4 Hollywood Series That Misrepresented Trans People

Media's representation of Trans people can be both reflective of and influential on society’s perceptions of the transgender lives!

Media does not affect people in the way they think or act but affects their behaviour both positively and negatively. The media’s representation can also be reflective of and influential on society’s perceptions of these groups. The way transgender people are represented in the media is misinterpreted, and they face a lot of disadvantages in society.

Their characters in the media like in movies, television shows, and news are represented in a joking manner and their struggles and issues are highlighted giving a negative concept of what it means when a person is transgender.

Movies and television shows have an inadequate history when they represent gender diversity.

A joke is not a joke when you punch down

The transgender community face problems like discrimination from society because of the way they are portrayed in the media. People constantly make jokes without even thinking like, “Hey, this woman thinks she’s a man. Isn’t that hilarious?”

These jokes can lead to many disadvantages for that person, they may end up committing suicide or killing themselves. The media has to be more careful while portraying genders.

Television shows are one of the most common forms of media. Shows like Friends, Grey’s Anatomy, Glee and The Fosters. They have portrayed transgender negatively and these are examples which show us.

FRIENDS (1994-2004)

It is the 1990s show which is a popular series till now. There are 6 characters in the show and one of the characters or one of the friends is Chandler Bing, where he states that his childhood was bad because his parents divorced when he was young and one parent is a transgender woman.

His trans parent’s relationship with the houseboy and their gender are what caused a gap between him and the trans parent. There are a series of Chandler talking about his father wearing dresses.

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They portray Chandler’s parent as a joke rather than equal characters like the rest of them. The way Helena (Chandler’s trans parent) was treated was disrespectful and shows how they do not have a good knowledge of gender identity.

Helena was not treated like an equal character, but rather as a joke. There were a few jokes like when Chandler invites Helena to his wedding he would say, “Is it him or her” jokes. They also refer to her too masculine pronouns like he, him, and his.

The writers could have treated this as a positive plot and taken the advantage of promoting the transgender positively or support for them, but rather all they did was make fun of her gender and identity.

Grey’s Anatomy (TV, 2015)

It is based on a medical drama and the main character is Meredith Grey and the daughter of the best surgeon of Dr Ellis Grey. Rosalyn Warren is one of the main characters and is a transgender woman. She faces a lot of problems because of her gender.

They have portrayed her as a victim, where they focus more on the challenges that she goes through for being a transgender person. They could have portrayed her as a strong character instead like a victim that has committed a crime.

Glee (TV, 2009-2015)

It is an American musical drama where it focuses on a high school show choir, also known as the glee club. One of the major characters is a transgender woman named Adam. She joins William McKinley High School and takes part in the Glee Club team.

Her friends support her for who she is, but her transition was not accepted by her school, as they refuse her to use the girl’s washroom. This shows that she had to face a lot of challenges based on her identity.

The Fosters (TV, 2014-2018)

It is an American family drama about how a multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms. Cole is a transgender male youth who lives in a group home for a juvenile. He faces a lot of hardships in finding support within the state institutions. He tells us that, transgender males go through a lot of struggles like, when people use incorrect pronouns.

Transgender characters often face discrimination. For example, the way they are portrayed in these television shows can discourage them, and they would fear revealing their identity. The media is wrong in its portrayal of transgender characters.

Why can’t trans people be shown as regular human beings?

They are used as comedy props and made fun of by their gender identities. Instead of that, why can’t they portray them as strong and ordinary human beings?

Why are they not portrayed as equal characters to the others? They are human beings, too, right? They are not some aliens to be treated differently.

Image source: Juyan Moyano, free and edited on CanvaPro

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