Transexuals on TV and in the Movies
(continued from page 1)
HBO broadcasts the Sundance award-winning
documentary "Southern Comfort" (2001). Its central character was a
female-to-male transsexual named Robert Eads who is both dying and falling in
love at the same time. Critics hailed the film for its sympathetic look at the
world of transexuality. The film also spotlighted the prejudices of the American
Health system that refused to treat Eads' illness (ovarian cancer) because he
was a transexual.
The A&E channel aired "Transgender Revolution" (2001) as part of their
Investigative reports series. It featured a female-to-male transsexual who works
for the Tampa sheriff's office, a male-to-female electrical designer who hosted
an MIT radio show called Gendertalk, and a Southern good-old-boy who we follow
through his surgical transformation. The special also discusses elements of the
Hates Cirme Acts in relations to transexual killings and an interview with the
founder of the GenderPAC, a transsexual advocacy organization.
The CBS drama THE EDUCATON OF MAX BICKFORD (2001-2002) featured Helen Shaver as
a transexual college professor who revealed to his best friend, history teacher
Max Bickford (Richard Dreyfus) that he had a sex change operation and was now
known as Erica Bettis. Adjusting to the news, Max struggled to accept his former
guy pal turned beautiful babe.
HBO's movie "Normal" (2003) followed a fifty-something factory worker from a
little Illinois town who announced that he was undergoing surgery to become a
woman. The film was written and directed by Jane Anderson (an adaptation of her
play, "Looking for Normal") and starred Tom Wilkinson as Roy Applewood. Jessica
Lange costars as Roy's wife, Irma who struggles to deal with her husband's
Showtime's "Soldier's Girl" (2003) revealed the true tale of how a GI was beaten
to death in 1999 by other soldiers who were enraged by his relationship with
Calpernia Addams, (a.k.a. Scottie) a transsexual nightclub performer. The movie
tagline read: "She was the only man he ever loved."
Lee Pace stars in
'Soldier's Girl' on Showtime
- A&E's two-hour program "Role Reversal" (2003) followed two men and two women
(coached by a team of gender experts) who volunteered to live in a New York
apartment as members of the opposite sex for one month.
- "Changing Sexes: Female To Male 2003" a documentary film produced by Film Garden
Entertainment in 2003 and broadcast on the Discovery Channel in 2003 and 2004.
The program follows the story of four women who have become, or are currently
transitioning to, men including Jamison, who has been a man for 12 years;
Rachael, just beginning her transition and still living as a woman; Dirk, who
started life as Emily, and now lives in a small town in the Midwest where he
fears for his safety for those who don't understand his lifestyle, and Scott
(formerly Caroline) who talks about her female-to-male surgery and the creation
of an artificial phallus.
- FIND ME A MAN six-episode series from Britain aired November 15, 2003 on Sky One
network. This controversial series featured seven "lively and outgoing" young
men competing for the affections of a lady whom, unbeknownst to them, is
actually a man. Prior to the show, all seven of the contestants were asked to
select the woman they found most attractive from a lineup. Unawares, they chose
Miriam, a pre-op transexual.
- In 2004, the FOX network series NIP/TUCK featured Dutch-born model/actress Famke
Janssen in the recurring role of Ava Moore, a predatory male-to-female
transexual life-coach who seduces just about everybody on the show. After doing
her worst, Ava is banished from town. In her final scene, Ava walks through the
airport dressed like Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" with a big hat
The Fox Reality cable channel aired a 2004
imported BBC series THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT
MIRIAM, that featured a group of men who
compete for the affections of a Mexican woman
who is in reality a transexual.
- The Showtime channel aired "The Opposite Sex: Rene's Story" in May/June 2004
which explored the life a Rene, a 31 year old female-to-male transexual who
married high-school sweetheart, Wona, a heterosexual woman. However tragedy
stuck when their happy life was disrupted after someone from their local church
"outed" their well-kept secret. The movie also discussed an experimental
procedure which Rene hoped would make her a fully-functioning biological male.
- On March 15, 2005 the fictional gay schoolteacher, Mr. Herbert Garrison (voiced
by Trey Parker) on the Comedy Channel series SOUTH PARK underwent sex
reassignment surgery (vaginoplasty) and became a woman. The episode was entitled
"Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina". Upon seeing Mr. Garrison's transformation,
Garrison's gay male lover Mr. Slave shouted "But I'm gay, I don't like vaginas."
Garrison responds, "All you have to do is stop being gay." Frustrated, Mr. Slave
leaves and Garrison shouts, "You're just gonna walk out? You men are all alike!
Go ahead and find somebody who doesn't have a vagina, you fag!" When Garrison
tries to reverse the operation (and finds out he can't) he says "I'd rather be a
woman who can't have periods than a fag. Hey guys! This girl is staying a woman!
Who wants to pound my vag? Girl power!". On the 1998 SOUTH PARK episode "Cartman's
Mother is Still a Dirty Slut," Dr. Mephisto reveals that Cartman's father was in
reality (drum roll, please)...his mother, Liane Cartman. Confused? Well, turns
out that Liane was a hermaphrodite and since hermaphrodites cannot bear children
Cartman's mother got another woman pregnant at the drunken barn dance.
- During a summer 2005 episode of the SCI-FI Channel cartoon TRIPPING THE RIFT
(Called "SOUTH PARK in space" by TV Guide), an apparently female character drops
her dress to reveal a very hairy back. Suddenly, we hear the cry, "She's got a
Weenie!" Oh, how the times they are a changing.
- In November of 2006, the long-running ABC daytime soap opera ALL MY CHILDREN
cast the first regularly recurring trans-gendered character (changing from man
to a woman) on daytime TV. The character Zarf (played by Jeffrey Carlson) is a
flamboyant male Rock star with a British accent who one day kisses a lesbian
character named Bianca. Suddenly, he gets "special" feelings for her and decides
to switch genders for the benefit of a potential relationship. Zarf was born
2007-2008, a number of networks featured
storylines that features transexual
characters. On the NBC series UGLY BETTY,
Alex, the long-lost brother of Mode
magazine editor-in-chief Daniel Mead, returned
as Alexis (played by Rebecca Romijn). On ABC's
DIRTY SEXY MONEY, William Baldwin's Patrick
Darling, a married New York state attorney
general running for U.S. Senate has an illicit
affair with a sultry blond transexual
named Carmelita (played by Candis Cayne). The
character is TV's first recurring transsexual
character who actually is played by a
transsexual. An other transexual storyline
appearedon the ABC series BIG SHOTS in which
divorced cosmetics CEO Duncan Collinsworth
(Dylan McDermott) has an ill-advised liaison
with a transsexual prostitute at a rest stop.
TRIVIA NOTE: Probably the most famous transgendered person in the news was an
ex-GI named George Jorgensen, Jr. (1926-89) who returned from a Copenhagen
clinic as Christine and first brought transexualism to public light. A 1952 NY
Times headline proclaimed "Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Bombshell."
Christine soon became the unofficial spokesperson for the trans-gendered crowd
and frequented college campuses and other speaking engagements to explain her
lifestyle. Once, during a visit to THE DICK CAVETT SHOW, host Cavett
inadvertently insulted Christine by asking about her romantic life and she
quickly walked off the show.
Christine chronicled her life and struggles in her 1967 book, “Christine
Jorgensen: A Personal Autobiography" (which became the 1970 film
Christine Jorgenson Story").
Never married (although engaged twice), Christine died of bladder and lung
cancer at the age of 62 on May 3, 1989 at her home in San Clemente, California.
''Being a man or being a woman has nothing to do
genitalia. It's what's in your mind or in your
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