Nat Geo TV to air hour-long special, “American Transgender”

On Tuesday, May 1, 2012, at 8:00 PM EST, Nat Geo TV will air “American Transgender,” an hour-long feature looking at the lives of three transgender people and their families. From the NGTV Blog post:

 American Transgender takes us firsthand into the daily lives of three individuals—Clair, Jim, and Eli—who each identify with a different gender from the one in which they were born and raised. We witness their struggles and triumphs, and experience their hopes and fears.  How do they manage at work, build careers, maintain friendships, and nurture lasting, intimate partnerships? Each of the characters in the film tells their story in their own words as we follow them through life’s daily battles and victories, both large and small.

One of the people they follow, Eli Strong, is a friend of NCTE. Talking about his experience in making the documentary, Strong said, “I was able to have conversations with my family that I’d never been able to have. I was able to show how ‘normal’ my life is. It also gave me the opportunity to give voice to some of my own struggles, as well as some of those I’ve heard from my trans peers.”

Watch a preview of the special here.

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19 Responses to Nat Geo TV to air hour-long special, “American Transgender”

  1. toyneboi says:

    I applaud them for doing so but I have one issue especially as a transman of color. Why is it that they never gather any men of color for these projects seeing as though it is a well known fact being a man of color has different life aspects then add the ratio of transition and its all kinds of loops that many many people need to be aware of. The first POC transman documentary was done by a independent director and POC transman but I think it needs more light then what it has gotten. Who knows maybe I will take the initiative to do this as many networks don’t seem to get the point. Coming out I was the only person like myself I seen for years and that does take a toll. I think there needs to be more open opportunity for all the trans people to get in on projects such as these. I would gladly volunteer for any thing of this nature. I have been the first man of color to100% openly record my transition (on youtube, wordpress, a few publications, and many more avenues) but no one ever approaches me to ask..”Well what makes your story unique?”

    If they are going to do stories like this I believe they need to do a wider expansion of searching before moving forward with things as I never knew about it until about a day ago. And especially because I am a transman that openly discusses more then just top surgery as many will only discuss this. i am very open and honest and I think it is about time that the world was subjected to us as much as we are subjected to them and their conformity. Remember big networks we come in different colors just like our stories come in different shades.

    For anyone that may happen across this comment if you would like to add me to any transmale related stories, publishings, documentaries, etc by all means contact me as the answer will always be yes.

    A.R.,MA

  2. Baker says:

    Dear A.R., MA,

    Just a heads up, our very dear friend and transman POC, Antonio, is included in the documentary. Having been behind the scenes of this documentary, I can without a doubt say that NatGeo was *very* interested in his story. However, as we all know, life as a transperson (or for anyone really) can make publicity a delicate situation as our personal lives become possible fodder for the less desirable reactions of those that may not have been aware that we are anything other than their preconceived notions of our identities. In the end, it was a personal decision that none of us could or would argue with… Aside from him, NatGeo did quite a bit of asking around, which is how Eli found out – but many, similar to Antonio, just didn’t feel they wanted to be under the microscope. It is difficult enough to transition under the radar, nevermind doing so and then putting yourself on national tv.

    It is unfortunate that you were not aware of the filming as I completely agree – we come in all shapes, sizes, colors and expressions, and this was an amazing platform from which to speak. If possible, consider joining DCATS (DC Area Transmasculine Society) or another similar organization if you are not in the area – they are always in need of big brothers to help those just realizing themselves. Whether it’s to answer questions about different doctors, or how to ask a girl (or boy) on a date – becoming a big brother can make a big difference in someone’s life.

    Much love and thank you for putting yourself out there. The more who do, the less others can try to define us negatively, as well provide more hope for those considering transition.

    - Baker

  3. Jens says:

    I am first deaf transman in state. I did not hear anyone in this state who is also deaf. I know I have wrote a few book about my view of point with world and my tough life with my gender in my life, too. I am await for my last book to be published. I have vlog in my youtube, too. I know everyone wanted to show what is gender, disabled, race, and any issues. I heard lot of people put issues about us and our life. I am able to help to understand and try to open any issues about genders.

    JR

  4. sam says:

    I think there will be more and more documentarys about Transmen or women in the future,however i find it bothersome that race has anything to do with this. I feel nomatter what race or creed you are it can be a very difficult and challenging time and transition for everyone. I dont see color,and i really dont see gender, i see people and thats it. Because to me being transgender is the last thing i am, the first thing i am is human. When i introduce myself i dont say hi im a white transguy. Because those two very things are not what i am. Im very proud of the acceptance and attention that we are getting ie: documentaries and books being written, the president trying his best to change things laws being changed or clarification as to what type of protection we as trans are under. And as time goes by it will get even better.Race has nothing to do with this. If that was the case im sure we would be hearing other people of different color/race saying hey what about us? We have to keep positive and and not segregate ourselfs because the different color of our skin. We need to stick together because no matter what our differences are we have two things in common we are trans and human. I just find it pointless, and its 2012, times have changed and even thou there are those few that see color and discriminate its definitely not like it was 60 or 50 years ago. And 20 years ago you definitely would not be seeing documentaries about trans with out the word taboo in the title. Things are changing but if we keep trying to segregate our selfs by race and saying because of the color of our skin we have a different experence and i just dont believe that to be true. As for finding trans folks to go on tv and share their experiences, i can see how it would be hard and some might back out, i know that i myself would not have the courage to and would not want that attention. I am trans but the point of transitioning for me is so that i feel and see myself how i am on the inside. I think i would be more self conscious after the documentary, knowing now if someone were to see me they would first say i was trans instead of saying first i was a man. Having said that i think the world of those that do share themselfs and much kudos because it takes guts and bravery. And i truely believe that they are amazing people for having the courage to show the world who and what they are and their experience. My point of this whole thing is just that we are making progress and we shouldnt seperate ourselfs because of skin color.. we need to love eachother and suport other

    • Erik says:

      I think it is great that they are trying to get other trans that arw different races to document their experences but like “Sam” is saying i agree that skin color should not be a factor. But then again i can see where african american ftm or mtf can have different reactions to their transition because of color, but i also think that no matter your color or race you are, people can be racist and even thou times are different we still have bone heads out there. No race is inferior anymore. And if u think there is u might wanna take a look at ur self because u might be one of those bone heads.. thank u Sam for the novel. I think u hit a couple good points.

