Featured Post

Thursday, 17 November 2011

My Transsexual Summer: why has it taken so long?

Channel 4 really outdoes itself in bringing the very first reality series charting the experiences of transgendered men and women to the screen.

After Fatima Whitbread trended on Twitter due to her entry into the Australian jungle for 'I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here' and sparked some horrendous, transphobic comments, it's great to see something positive covering this oft misunderstood community.

Image credit: Channel 4
Fox, Sarah, Drew, Lewis, Donna, Max and Karen (L-R) are all at various stages of transition from their biological genders to the gender they feel suited to. Channel 4 does its best to show what it's like to feel you're in the wrong body and charts their highs and lows - from conversations about hormone treatment and surgery to the nastiness they encounter on the high street and, in Drew's case, finding a job.

Today the Daily Mail published a story about Danann Tyler. Born into a male physique, Danann wants to live as a female. She's eight years old and from Orange County, California. The article certainly attracts a few transphobic comments; "At that age, kids should not be taken seriously about their genders", writes JJ. One commenter, not brave enough to assign a name, states "no child needs this press coverage about something that is still essentially taboo in our society". And that is the real crux of the matter.

Exploding taboos is something Channel 4 does very well. This illuminating and sensitive documentary series does its best to portray trans men and women as normal people- something everyone should be considered, whoever they are. We live in a world where people feel it's acceptable to sexually harrass transgender men and women, shout at them in the street and even assault or kill them.

We also live in a society where the media feel it's acceptable to portray transsexuality as taboo and disgusting, meaning that they are dehumanised and made to feel social outsiders.

Trans Media Watch's April 2010 report 'How transgender people experience the Media', co-authored by Jennie Kermode, showed how cultural and popular representations of trans men and women, like Little Britain's Emily Howard and the League of Gentleman's Barbara have harmful effects that go beyond the general public: they affect the views and behaviour of the friends and family of transsexual people too.

Some may find it hard to conjure up a view of a transsexual person without, incorrectly, thinking of Dame Edna Everage, Eddie Izzard or Lilly Savage (respectively transvestites and a drag queen), Emily Howard, or Barbara. There aren't a lot on television either, points out Paris Lees, appearing on the BBC World Service radio programme (starts at 20:21).  Paris is an activist and served as a consultant on the show (you can watch her 4thought.tv piece here).

This lack of representation on television (with the notable exception of Julie Hesmondhalgh - Coronation St's Hayley- who became a Trans Media Watch 'friend' as of March this year) is something Paris hopes will change. Indeed, My Transsexual Summer is already helping with the focus not on just the transition, but on the before and after - just like in the gay community where the focus has moved from 'coming out' to living life, regardless of sexuality; just getting on with the trivial aspects of life, from the highs and lows to the mundane arguments about whose turn it is to buy milk this week.

Corrie's Hayley Cropper
Coronation Street was arguably the first to do this with Hayley, whose transition from a biological male to a happy female, now in a committed and loving relationship with Roy, is now barely referred to, as many happy transsexual men and women would strive for.

For me, the most shocking aspect of the show was not the look at a newly constructed penis on a female to male transgender person, but the reaction of two women interviewing Drew for a potential role at a bridal wear shop. Drew 'came out' to the shop owners. The owner was surprised by Drew's admission of being transgender, drawing shock from the owner's sister who promptly pointed out Drew's Adam's Apple, stating that she knew Drew was transgender from the start. But the offensive nature of the comments didn't stop and the owners were reticent about offering Drew a position, citing that their customers may be uncomfortable with Drew. After all, claimed the owner, "every little girl's dream is to have this fairytale wedding and there isn't any books that have transgender fairytales in" [sic].

I'm no expert in the Gender Discrimination nor the Equality Act, but I'm sure that they're sailing close to the wind in this case. Putting the obvious transphobia (that they assign, erroneously, to their customers) aside, I wonder if they'd have the same problem employing a man in the role? Binary gender rules win the day, in this case.

Treating transsexual people as anything other than human is something that's pervasive enough to affect the transgender community itself, a feeling examplified by Drew, previously too scared to leave the house, saying "I feel like I'm a person like everyone else". It was also borne out by Sarah's concern that she'd be cut off by her family once she told them she identified with being female. A concern that, thankfully, wasn't fulfilled. Her mother's only concern was that Sarah wasn't a pretty enough name.

