Friday, 24 February 2012

Coming next week, another TV documentary: My Dad is a Woman

This the documentary in which I could have made a brief personal appearance, and I will be watching it with an eagle eye just in case I am still there on the periphery as a fleetingly-seen but unnamed hospital visitor, or heard as a muffled voice off. I don't remember saying anything more profound than what a different business peeing is when post-op. Since then, it's been my understanding that these noble words have been relegated to the cutting-room floor. Just as well. After all, the focus was on a couple called Jane and Andrea, fellow bloggers both; and their children, of whom I met two.

I think originally this Wild Pictures production had intended to cover three families caught up in transition. But with only an hour in which to tell the tale with any subtlety, they trimmed it to two. I don't know the other family at all.

It's being screened at 10.35pm on Thursday 1 March on ITV1. It's not part of a series, it's a one-off. And rather late in the evening, so I'm expecting operating-theatre scenes of a considerably more lurid character than the ones shown in last year's My Transsexual Summer, although those seemed visceral enough. Scenes you can watch in High Definition, if you have it.

I'm hoping that this latest version of the Trans Story - as it especially affects families with children - will be told with nuances aplenty, and will add something solid to the steadily-emerging Real View of what trans people are all about. I'm hoping it will be frank about the problems and stresses that families need to cope with, and I want to see acceptance, gritty loyalty, and heroic endurance in all family members. I'd like families who are not affected by a member undergoing transition to appreciate how well-off they are, in so far as they are not going to have their lives turned inside out by this process. But at the same time, to see that it's not a disgrace, not a disaster, just someone discovering their true self and needing the family to cluster round. And that it can be coped with, successfully, and then clearly turn out for the best. Well, that's how I'd like it to be.

This is the main blurb in the Radio Times: 'The stories of two men undergoing sex changes and the impact on their families as they go through surgery, feminising speech therapy and other procedures.' A note elsewhere says: 'The footage of surgery is not fun to watch, but the rest of this thoughtful documentary is illuminating.' Well, purists will take issue with the use of convenient phrases like 'two men' and 'sex changes', but I suppose the blurb does skilfully compress the storyline into a tweet, or nearly so, if that's a good thing.

I wonder if this will be the last of the current crop of trans documentaries? It's not in the important and coveted mid-evening slot, even though family children could presumably get a lot out of it. But then it would displace Emmerdale and Corrie. Tsk. Can't have that.


  1. I have conflicting thoughts on this type of program in that on the one hand they can give people a real insight to what transsexualism is all about if they are presented without prejudice or bias and only present the facts but on the other hand I sometimes feel anonimity is the better option. I think education is a good idea but not necessarily in this manner. I most probably will watch them but I may decide to switch off if I think it is too much, after all I've been there and already know the basics.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  2. One often wonders how much the presence of a documentary team distorts whatever they might be trying to accurately reflect. I was also in contact with Wild Pictures for some while last year but could not follow it through. The family stresses I was having then, and continue to have, though in changed ways, would have been made even more difficult to progress with the camera's intrusion. I'd like to encourage my children to look in on those who did open their families to this process but I'll view the programme first to see how much risk that will run.


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