Butterfly Cauldron

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Transgender television


Here's my dirty secret: I love soap operas. I do. I know, I know. What's a smart, funny, feminist girl like me doing hooked on soap operas? What can I say, grad school rotted my brain. And my favorite soap is All My Children. So, when I heard they were introducting a transgender character? Ha! Well, let's just say it's become appointment television.

I'm a little concerned, of course, that the show is going to mess this up royally. But so far, it seems to be all right. It helps that they cast a wonderful actor, Jeffery Carlson, in the part. (Also? Check the photo. The man is yummy. And he wears fricking eyeliner on-screen. I had no chance. No chance at all.)

There are a few issues, I think. For one, he's falling in love with the show's sole lesbian character. Which is completely possible, because Eden Riegel? Also yummy. It does seem like a bit of a cop-out, though. Put the lesbian with the transgender guy, so we can have her with a guy who isn't really a guy but still has a penis. I don't know though. The story is still developing, so maybe they'll address these issues in a way that feels right, not forced. And there's not word yet if Zarf (horrible name for a character, but at least he's going to become Zoe, my absolute favorite name in the world) is going to have surgery or not. But it has the potential to be an interesting, edgy story, so I'm giving it a chance.

It does make me think, though. I have never, as far as I know, meet a transgender person. I have a friend who says she feels like she's supposed to be a man, but she's never made any moves in that direction. Which may still count, I don't know, but until she tells me she's claiming the label for herself, I don't feel comfortable assigning it to her. But still, I've been thinking lately -- I have absolutely zero problem with transgender people. Does that make me strange? Honestly, if I were dating someone and they told me they were transgender, I'm not sure it would bother me all that much. I'm sure there'd be issues. But would I dump them? For no other reason? That would be stupid. Beyond stupid, really. If I loved someone, I want them to be happy. If my boyfriend is desparately unhappy being a man, if he feels that he's really a woman, if he wants to dress as a woman, explore those feelings, why would I stand in his way? Why would I make it harder for her? It doesn't make any sense. And if that exploration lead her to believe surgery was the right option, well okay. First, its not my body, so I really have no say in what she does with it. But more importantly -- why would you want someone you love to be miserable just to conform to social expectations?

As far as sex goes? Well, I'm bi, so -- parts is parts, ya know? There would be issues with how other people reacted to us, how families reacted, but you're going to have those issues anyway. Well, maybe not those specific issues, but issues. No relationship is perfect and no family is perfect.

I realize this makes me sound hopelessly naive. And I probably am, but I'm also being sincere. I don't understand the transgender experience since I cannot imagine wanting to be anything other than a woman. I love it. I do, down to the very tippiest tip of my toes. I cannot imagine living with the knowledge that I was born wrong. I cannot imagine the amount of pain and confusion that must cause. But I can be empathetic. There's no reason for a person to have to live with that kind of pain, not when there are viable ways to avoid it. And there's no reason a person dealing with that pain should have to go without the same love and acceptance anyone else has. I truely cannot imagine rejecting someone I love because of the way they were born, because of a pain they have suffered. It's completely alien to me. Which means, yeah, I'm probably strange.
posted by Zan at 5:54 PM

10 Comments:

You're not strange. When you are on the side of love and caring, that's right. I don't care for the idea of acceptance, of how we have to accept people, because it supports the idea that we get to judge. We are "good" if we accept. I much prefer the idea of letting people be; I'm a jerk if I expect people to be the way they want.

I would care if my bf wanted to be a woman, but it would mean we weren't meant to be any longer or I would start to want him as a woman. But I wouldn't say he was hurting me or had deceived me, etc., and I wouldn't care if his family felt that way. Because you're right, it's hard and horrible to feel wrong, and I always take the side of the outsider, the underdog, the wallflower.

It would be naive to think the world will easily let this be because you do, but I do think that having a friend or mom who feels like we do helps, is a buffer from society or at least proof that not everyone's a Stepford asshole.

I am worried that it's AMC because they had Bianca raped, Frankie murdered, and Maggie beaten. I think Zoe (I love it, too!) will have the operation, though, that they're going to write out the story that far, and that's why Bianca's available. But Zarf is alien-sounding, and they did away with Erica's abortion.

3:04 PM  

Your new boyfriend reminds me of Martha Plimpton.