    • toyneboi says:

      Hey Sam,

      Maybe you got the wrong ideas of what I was saying. Firstly to make a point it is not about color it is about proper inclusion of all ratios of transpeople individually and if you look at all the documentaries the ratio of all people of color (as i never specified what race i was speaking of) are not included and its been said many times before.

      “If that was the case im sure we would be hearing other people of different color/race saying hey what about us?”

      In light of what you said there are many places and spaces where this has been said but many voices are not heard due to A they mean minimal to others or B they are private groups where people see POC and don’t even try to join in. I can tell you there are plenty of groups you probably never even thought to populate simply because of the name of the group. You say its 2012, well in 2012 I still walk down the street and get profiled, I still can not drive a car that looks like the payments are over 300 dollars a month without getting pulled over, I still have to worry about sending my son to the store and him never coming home due to him looking suspect. So to say that its 2012 like that has any relevance on the state of racism in this country is a bit insulting. Possibly just stating you do not understand honestly from where Im coming from would be more appropriate as this issue is VERY real to thousands of us that still have to deal with this every waking moment. There also comes the many different cultural aspects of people that are never explored like religion, social grouping, gathering, employment, access to healthcare, sex work, and the list goes on which are statistically affecting more men and women of color. I can pull the fact sheets if you would like.

      I am not separating anyone by color simply asking for those that want to share be informed so that we can inform those around us of the things we go through, the things people do not see, the reality of my life as well as yours without leaving anything out. I am well aware many do not like the spot light but I say it like this for every piece of ignorance you receive you teach 2 and free one from self isolation and confusion. I have friends that have to sleep on the floor due to stray bullets and still have to deal with transitioning; will we see this story? NO. But as I stated many will see exactly what I mean as I am going to take this matter into my own hands and make sure there is full inclusion and everyone that wants to be added in can be added in. Whether they be European, African decent, Indian, Asian, Latino, Middle Eastern, or what ever have you.

      As stated I am not at all against sharing, nor would I feel self conscious as the point of transition I am in there is no one or nothing that can unjustify who I am regardless of where I came from. The moment people lose that power over us they will leave you alone. Im one that believes of it like this, if my business is going to be put out there im going to do it myself and include facts so that there is no negative connotations made. If i lose so called “friends” oh well such is life and to me a real friend would stand by you through thick and then not fall like the autumn leaves. I plan on being a very open and public trans figure in the medical field as well so this for myself is nothing. It needs to be to the point it should not matter if you want to live stealth or not you are just respected fully and not as Eli said people acting hip and still very blatantly disrespecting. Every minority group had to take a stand and be as visible as possible to finally end oppression so the documentaries are a great way but there will be much much more to come.

    • Melody says:

      sam, your statements about race reveal the privilege that you live with as a white man. How you introduce yourself is your choice, but it is important to recognize that the color of your skin represents your “right” to access things that others cannot. As a white transguy, you have access to images that represent your experience. I share that same privilege as a white ciswoman.

      To “not see color” is to ignore the fact that race has a lot to do with every experience every day for people who are not white. There is no escaping the color of their skin in a white-dominated society. Please consider the exclusion experienced by many voices and identities that are rarely reflected in our media. The trans experience is more than just yours to relate to.

  5. [...] Strong to the National Center for Transgender Equality about making the doc: “I was able to have conversations with my family that I’d never been able to have. I was [...]

  6. [...] Strong to the National Center for Transgender Equality about making the doc: “I was able to have conversations with my family that I’d never been able to have. I was [...]

  7. Good story. But it’s lacking in diversity. It’s not about skin color it’s about how the general public views transgender people. White people are not the only one’s to undergo transition. Claire’s story is not the typical socialization of a trans person and definitely not of color. It’s way harder for people of color to transition. It’s nice that she’s had a very successful transition and has found love because it’s rare but her story is not the common story and nor is it new. I was in San Diego at the conference when they met and we should love and support them. However like many documentaries that have come before they fail to discuss the authentic hard to define areas of transgender community and what it means. This again, as stated before is another perspective and example from an caucasian point of view. In the end though, it’s important to focus on how videos like these regardless of color is all about breaking barriers and fueling conversation. We all want what they have and that we can’t be ambiguous about.

  8. Dianne says:

    I also noticed that there was nothing about trans women over 50 in the Intermountain West. Seriously though, this special put a very human and approachable face on the trans community. Let’s see this rising tide as something that will lift all our boats together in a positive way. It was definitely not a typical trans experience story but I see that as part of it’s beauty. It had Cinderella and it had the young man on his journey of self discovery returning home. People outside the community need to see these sorts of images to balance out the painful and victimized portrayals. We need to be shown as “just people” so neighbors and employers and voters see us a peers and not as “other.”

  9. [...] couple of nights ago, National Geographic TV screened an hour long special on trans experience. Here’s the [...]

  10. elainezfw says:

    Set your DVRs; this show repeats on NatGeo on Tuesday 5/8 at 4pm Eastern.

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    [...]Nat Geo TV to air hour-long special, “American Transgender” « National Center for Transgender Equality's Blog[...]…

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