Instagram: thejulianajoel
Instagram: thejulianajoel

Trans actress Juliana Joel has opened up about the backlash she faced after joining the Disney Channel series Raven’s Home.

Back in July 2022, the Book of Queer star made history when she became the first openly trans actress to star in a Disney Channel production.

While LGBTQ+ viewers praised the network for introducing Joel’s groundbreaking character, the decision was also met with anti-trans hate from conservative parents.

On a recent episode of Christy Carlson Romano’s Vulnerable podcast, Joel opened up about the backlash she faced after her casting was announced.

“[There were all these parents saying: ‘Oh, I’m cancelling Disney, they’re trying to groom our kids,” she recalled.

“What do you think I am going to do on the show? Do you think I am going to get up there and teach kids how to inject hormones? No!”

Elsewhere in the interview, Joel gave further insight into how she stumbled upon the role of Nikki.

“I got a call from my team that Disney was looking for an out trans actor to play an out trans character on Disney Channel, and my jaw dropped,” she explained.


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“I’m like, ‘Excuse me, like in 2022 or is this like 10 years down the road, and we’re just prepping.’ Especially because we had just come out of the like Disney ‘Don’t Say Gay’ backlash.”

While she initially had reservations over the role, the young talent went on to audition and book Raven’s Home – which she described as a full circle moment.

“You don’t understand. I was the biggest Disney fan,” Joel explained to Romano.

“So for me to be on that set which is on that show which is a version of my favourite childhood show, and I get to do that authentically as myself as a positive trans character. I cried in that dressing room.”

Towards the end of her interview, Joel gave a powerful statement on why conservative lawmakers are targeting the trans community with hateful rhetoric and legislation.

“I feel trans people hold a mirror to everybody else that makes them look into themselves and realize how they are failing themselves. And that makes them uncomfortable with us,” she said.

“Because how could a person who lives in a world that has all these laws, that has media telling the world it’s okay to brutalize this group of people… how can this group of people still get up out of their beds and live their lives happily or at least try to.”

You can watch Joel’s full interview here or below.