Sex Diaries, episode 3: Trans Lovers. This documentary of 45 minutes aired on Channel 4 a few days ago. You might be able to still watch it online on Channel 4’s website (although I believe this won’t work if you’re not physically in the UK… I am in the Philippines and the video didn’t load — fortunately, a good soul published a copy on Youtube).
First of all, I do appreciate that Channel 4 is featuring transgender stories. I don’t watch TV much, so I might be wrong, but it seems this channel airs a lot of transgender related programs overall. But then, I’m a bit disappointed by the sample of people they chose to follow. Have they asked us, we could have recommended a way more representative sample…
First, we have the archetype of tranny chasers: Maurice, who declares trans women are easier to sleep with (compared to biological women) because “not everybody likes it, to go with transgender”, so he’s basically doing them a favour. If you were looking for a specimen of a tranny chaser, here you have a beautiful one. Good thing the episode doesn’t follow Maurice longer than that.
Then comes Mark along with her wife Lorena, 23 years old from Brazil. I would pretty much like this couple actually, if only they were not organising “discrete” gatherings for men who like trans women, in an intimate environment with sauna and bath tub. I have nothing against people who like to do orgies and stuff, but it’s such a cliché… Yes, a lot of trans attracted men live their attraction in a discrete manner, but it shouldn’t be encouraged, because this feeds the chaser mentality, and this is damaging for trans women first of all, but also to the “real” trans attracted men, those who genuinely openly live their relationship with a trans woman and fight for a more accepting society. Other than that, I’m happy to see they’re a real couple, the kind who live together, have long term plans together, are proud of their partner and uplift each other.
The next character is Harlen, successful worker from the City, who is in love with Geri, a beautiful younger stage performer who seems to be of Filipino origin (they don’t say it in the documentary, but who employ expressions like “I feel so blessed” more than Filipinos?). Harlen is married, and is planning to move into a new flat with Geri as soon as he tells his wife about their relationship. Unfortunately, Geri leaves him a few weeks later because she is still in love with her ex boyfriend. I do feel sympathy for Harlen, to me he really looks genuinely in love with Geri, and he is not hiding it, as he introduced her to his close friends and family. According to Geri, her ex-boyfriend was not as open.
Finally we have Andy, single, who is looking for a relationship with a trans woman. He definitely looks like a good lad to me. The episode follows Andy through his dating adventures. First in a transgender night club in London where he finds no luck. No Andy, when you compliment a trans woman about how feminine she acts (27:00), she actually won’t feel complimented at all! Newbie mistake. I’m glad the gal is actually explaining it to him nicely. That’s the best way to educate (and advocate). Then we see Andy trying his luck online. His laptop screen is blurred, but we can recognise the dating sites he’s searching on. Another newbie mistake: if you’re looking for a RELATIONSHIP with a trans woman, don’t go on dating sites that call them TRANNIES. Finally, the camera briefly follows Andy as he is having a coffee date with a trans woman he met online. Ok, cool.
So, to sum up, we have 1) the most cliché of tranny chasers, 2) the trans couple who organises “discrete parties”, 3) the married guy who’s in love with a stage performer, and 4) the newbie who is looking for his first trans girlfriend. I don’t know for you, but it looks like a lot of clichés to me. These stories are real (as a TV viewer I hope so!), and it’s true they represent situations that trans women and trans attracted men often live. The problem is that the media are only showing that type of stories. Where are the every day’s life trans couples? You know, those who don’t differ that much from cisgender couples? Would the episode score the same number of views if it was featuring that type of couples instead? Either Channel 4 believes it, or they really couldn’t find other men to follow. After all, like the narrator says at the beginning, finding (trans attracted) men who are willing to talk on camera is not easy.
Do I recommend you watch this episode? Yes definitely, and if watching it inspires you to pursue the quest for the relationship you are looking for, it’s great.
Do I wish it was produced differently? Yes also. I feel like this documentary is showing just one side of the coin, the side that will score the biggest number of views, but doesn’t represent well the reality and diversity of the trans community. But it’s not just this documentary, most of them do it too.
As a final note, I hope my words don’t sound too harsh against this episode and its characters, my intention is not to trash them, but to give my educated opinion as a trans attracted man. In fact, I genuinely sympathise with Mark and Andy, and shall they sign up on our website for finding love, I’d be very happy to give them a free Premium membership.