3:06 PM  

Doh! He does, doesn't he? I kept trying to figure out who he looked like.

Yeah, this whole 'unabortion' storyline makes me want to gag. I like Josh, but come on. They could have given Erica another kid by having him be Kendall's twin.

And I realize I'm not exactly normal, but I honestly think if I was in love with someone and they were having gender identity issues, it wouldn't scare me away. It comes down to why you love a person, really. Do you love someone merely for their body or does it go beyond that? I know not everyone would have that reaction and I know that for a lot of people, the romantic relationship would have to end. And I understand that, even if it's not something I could see doing personally. But then I'm a rather queer freak myself, so who knows?:)

I just would never want anyone I loved to feel that they were alone or unwanted. Probably beyond anything in this world, I want to protect the people who belong to me. I want to be that place where they can go, where they know they don't have to hide or pretend or be afraid, because there isn't anything they can do to make me stop caring.

5:04 PM  

Awwww, you are so sweet! Careful, or I'll melt.

I feel just the same as that last paragraph, but I find myself drawn to people - both as friends and crushes - who don't want me that way.

I so thought Josh would be Kendall's twin, and that would have been brilliant! Brilliant! I hate the idea that she would go back to Jeff just because Josh is theirs. I didn't watch back then, but SoapNet had the episode where she was hiding her birth control pills, and I was so cheering her on. But I do anyway, except when she was mean to sweet Bianca. And why can't they just let her be happy w/ handsome Jack? WHY?!

5:18 PM  

Well, I keep telling myself that there's someone out there for me. I just haven't happened to find 'em yet.

Yeah, seriously, it would have made perfect sense for Josh to be Kendall's twin. Erica had blocked out the birth in the first place, plus she was out when Kendall was born too. So...twins. Perfect.

And the whole 'breaking up Jack and Erica' is making me insane. Those two had a beautiful wedding and then...instant problems from day one. Bah. Stupid people. Why won't they let ME write a soap? Because there would be a hell of a lot more races and sexualities explored, I'll promise you. That's why I write 'em in my fiction :) Whoohoo.

And where the hell are the bisexual characters? Please! We do exist!!

8:16 PM  

I think of Frankie and Maggie as lesbians because the soaps (and their viewers) can barely handle "interracial"* relationships (um, aren't they all interracial?**), so I think bisexuality is too complex for them. That's another reason to have Zarf become Zoe. The way it is now, "he's" a lesbian! I'm sure some viewers' heads are spinning.

*The woman who plays Y&R's Olivia was surprised the hate mail for her affair w/ Brad was from fans angry about their cheating on cancer-battling Ashley, not racists.

**I had a college classmate who claimed his family "came over on the Mayflower and never intermarried with anyone," but even if true, that doesn't preclude the possibility of progency of other races.

I know what you really want is to write a role for yourself, so you can show us all how it's done. And audition hot plump Latinas and more eyelinered boys. Actually, that would make me return to soaps. And stay. ;)

8:27 PM  

I think of Maggie as bisexual, because that's the only way all her previous relationships make sense. And it's an insult to the genuine affection she felt for her male lovers to religate them to a phase or something. Frankie I think was a lesbian in deep, deep denial.

And yeah, MY soap would be populated by lots of diverse people. We'd have people of all skin-tones and backgrounds, we'd have gay and lesbian and bisexual and hell, some asexual people too. (Cause they exist too!) There'd be people of all shapes and sizes. Because that's what exists in reality.

Of course, the only network that would pick it up would be Bravo or Logo, so....or HBO. Hrm.

Now I'm gonna have to think about it. Damn you.

And yes, I want my own little collection of curvy Latinas and eyelined boys. Yes.

8:34 AM  

It is an honor to be damned by you. I don't have HBO, so...

I only saw Maggie w/ Jonathan. I don't like her because I adored Frankie. And while this normally wouldn't happen, I'm able to see them as entirely separate, to the extent that, even though it's the sae actress, it may as well be a different one. Poor awesome Frankie.

5:09 PM  

Oh, yeah. Johnathon was bad bad bad for her. I'm looking forward to see how he reacts when Mags comes back in Feb.

It's a testament to the actress that the two characters were so very different, you really believe they were different people.

5:44 PM  

Yummy.

7:08 PM  

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