In my media watch project I decided to look at the representations of transgender people in reality TV. I wanted to see what types of representations there were and how much we are actually informed about them as people. During my research and asking around to see what people had seen the one person that kept coming to peoples minds was Rupaul. This made me a little angry as Rupaul isn’t about transgender people its about drag queens. When I informed people of this they all generally said the same thing. “Isn’t it the same thing?” Well read this and find out that it isn’t.
I found that there were very few representations of trans people in reality television and only one of the representations was about the transition for a female to a male. This goes hand in hand with the fact that we don’t ever see an accurate portrayal of butch lesbians in the media, but that’s a whole other can of worms.
The Real World Brooklyn housed the first every transgender on the show. Her name was Kaitlyn and she was the token odd ball for that particular season. When watching the beginning of the show you find that a few of the roommates have questions about her and instead of addressing them they talk in secret about what she is as if she is a freak or non-human being. The representation that transgender people are weird or freaks is something that I found to be very common amongst the reality TV shows. As the show progressed on you found that she has had her transition surgeries and is a full woman and legally so as well. I thought that show did do a decent job of showing that she is just another girl but it took them awhile to ease off the freak factor.
MTV’s True Life did an episode based on sex changes. This show did, in my eyes, a fantastic job of giving the audience a glimpse of what its like for transgender people to go through the physical transformation and the emotional toll it takes on them and their families. This show also shed light on the transformation of a female to a male and how his family struggles to understand why he feels the need to have his breast removed. It heart wrenching to see how badly Ted feels that he doesn’t fit in with society. It almost tares his family apart. Elle is a male transitioning into a female and you are with her the entire way through her transformation. Its crazy to see how much struggle they go through just to be who they are.
Check out the episode: http://www.mtv.com/videos/true-life-im-changing-my-sex/1631489/playlist.jhtml