In the first episode of this cutting edge documentary series, we dealt with which stage everyone was at in their transition, and were introduced to each individual’s story. This week we were given a taste of how it feels to be a transgendered person in an often unforgiving society.
I’m already so invested in the people involved that it’s almost unbearable to watch the discrimination that they face. Both Drew and Sarah form part of the more emotional crux of this episode, Drew in her search for a job and Sarah in her ‘coming out’ to her family. Both women express their vulnerability so clearly, and the programme makers present their stories in such a sensitive way, that only the most bigoted of people would fail to be moved. It is a special kind of prejudice that befalls transgender people, as explored this week, one that makes those perpetuating it feel as if they are justified in their beliefs. Take the women in the bridal shop who rejected Drew on the grounds that she would make customers feel uncomfortable. Just to be clear, they rejected her because she is transgender. Equal opportunities anyone? It seems like I’m forever filling out those forms in job applications, and I clearly remember the part about how the information will have no bearing on my application. So while they seemed nice but uninformed, those women were actually breaking the law. And I’m quite sure that they are not the first and will not be the last. Couple this with the fact that they discussed the masculine features of Drew’s appearance while she was sat 2 feet away, and we begin to get an idea of the world from a transgender perspective.
Sarah’s journey so far shows the difficulties that a trans faces in the initial phase of their transition. Throughout the episode, her upcoming visit to her family become a central focus, but it ended in a simple conversation. It appeared that her mother, while shocked, seemed to accept her decision to live as a woman, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit deflated. I wouldn’t have wished for an explosive encounter – Sarah is too sweet and vulnerable a figure for anyone to ever wish hurt on her – but a few minutes of conversation in a car seemed less than the event deserved. Hopefully the aftermath of Sarah’s visit will be more of an explored topic in next week’s episode.