This video essay was created in response to a provocation given at the Critical Studies in Television Conference, 2023: ‘What strategies do marginalised audiences, individuals and communities employ to satisfy their needs?’ The essay focuses on how trans reading as a fandom activity can enrich the storyline and characters on network and cable genre television shows in the face of cisnormative and heterosexist hegemony.

The essay looks closely at the protagonist of the FX series Justified (2010-2015), Raylan Givens. Although the character has been previously analysed by media scholars and television critics as a figure emblematic of archetypal forms of masculinity, when analysed through a trans lens it is more than possible to read transness in the character’s backstory, presence and actions. The strategy of trans reading gains importance in claiming space for trans people within the history of television.

A work in progress of this video essay was shown at the Critical Studies in Television Conference at Edge Hill University, 6th July, 2023.

Full transcript with bibliography attached as a Word document here: Transcript – ‘I’m just my daddy’s child’ Justified & transgender readings of network and cable television characters.


Sammy Holden is a postgraduate researcher at Edge Hill University, a filmmaker, and film and media educator. Their practice-as-research PhD explores support for transgender and non-binary people in film.