Focus Features

7 Transgender Movie Characters That Paved The Way For 'The Danish Girl'

'The Danish Girl' owes a debt to these movies featuring transgender characters.

"The Danish Girl" has Oscar written all over it. Director Tom Hooper's resume boasts both "Les Misérables" and Best Picture winner "The King's Speech," and star Eddie Redmayne scooped up every award ever last year for his portrayal of astrophysicist Stephen Hawking in "The Theory of Everything."

Now, add another dynamite story into the mix: "The Danish Girl" is based on the novel of the same name, which follows the life of Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of gender reassignment surgery. Premiering Saturday (Sept. 12) at the Toronto Film Festival, "The Danish Girl" is certainly one of the biggest releases ever featuring a transgender main character, a milestone in the motion picture business. However, "The Danish Girl" didn't spring out of nothing -- many, many films featuring transgender characters came before it.

Ahead, seven films that helped pave the way for "The Danish Girl."

  1. "The Christine Jorgensen Story," 1970

    This 1970 movie is a fictionalized account of the life of trans woman Christine Jorgensen, based on Jorgensen's autobiography. John Hansen played Jorgensen, and the film received mixed reviews.

  2. "The World According To Garp," 1982

    John Lithgow received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance as former football player and transgender woman Roberta Muldoon, a role that he has since called "the least acting I've ever done in a movie." Lithgow said it was important to play Roberta as "a perfectly normal person."

  3. "The Silence of the Lambs," 1991

    One of the most hated movie villains of all time is also one of the most controversial portrayals of a transgender person on film. Regardless, it's a memorable filmic milestone.

  4. "Boys Don't Cry," 1999

    The dramatization of the real-life story of Brandon Teena made major waves as an Oscar favorite and major studio release. A critical favorite, "Boys Don't Cry" was an important point in Hollywood history.

  5. "Transamerica," 2005

    Felicity Huffman's moving portrayal of a trans woman who goes on a road trip with her grown son -- prompting them to learn about one another as they really are -- was dramatic, funny, sweet and sad. Her character, Bree, has deep dimension, and Huffman was recognized by both the Oscars and the Golden Globes for her performance.

  6. "Dallas Buyers Club," 2013

    Jared Leto shocked the world when he debuted his dramatic transformation to play Rayon in "Dallas Buyers Club," and his character's journey tugged at heartstrings. His performance was lauded, as a surely sagging trophy shelf somewhere in Leto's home can attest.

  7. "Boy Meets Girl," 2015

    This recent indie featured trans actress Michelle Hendley playing the role of a young trans woman, a relatively rare occurrence. Also rare: the movie's mix of lighthearted comedy and romance, while still not casting a blind eye to the darker problems life can present.