New documentary series to transform transgender preconceptions
Channel 4 Commissioning Editor Mark Raphael has commissioned Twenty Twenty Television to make a four-part observational documentary series following a group of trans people on the ultimate journey to realising their true identities - as they change gender.
Transitioning can be a lonely, alienating process, but in Girls will be Boys and Boys will be Girls (w/t) these seven people have come together to form a self-help group who meet to give each other help and advice - away from a world that can be prejudiced and abusive. Staying regularly at a rural retreat, they are free to be themselves - sharing stories, jokes and their hopes and fears about the decision they have made.
Ranging from their early 20s to 50s, the group are all at different stages of their own transitions and are each contemplating the next critical step in their journeys. Sarah (29) wants the courage to tell her parents she wants to live life as a woman, ex-police officer Karen (52) is about to achieve her childhood dream of having gender confirmation surgery, Donna (24) is lonely and simply wants to find a life-partner who will accept her as she is, while Drew (23) just wants to find a regular job where she does not stand out as a trans-woman.
Aside from featuring their everyday lives, in this series they come together for regular weekends, or retreats' where they can discuss the panoply of surgeries available, talk about how hormones affect their moods, and seek the critical advice they need to navigate the challenges of being trans'. Their mutual support is also highly practical - they go out in groups clubbing and shopping and the experienced members give real-world advice on how to pass' in the world and deal with unwanted attention and aggression. They also learn more about the surgical options available to trans people who want it - meeting people who've undergone genital, facial and chest surgery.
In this way, the group is reflecting the burgeoning on-line communities where hundreds of transgender people come together to chronicle their stories and seek advice. Some have the life experience and knowledge to help those wanting to follow in their footsteps; others take enormous comfort in the support of their peers.
Mark Raphael says: "Despite being protected by law, trans people are amongst the most marginalised and discriminated against in Britain today and they are three times more likely to be attacked than homosexual men or women. All seven contributors have experienced trans phobia, they wanted to take part in this series to promote greater understanding and acceptance for trans people in Britain. On a personal level they have already got a great deal out of the process, finding support and understanding and making long-lasting friendships."
Executive Producer Meredith Chambers says: "It has been a privilege to share the lives of seven trans people this summer. The series will be inspirational and full of life and laughter. There's so much to learn about the journey that someone goes on when they change their gender and we hope viewers will be moved, informed and encouraged to think differently by the series."
This 4 x 60 minute series will tx in Autumn; Sam Whittaker and Meredith Chambers are the executive producers.