Monday, September 29, 2008

Transgender Exposure on TV Rising

Having established homosexual representation on TV, sexual revolutionaries' efforts turn to transsexuals.

-- From "Transgender Contestant a First on ‘America’s Next Top Model’" by Gillian Gaynair, Associated Press, 9/23/08

As a little boy in the Washington suburbs, Darrell Walls liked to pretend to be Lil' Kim or a Pink Power Ranger.

He felt different - like a girl mistakenly born a boy.

But Walls eventually embraced that difference and today is living true, as Isis King. Now 22, King is the first transgender contestant on "America's Next Top Model," the CW Television Network reality show hosted by super model Tyra Banks.

"I'm just trying to be myself," King said during a telephone interview last week. "If I inspire people, that's a wonderful thing - whether you're trans or not."

While the number of transgender representations on television remains small, activists say in recent years they have seen a movement away from stereotypical roles such as transgender sex workers or villains. Now, the roles are not as marginalized - and some are even portrayed by transgender actors.

"When audiences see real gay and transgender people facing many of the same ups and downs as everybody else, it helps to change perceptions and break down stereotypes," Neil G. Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said in an e-mail. "The casting of Isis on such a popular show offers a groundbreaking opportunity for a community that is historically underrepresented on television."

Viewers are also getting glimpses of how she's transitioning from man to woman. A recent episode, for example, shows her injecting female hormones. King began the treatments last year and wants to have the expensive surgery - not undertaken by all transgender people - by her 25th birthday.

The entire article is a MUST READ.