Chaz Bono and Jordan Todosey Talk “Degrassi”‘s Trans Storyline

Adam (Jordan Todosey) meets Chaz Bono in tonight’s Degrassi episode. (courtesy Epitome Pictures)

The teen soap Degrassi is known for tackling weighty subjects, and it doesn’t hold back with tonight’s double-episode airing on Teen Nick. Female to male trans teen Adam Torres (Jordan Todosey) is dealing with the fact that his beloved (and very Christian) girlfriend Becky (Sarah Fisher) says she can’t date him because of her parent’s feelings about Adam. However, Adam gets some words of encouragement from guest Chaz Bono, who plays himself judging the show’s Battle of the Bands.

AfterElton talked with both Todosey and Bono about tonight’s episodes and the importance of the storyline.

AfterElton: Adam is going through a lot in these episodes. How do you feel about his current story?
Jordan Todosey:
I love where the writers have gone with Adam. I just wanted him to be a regular guy and have a girlfriend and have fun. And now he finally has a girlfriend! He’s with Becky and the whole Chaz thing was just so awesome for him, and all his friends. He’s literally just having such an awesome time in high school, and I’m so happy for the character. I think a lot of the trans are too.

AE: Chaz, when were you first aware that the show had a trans character?
Chaz Bono:
I found out through a friend of mine at GLAAD about it. And then I ended up meeting everybody who works on the show and Jordan at the Emmys. Not this year but last year. And that was kind of when we first started batting this idea of me doing something on the show.

Todosey’s portrayal of Adam is one of the most popular on Degrassi.

AE: How was it working with Chaz on the show?
It was really chill. We just hung out on set. It was a really hot day so we were both sweating buckets and we had to stand in the sun, so I’m sure we were complaining a bit about that. But no, it was really fun. We were just talking about how it is to play this kind of character, and how I’m so different and how I have to totally be somebody I’m not. Chaz really just helped me feel closer to Adam. I felt like it helped me bring out as much in the character as I could.

AE: What did you think of the show’s portrayal of Adam?
I knew about it because they reached out to my friend Nick Adams at GLAAD, who’s a trans man. So right off the bat they wanted to do this right.

I do a group with trans teens, and we got together with some of the actors from Degrassi who were out here, including Jordan, doing some promotional stuff. We got our teens together so that Jordan could actually meet some trans teens. From the top down to the actor playing the role, [the show has] been striving to have it be as accurate as possible, and I do think they’re spot on.

AE: Jordan, when you first took the role, did you predict he would really connect so much with the audience?
When I first took on the role, it was so intimidating. I worried about portraying him truthfully. I’m continuing to do that, and hopefully it’s paid off. I mean, I always hear such great talk back from trans, and people who watch the show. They love Adam, and the writers have done such a groovy job.

One thing standing between Adam and Becky’s happiness? Becky’s father, Rev. Baker.

AE: So in the new episodes, what’s next for Adam and Becky? This is Degrassi, after all!
There’s, of course, going to be super Degrassi drama, I’m sure, with Adam and Becky. They have to have their first big fight still. So that will be fun. Adam’s just having fun, with the band, and the radio show. I don’t know. He’s getting really confident in himself, and I love to see that.

AE: Jordan, you are not trans, but I was curious what traits in Adam you can also relate to?
Adam and I both have a love for music, as he hosts a radio show and is in a band. And I’ll admit I love comic books, especially as a kid. I used to read comics all the time. When I found out that Adam is totally into comics, I was like, ‘Oh, sweet. Maybe I can read some comics while I’m playing him.’

AE: Chaz, I couldn’t help but think, what would your life or my life be like if we’d seen this story 20 or 30 years ago? I can’t imagine the impact it has on kids now.
One of the kids in my group actually started watching Degrassi, and that’s how he figured out that he was trans. At first he thought he was a lesbian, as a lot of trans guys do, and you try that on and it just doesn’t feel right. And then he saw that character and figured it out. I know of at least one story where it literally changed somebody’s life.

Degrassi airs on Teen Nick tonight at 9pm.

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