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T.V. shows take on transgender issues

By Brian Passeri
On April 13, 2014

The Rainbow Center hosted a screening of two television shows tackling transgender issues on Saturday.
The first was an episode of a documentary mini-series "TransGeneration," which follows the lives of four transgender college students and their attempts to adapt to college life. The series won the 2006 GLADD media award for Outstanding Documentary.
Gabbie, a male to female transsexual, attends the University of Colorado and volunteers her time to LGBT activities on campus. She comes from a relatively wealthy family who has agreed to pay for her hormone injections, which are expensive and not covered by insurance.
Raci, another trans-female, is not as fortunate. In this episode Raci has been taking hormone injections for three months and expresses her delight with the results. However, she is forced to buy hormones on the black market, where they are one-fifth of the cost, and has her aunt do her injections.
T.J., a female to male transsexual, is a graduate student at Michigan State University. Unlike the other students, T.J.'s family is very unreceptive to his transition and he must grapple with this in addition to his workload.
Lucas, another trans-male, has a constructive dialogue with his mother. In the episode, she explains the ways in which she has begun to understand and cope with Lucas' transition and has finally come to accept her son as male. She says the experience "shakes you to the core of what you know about yourself, your children and the world at large."
The second episode was focused on Laverne Cox's character Sophia Burset in the Netflix original series "Orange Is the New Black." Burset is in prison for credit card fraud, which she committed in order to finance her operation and hormone therapy. During flashbacks, it is revealed that her wife and son have had trouble coping with the transition. Due to budget cuts, the prison reduces Burset's estrogen dosage. She asks her wife to smuggle pills into prison for her, but her wife refuses. Burset believes the reduction to be a violation of her rights and asks to go to a clinic. The prison counselor tells her that this can only be done in an emergency, to which Burset responds by swallowing the head of a bobblehead dog and saying, "I'd like to report an emergency."
Cox, as well as being an actress, is a transgender advocate. The success of "Orange Is the New Black" has allowed her a platform from which to speak on behalf of trans-people. As a transgender woman and a woman of color, Cox's groundbreaking role allows for representation of both these groups.
These episodes were part of the Rainbow Center's Rainbow Cinema series, which screens films tackling LGBTQ issues every Saturday.

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