Actress Dot-Marie Jones explains why she thinks it's the right time to tell this kind of story

By Amanda Michelle Steiner
Updated January 19, 2015 01:30 PM
Tommy Garcia/FOX

Glee is once again breaking new ground on broadcast television: Coach Shannon Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones) revealed on Friday’s episode that she is transgender and will undergo sex reassignment surgery.

As Coach Beiste explained to Sam (Chord Overstreet) in simple terms, being transgender means “your outsides don’t match how you feel you are on the inside. This isn’t about who I want to go to bed with – it’s who I want to go to bed as.”

Indeed, as Beiste reveals, she is still attracted to men, and that won’t change following her reassignment surgery.

“Like it or not, it’s real life,” Jones, 51, told The Hollywood Reporter of her character’s decision. “We know it will make a difference. Look at all the things that all the kids on our show have gone through, everything that Chris Colfer and Kurt have gone through. Of any show on broadcast, it should be a FOX show because they are the risk-takers. I don’t even thinking taking a risk is the right word. It’s just real.”

THR, noting the timeliness of the storyline given the recent suicide of Leelah Alcorn, prompted Jones to advise: “Even for kids who are scared to come out: Talk to somebody. And if nobody will listen, you keep on until you find somebody who will listen.”

Glee airs on Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

For more information about transgender issues, visit the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and PFLAG.