"I just didn't want to let down the girls who are straight and tomboys that my character represented the last four seasons,' " Jones tells PEOPLE of her character transitioning from female to male on the FOX show's sixth – and final – season. "But I got the script and I was, like, 'Oh my God. This is amazing.' "
Coach Beiste will reveal his new look on the Feb. 13 episode of the musical dramedy (Friday at 9 p.m. ET), and PEOPLE has the exclusive first look.
Greg Gayne / FOX
"I had thousands of Tweets from people. I was crying," Jones says of the reaction after her character announced his transition on the Jan. 16 episode of Glee. "Members of the transgender community were saying, 'I never thought I’d see myself on TV. You have no idea what this means to me. Now, maybe people will get it.' "
Jones relished the opportunity to portray a transgender person and she credits her hair and makeup team for helping her fully immerse herself into the role.
"People walk by me and I forget that I'm in [the hair and makeup to make me look like a man]," she says. "I'll say, 'Hey.' And they'll say, 'Hi.' And then a few second later, they'll run back, 'Oh my God! Dot!' It's awesome."
For more on Dot-Marie Jones's new look on Glee, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday.
And for more information about transgender issues, visit the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and PFLAG.