history."
A lot of thought went into this episode in regards to Davis's character coming out, which really shows in the episode. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, showrunner Krista Vernoff shared that she wanted the audience to know the character before his private life. Actor Davis said, "What's cool about the show, the episode, and Krista's vision for this character is he's about way more than being trans."
The line "proud trans man" was written and rewritten multiple times, according to Vernoff, because everyone wanted it to be powerful and respectful.
Davis himself is a transgender man and said in regards to playing a transgender character in this unique way, "People can see trans folks in a new light: these are people who walk among us and are human beings who have lives. They're not defined by being trans." Vernoff said, "I just wanted Casey to be a whole person who is an Army veteran, a good doctor, and one of the gang — who happens to be trans."
Vernoff says that Casey might end up with a love interest but believes it would be "revolutionary" to have a regular character who just happens to be transgender. Going off of the last episode, it seems that is definitely the direction the show seems to be going.