Patti Harrison Becomes First Trans Actor to Appear in a Disney Film with 'Raya and The Last Dragon'

by Brendan Walker

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday March 10, 2021
Originally published on March 10, 2021

The release of Disney's "Raya and The Last Dragon" over the weekend quietly marked a huge achievement for representation in cinema, boasting the first ever role for a trans actor in any Disney movie from Patti Harrison.

The film, which is a fantasy animation with a predominantly Asian cast, centers on a mystical world called Kumandra, which is divided into five lands: Heart, Talon, Spine, Fang, and Tail.

According to Pink News, Harrison, who was named as one of Variety's 10 Comics to Watch in 2019, is featured as the Tail Chief towards the start of the film. Though it's a small role, this still represents a huge milestone for trans actors in the film industry.

In addition to her appearance in "Raya," Harrison is also known for a variety of television roles, including in TBS' "Search Party" and Hulu's "Shrill," as well as acting as a lead writer on Netflix's "Big Mouth."

Viewers have also been left with the impression that Raya might have boasted the first same-sex romance in a Disney movie, between leads Raya, voiced by Kelly Marie Tran, and Namaari, voiced by Gemma Chan.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Tran said she believed that the feelings between the two were of a romantic nature.

"I think if you're a person watching this movie and you see representation in a way that feels really real and authentic to you, then it is real and authentic," Tran would say. "I think it might get me in trouble for saying that, but whatever."

"Raya and The Last Dragon" is available for streaming on Disney+.