The cable channel TLC, whose acronym stands for The Learning Channel, aired its new show about couples in transition on Sunday May 20th. “Lost in Transition” is the latest reality show about couples going through transition after being together for several years. Unfortunately we had a fundraising event that day, so I wasn’t able to watch in real time. But, the following day my daughters and I watched in on our cable company’s on-demand channel. I sat down with a curious itch and an open mind, as many of these programs are highly triggering for the transgender and gender non-conforming community and their allies. I was hoping to see something that would educate the cisgender community but once again, it was a letdown.
My children tell me that when I watch programs about the “transgender experience” I sound like sports fan yelling at the referee on TV because he made a bad call. So as we watched the show together, I bit my lip and said nothing. The misgendering and deadnaming was bountiful and more than once my twenty three year old turned to me with a disgusted look on her face. Side note: her empathy for the transgender community makes me proud to be her mother. My wife and I have raised some pretty amazing kids. My seventeen year old however did not make it through the entire program. She tapped out at about half way through and left the two of us to watch the horror alone.
"I AM WELL AWARE OF WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO HAVE YOUR SPOUSE COME OUT TO YOU AS TRANSGENDER."
I am well aware of what it feels like to have your spouse come out to you as transgender. It halts everything else going on in your life and demands your complete attention. I was hoping this program would help those partners who are at the beginning stages of this journey, but am not sure that will happen. When they say things like “he told me he wants to be a woman” it is a disservice to the struggle these people go through. I wanted to scream, “No, he does not want to be a woman. She is and always has been a woman and has finally found the courage to come out and deal with it.” Insert explicit language here.
Of course I watched the second episode last night. Since this is a program on The Learning Channel, I again was hoping that there would some content that would help the cisgender population to understand what these people go through. Lucy, one of the transgender women featured in the show, goes to see her therapist. I think to myself, “This is it!! This is when a professional gives you the ABC’s of transition. NOPE. This is the definition she gives for gender dysphoria: “A chronic state of dissatisfaction with ones gender.” She continues to say “They want their physical appearance to match their internal experience.” I can get behind the second part of her comment to an extent (not everyone chooses to physically transition), but that is in no way the definition of gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a conflict between a person’s assigned gender at birth and the gender they know themselves to be.
I will continue to watch “Lost in Transition” as I feel invested in these women’s lives and I hope for the best possible outcome for each of them. However, I hope to see some real education for the viewer who knows nothing about transgender community. For all those people who have never met a transgender person before and for some reason have some kind of preconceived notion, I hope it shatters the stereotypes and allows you to see that they are just like everyone else.
Watch the trailer for "Lost in Transition" on TLC below.