Cleaning up from yesterday’s internet meltdown has meant that I’ve not had the chance to write about this at length, but last night I went to a preview of the first episode of Channel 4′s new documentary, “My Transsexual Summer“, which airs tonight (Tuesday 8th November) at 10pm.
First off, it’s not perfect. But then, nothing ever will be – we can be an argumentative community at the best of times and even if this was produced by Trans folk, either everyone would still object or it would be terribly, terribly dull. (Follow my life with a camera and unless I happened to be on holiday, you’d mostly just get shots of me sitting in meeting rooms and typing on computers – not exactly blockbuster stuff.)
And some of the language used in voice overs at the start is a bit cringeworthy for anyone involved in the community, but the producer was quick to put his hands up to that one. He admitted that it changed over the course of the series and if he’d redone it from the start, different wording would have been used.
But in a way, that helps the programme as even from just one episode it felt as if it was telling the story of a journey, rather than a lecture or just a snapshot of someone’s life.
Notably, the cast – four trans women and, unusually, three trans men – did have a big say in how they were portrayed at their “summer retreat” house, enough that they got to veto many proposed titles and Max stood up and spoke in defense of the title they finally picked -before the producers could say much – when someone asked a question on it. Perhaps it was having the cast sitting at the back giggling and groaning along to various parts, but it felt positive. I identified (As a trans person) very quickly with the cast and many parts reminded of many past conversations I’ve had within the community… yes, right up to using the word “Tranny” to describe oneself to others within the community.
I’ve no doubt someone is going to complain about that at least, and perhaps the overuse of makeup at the start and lots of other things. But having seen it and having chatted to many of those in it and having had the chance to talk over the challenges faced by the producers and those that worked on it, I’m inclined to be very defensive if someone does take exception to it.
I felt that it’s more than just a step in the right direction, it’s a programme that pretty accurately reflected how many trans people carry on with each other in private. And we’re not all perfect paragons of Political Correctness, and we don’t all take ourselves that seriously.
One warning: There is a rather graphic part in the first episode where they show one of the transwomen being operated on. Yes, it’s that operation and it was certainly possible to get a good idea of who in the audience was either a cis male or pre-op transwoman from who was squirming and looking uncomfortable.