10 April 2008

Transamerican Love Story: Some Thoughts

To avoid being burned out, I am purposely taking my time watching the episodes. So far, out of the six existing episodes, I've watched the first three. (There is a seventh episode, but it's a recap. The eighth, the finale, airs on the 14th.)

What's drawing me into this show is that it's unlike any transgender-themed television programming I've ever seen. In the past, transgender-themed television programs consisted of either accurate and depressing documentaries (given the hard lives most transpeople live), or inaccurate/even offensive portrayals (There's Something About Miriam, two occasions of Ally McBeal, countless more). But Transamerican Love Story is accurate AND fun.

I've never felt this uplifting around transpeople before; I myself, until now, dreaded hanging out with transgender groups, because the mood would turn all depressing, fast. That's not the case here. Calpernia and Andrea are successful, fun, beautiful women. Most of the men vying for Calpernia are mostly very ordinary, normal men, with a few personality flaws here and there but definitely good men. The men even include a transman, Jim, who is just as ordinary and cool as any other man in the bunch. Speaking of transmen, another transman makes an appearance in Episode 3, as a macho, mean drill sergeant with real Air Force experience, adding another dimension to the trans experience (though Calpernia also did Navy duty herself). Maybe the only exception to the rule is one of the suitors, Blaine, who admitted to running a transgender porn site, and was the first to be eliminated; now, that's a total creep.

But all put together, this series is very uplifting and cheerful yet sensitive and accurate, something no previous trans television show could claim. I am having fun discussing the show on Facebook, and getting to know the people involved - not only other fans, but Calpernia, Andrea, and Jim themselves as well. The people seem to be genuinely enjoying this show.

Which brings it back to me. Now that Transamerican Love Story has reached out and touched me, I need to return the favor to the trans community, in the form of Perfect Girl, which I hope will have a similar effect. Sure, Sarah will have her depressing moments and her hardships, but the goal is to show that transpeople can live ordinary lives - a flight attendant, in Sarah's case (if being a flight attendant can be called ordinary!), married to the woman of her dreams. The key will be not to make things TOO ordinary - it'd be boring!

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