Next Episode: Tue 22 Nov, 10pm on Channel 4

Drew on Twitter | Donna on Twitter | Lewis on Twitter | Karen on Twitter | Sarah on Twitter | Fox on Twitter| Max on Twitter

More information:
Press for Change -seeking respect and equality for Trans people
Sarah's Blog
Trans Media Watch on Twitter
Juliet Jacques on her transgender journey
Channel 4's guide to terminology
Paris Lees interviews Drew-Ashlyn Cunningham
A blogger's take on the employment law in Drew's case in the bridal wear shop

Posted by Tannice for The Custard TV. Follow Tannice on Twitter.

7 comments:

Faithless Eye said...

Good to see a bit more exposure for the plight of transgender people but there's such a long way to go.
Even watching last week's QI I was properly disheartened to see them all laughing at the Indian transgender tax-collectors. The joke seemed to be something along the lines of "Haha, men in dresses, look, this is funny! Can you imagine?" accompanied by raised eyebrows and Oooohs.
QI is a supposedly high-brow, liberal show.

chenlina said...

chenlina20160218
michael kors outlet
michael kors outlet online
nike air max
coach outlet
oakley sunglasses
kobe 10
cheap ugg boots
chanel bags
cheap nfl jerseys
nba jerseys
canada goose outlet
ugg boots
ralph lauren uk
michael kors outlet online
cheap ray ban sunglasses
tory burch outlet online
oakley vault
mont blanc legend
toms outlet
jordan 11 concord
hollister outlet
gucci shoes
louis vuitton handbags
polo ralph lauren
coach factory outlet
michael kors outlet online
louis vuitton handbags
toms shoes
ugg boots sale
oakley sunglasses
abercrombie outlet
replica watches
coach outlet store online
louis vuitton outlet
the north face
cheap oakley sunglasses
ralph lauren outlet
canada goose coats
celine handbags
abercrombie and fitch
as

Hua Cai said...

true religion outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
ugg boots
louis vuitton handbags
hollister canada
michael kors handbags clearance
coach outlet
michael kors online outlet
oakley sunglasses
kobe 9 elite
tiffany jewellery
louis vuitton outlet
ray ban sunglasses
ugg boots
soccer jerseys wholesale
christian louboutin outlet
longchamp outlet
toms outlet
louis vuitton pas cher
herve leger outlet
fitflops sale
longchamp outlet
ray-ban sunglasses
michael kors outlet
ray ban sunglasses
cheap canada goose jackets
abercrombie and fitch
cheap football shirts
nfl jersey wholesale
celine outlet
longchamp solde
ugg boots clearance
supra shoes sale
oakley sunglasses uk
louis vuitton handbags
20160810caihuali

Fangyaya said...

the north face outlet
cheap jordan shoes
louboutin shoes
louis vuitton outlet
cheap rolex watches
adidas nmd shoes
ray ban sunglasses
moncler jackets
cheap toms shoes
ralph lauren
fitflop shoes
ray bans
uggs outlet
louis vuitton handbags
canada goose jackets
uggs on sale
ugg outlet
ray ban sunglasses
mont blanc ballpoint pens
nike outlet
prada outlet
louis vuitton handbags
nike roshe run
coach outlet
louis vuitton
mont blanc pens
ugg boots uk
louis vuitton handbags
replica rolex watches
chenyingying2016810

caiyan said...

rolex watches
moncler outlet
coach outlet
rolex watches uk
ralph lauren outlet
polo outlet
cheap jordans
birkenstock sandals
supra for sale
borse gucci
20161027caiyan

Meiqing Xu said...

cheap jordans
michael kors outlet store
cheap uggs
adidas yeezy boost
abercrombie and fitch
cheap oakley sunglasses
oakley sunglasses
pandora charms
michael kors outlet
adidas stan smith
20170106caiyan

Hua Cai said...

tiffany jewelry
coach outlet store
michael kors
christian louboutin outlet
michael kors handbags
pandora jewellery
cheap oakley sunglasses
ralph lauren outlet
nfl jerseys wholesale
lebron shoes
20170109caihuali

Recent Posts 2

Popular Posts Logo

Popular Posts

Popular Posts