By Alex Temblador
Transgender characters on television isn’t particularly new. TransGeneration, The Real World, America’s Next Top Model, and Orange is the New Black are all television shows that featured transgender characters or transgender participants on reality shows. However, a new TV series has arrived on ABC Family that is a little different from the rest. Becoming Us premiered last night, June 8, with its first episode, #WelcomeToMyWorld. This docu-series focuses beyond the transition aspect of transgender persons; this series highlights transgender families.
Although the world has been aware of the transgender community, there hasn’t been as much talk about the transgender community as there has been in the last few months due in part to Caitlyn Jenner’s transgender announcement and transition. Caitlyn Jenner herself is filming a docu-series, I Am Cait, about her transition to her true identity. However, Becoming Us is different in that this docu-series focuses mostly on the family rather than mostly on the transgender person.
Becoming Us features Carly, a transgender woman, formerly known as Charlie, and son, Ben, a high school senior. Carly’s ex-wife Suzy and her daughter from a previous marriage, Sutton, are also a part of the series. The show also includes Danielle, Ben’s girlfriend, whose father is also transgender.
This docu-series closely concentrates on the experience of children in trans families by examining Ben’s feelings in regard to Carly. The idea for the show came from Ben and Suzy who thought it would be a great “platform for kids that have family members that are trans,” a factor that seems most relevant to the fact that it is on ABC Family, a kid and family-oriented channel with a history of shows that feature the LGBT community, like The Fosters and Pretty Little Liars.
Similarly, this show has the potential to educate and inform its viewers on a variety of aspects of what it means to be transgender. It will show that transgender persons are no different from other people and as Carly put it, it will show that trans persons are “normal people. We’re not freaks, not to be laughed at, pointed at, stared at.” More importantly it could “be of service to [the trans] community and people who have children or parents that are transitioning.”
Additionally, Becoming Us shows that even though the family is transitioning with the transition of Carly’s gender identity, Carly and Suzy’s main concerns are for their son, Ben. Carly stated, “Just because I’m transitioning my gender to a woman doesn’t mean I’m transitioning my responsibilities as a parent.” Suzy agrees when she said that, “[Carly and I] both adore and love Benjamin so much and we will work out whatever we need to work to make sure it works for him.” By showing that parenting is the most important factor in Carly and Suzy’s lives, audiences see that this trans family is no different from any other family that have gone through ups and downs.
Even if your family isn’t part of the transgender community, Becoming Us will teach you an important life lesson: all families transition over time, but we transition together and we transition with love.