Sunday, April 1, 2007

Obligatory Reference to Zoe Visiting a TG Support Group

I have a secret weakness for television dramas. The good ones are the ones where, like opera, both sides of the human soul are extracted and examined. Normally that means "good" and "bad" parts of the soul are given equal treatment. I loved Boys from the Blackstuff, anything with Helen Mirren, and even Yes! Prime Minister. The characters were multi-dimensional.

I've never been that big of a soap fan, though. Sure, the stories tend to expose the best and worst of the human condition, but they progress at a snail's pace, taking forever! And the characters tend towards two or even one dimensions. A guy who's bad is always bad. A woman who's evil is also vain, jealous, deceitful and treacherous. A woman who's good is supportive, truthful and "natural." Men are always "strong" and "quiet." They never discuss their feelings unless they first a) get angry or b) have been seriously hurt emotionally.

So that's why I was happy to see a glimmer of reality enter into the "Zarf / Zoe" story-arc in All My Children. If you haven't been following the story, it goes something like this... There's a guy named Zarf. He's a rock-star and not an especially "good" guy. He eventually stops repressing his female identity, changes his name to Zoe and turns good. I might normally point out that just because one recognizes themselves as being transgender, it doesn't automatically mean you're nice, honest, cheery and so forth. But the arc seems to be about transcendence and redemption, concepts that are close to my heart, so I'll just shut up about that now.

I found the following clip on YouTube! It shows Zoe in a TG (Transgender) support group. The hook here is that all the men and women in the support group are real transsexuals who are telling their own stories.

Growing up a girl in a boys body was confusing enough. And when I hit my teens the messages I got from the media (mostly from Jerry Springer) were that transsexuals were erotic-dancers or heart-breakers who picked up hetero men just to humiliate them publicly. I just wanted to drive the kids to school in the mini-van, dress nice for an occasional night on the town and have someone buy me chocolates and flowers. So it was hard to square my feelings about my identity with the messages I was getting from the media. It's good that this generation is seeing that we're people. We make breakfast, we fold laundry, go to work and try to get to the aerobics class on time.

So thank you, Ms. Carruthers. Thank you for treating us like people.

I'm familiar with the stories of two of the women in the room with Zoe, if you have information about more of them, please let me know:

Jennifer Finney Boylan

Jenny, who is the group facilitator in the clip, is the author of She's Not There : A Life in Two Genders. A memoir of her life and transition. Already an accomplished author before the publication of her memoir, she's the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Colby College.

Betty Crowl

Betty is the husband of Helen Boyd, the author of My Husband Betty and She's Not the Man I Married. Both these books deal with their relationship and the effect of transition on spouses. Cool stuff.

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