A Change in the Media

Alice Purnell


Issue 28
Winter 2004

Since the GeRBill was passed there seems to have been a change of emphasis in television and newspaper reporting on matters of the phenomena of gender (or sexually or sexuality) variable people, in spite of the growing power of the Evangelical "Christian" howls of opposition to acceptance of them.

In the past the media could gloat on these people as being a joke, weird, perverted, sick, bad or mad, anything for cheap sensation. Now it does not so much seem to be the fact of people being trans, gay or intersexed which is treated by the papers or television documentaries and discussion shows, which is emphasised. Now it is particular problems, which are of interest.

The Gender Recognition Act 2004 and work by so many over the years has helped public awareness and education to some extent, so that they usually even know a little of the terminology.

Eddie Izzard as a transvestite makes people laugh not at him but with him, so cross-dressers are not seen as a threat. Nadia is a popular "icon" after her moment of fame in Big Brother - which after all was not anything but a dumbed-down entertainment - has shown that a trans-woman is acceptable, despite her laugh! Most people see her as a woman, not a freak.

There will always be inadequate people who still feel it is permissible to discriminate and be cruel, but they are becoming the minority.

Recently there have been a number of quite interesting programmes on the television:

Gynomastics - men who develop breasts. This subject was handled quite sensitively and embarrassment was avoided. It took some courage for the sufferers to be so candid about it.

Charles (Samantha) Kane - This programme looked at the life of an Iraqi born person (Sam Hashimi aged 43) who had money through property development, had been married with a family. Surprisingly there was acceptance from the brother. The impression Samantha gave was of a person who had more money than sense, and rushed into things without thinking them through, was quick to anger and really seemed to live a fantasy life. As a woman she certainly looked more convincing than as a man did. Having rushed for surgery she regretted it and blames her psychiatrist who she is attempting to sue.

Charles is living as a man, wants to be an eccentric English gentleman, in jeep and combat clothes, expecting to find a blonde bombshell who will not mind the artificial penis he now has. This apparently bright person thinks that a pneumatic erection might be better than his original equipment - another self-delusion. We can only hope he finds peace and maturity with the passing years. There seems to be a lack of accepting personal responsibility. It would indeed be tragic if this person does succeed in blaming a well-respected psychiatrist for his own decisions.

This does demonstrate that before opting for surgery one must realise that it is not reversible, and that thought, counselling and personal responsibility and care needs to be taken by the trans-person. If you dive in the shallow end of a swimming pool then you may well hurt yourself. It seems sad to feel you can blame someone else for that mistake.

Teenage Transsexuals - covered the situation of children with gender identity disorder. The programme covered several children's situations. Needless to say their parents were supportive and wanted to do the best for their child. (Sadly that seems to be still quite rare).

Kris was a trans-girl who wrote a letter to her parents at 17, saying she could not bear to go on trying to be a boy. The parents were totally shocked. His foot-balling mates were finding it "weird", but there was no bullying. His mother felt she was losing her son, but they, like her, had to come to terms with the situation.

Georgina aged 9 was convinced she was a boy and only answered to the name George. His mother felt lost and upset, but realised the truth when at 8 George demanded and got a boy's haircut. Mum coped on a day by day basis. George and she were fearful he would be beaten up if people found out he weren't fully a boy.

There was discussion about preventing, or delaying puberty with drugs from Prof. Richard Green along the lines of work done in the Netherlands, where Green pointed out that the delay should not be for more than a year because of the danger of brittle bone disease. He stated that his study indicated that about 74 of these children he studied in the States change from feeling trans to being gay in later life. Caution is important, but the steady onset of the wrong sort of puberty has its own problems for these children.

Reggie (Richard) was an 8-year-old American child with a twin sister, who insists she is a girl, and is allowed to be one by her bewildered parents. They are fearful for her future once she starts her puberty and simply want to do the right thing. If she starts to delay puberty with drugs, she may develop osteoporosis.

Michael at 16 feels she is a boy. His mother wants to keep him safe and is afraid he would be beaten up if other kids knew the truth. She is proud of her child.

What this programme showed was that there are real problems for parents who are accepting, but for some love is more important than what others might think or do.

Sex-Changed Fathers (From the "Real Life" programme) Fathers who change over are a problem for their children, who endured bullying, and loss of Dad, break-up of family.

Clive Willows cross-dressed. His wife left him with their boys. He increasingly felt he was a woman and changed his name to Claire. There were tattoos to remove electrolysis, hormones and the wait for surgery. Claire's parents wondered where they had gone wrong. Her eldest son used to refer to his Dad as "It". The lad suffered a lot of bullying because of other kids reaction to his Dad and was expelled from school because of his own rages and violence.

Another teenager described how Stephanie, his Dad, had left the family to fend for themselves for 25 years whilst she spent thousands on cosmetic surgery to become a showgirl.

An absent father was worse than a trannie at home or in contact

There was a real sense of loss from these kids and sadness from ex-spouses of selfishness (from Helen- Steph's ex-wife), though one (Cheryl) remained a friend (of Bernardette) and seemed to understand.

It seems clear that the family (children and ex-spouse and parents) need support as well as the transperson. I gather this is provided in the Netherlands and Canada, but it is only paid lip service here in the UK.

Web page copyright GENDYS Network. Text copyright of the author. Last amended 16.08.06