After my thoughts yesterday it was interesting to find an article about transgendered individuals becoming more prominent in the mass media (Transgender Acceptance May Start with Reality TV). After reading it, one thing did kinda pop out: out of the individuals mentioned, only one was FTM and he wasn’t an actor or in a reality show (I’m referring to, of course, Thomas Beatie and his interview on Oprah). I was surprised at the fact that Jim Howley, who was one of the aspiring bachelor’s on TransAmerican Love Story or the character of Max from The L Word (also from LOGO). It’s interesting that when one says transgendered many people automatically believe MTF or think MTF. In fact, when I think of all the news stories most of the ones I’ve heard of. It made me ponder why all the examples were women and so few guys were mentioned. In fact, I couldn’t think of any other than the two mentioned above.
Part of it may be tied to the fact that there are more transwomen than transguys but I think that is starting to change. While transgenderism is still a relative small portion of society the split between transwomen versus transmen was huge (I think I remember hearing 9-to-1). Because of that, society has had more exposure to transwoman (or the misperception of drag women in the guise of drag queen, which may or may not be someone who is trans) than transguys. That is my theory.
K and I discussed it and she added in the idea that gender fluidity amongst female genders is more accepted than amongst masculine. Masculine genders, particularly in recent years, has heralded the strong, silent types as the leading male role. And a transguy will be viewed primarily as a woman by many. Granted the younger generation is more accepting, it seems, of gender fluidity for all individuals and perhaps it will become more acceptable. One can hope, eh, for the day that a transguy becomes a major lead character.
But I digress. The real question is this: based on what is on TV right now is it exploitative or exploration? Helping or hindering? I would love to say unequivacally that it’s helping but I know that reality has it otherwise. Certainly there is a portion that is helping: it’s showing that transwomen can be just as sexy, glamourous and good actors as anyone else. At the same time, however, I have no doubts that the directors of the shows are capitalisizing on the curiousity of the average citizen about transgenderism. There is also the stereotypical “freak” factor that society tags on to the average perception of what a transgendered person is. I wonder what they think when they learn they are normal people who lead lives similar to them with an added challange.
Right now, I’d say, for the most part, the use of transgendered individuals is still in the explorative stage for mainstream media. Certainly there is the exploitative portion to it (all mass media centers around that) but it seems to be done in a more subtle way, so as not to spook the Moral Majority and others who’d freak out about it. Although, I wouldn’t mind if Kirsten Vangsness (Garcia on Criminal Minds) exploited me for a few hours. 😉