Bruce Jenner Interview Highlights Transgender TV Series Boom

Bruce Jenner Interview Highlights Transgender TV
Image courtesy Discovery Life Channel

Bruce Jenner’s disclosure in a heavily promoted ABC News interview that he is in the midst of transitioning to a female gender identity comes at a time when TV has heightened interest in transgender life stories.

ABC Family took advantage of the natural tie-in to promote its upcoming docu series “Becoming Us” during Friday’s two-hour “20/20” special featuring Diane Sawyer’s interview with Jenner, the Olympian and former “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” star.

“Becoming Us” revolves around a teenage boy grappling with his father’s transition to a woman. The series premieres June 8 and hails from Ryan Seacrest Prods.

The Discovery Life channel earlier this month launched the unscripted series “New Girls on the Block.” The series focuses on six women in Kansas City, Mo., who are beginning to live openly as transgender. Conveyor Media has produced five hourlong episodes.

Discovery Life’s larger sibling, TLC, is preparing to launch this summer “All That Jazz,” a series about Jazz Jennings, a transgender 14-year-old girl. The series follows Jazz’s efforts to navigate puberty and the drama of high school as a transgender teen. This is Just a Test produced 11 hourlong episodes for TLC.

Transgender issues came into the spotlight last year with Amazon’s narrative comedy series “Transparent,” which starred Jeffrey Tambor as a patriarch who jolts his family with the news that he is transitioning to womanhood. The growing number of transgender actors has also been highlighted by the prominence of Laverne Cox on Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black.”

Although the transgender community is no longer in TV’s shadows, the Jenner interview is sure to mark a milestone for mainstream discussion of gender identity concerns. GLAAD and other orgs were quick to issue media tip sheets for coverage of the Jenner interview and transgender issues in general — a signal that Jenner’s interview is a teachable moment for the country, journos included.

“Every transgender person’s journey is unique, and by choosing to share this story, Bruce Jenner adds another layer to America’s understanding of what it means to be transgender,” said Nick Adams, GLAAD’s director of programs, transgender media. “We hope that after hearing Jenner’s story, people will want to learn more about the issues and challenges facing their transgender friends, co-workers and family members. Stories like these will help create a world in which everyone can express their gender identity without fear of discrimination and violence.”

Pictured: “The Girls Next Door”


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  1. It isn’t up to me to define other people’s core identities for them; Gay, Straight, Bi, Trans, Poly, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, liberal, conservative … whatever, it isn’t my decision to make. At some point we’re just going to have to learn to accept each other as human beings regardless of the details, if we don’t, there isn’t much hope for our long term survival.

    To accept different beliefs is what it means to be American. Seriously, this is 2015. Let the people live! Let gay people marry, let transgenders in the military, whatever! I’m big into personal freedoms and equality, so I think libertarians are right on the money on this one.

    Drug legalization is another.

    Higher taxes, more welfare, and universal health care, on the other hand, should never happen. Paying my health insurance bill ($400/month from BCBS) is a killer! My car insurance is currently only $25/month (from Insurance Panda), but who knows when Obama will try to step in and create socialized car insurance? Keep America Free!!!

    Land of the free, home of the brave, right? Equality for everyone. No other way to be.

    And as far as I’m concerned, Bruce, God loves each one of us the way we are, and I’m sorry you have had to struggle your entire life with this. If I could, I would give you a big hug and tell you that you are a beautiful human being-just the way you are.

  2. Alex says:

    A few years ago it was zombies and sexy vampire’s, now it’s likeable homosexuals. But in this case they are not drawing viewers, even their target audience isn’t interested. “A Normal Heart” bombed on HBO, but I think the main reason it bombed was because it was a mello drama full of over acting.

  3. Clark says:

    They’ll get 250,000 viewers and call it a hit. No wonder TV is dying, as Jerry Seinfeld pointed out. It’s because of reality trash like this, and shows like “One Big Happy.”

    • Anonymous says:

      The industry has a little myopia due to its insular nature – they assume the things they care passionately about are the same things they think flyover country cares about, or even the diverse inhabitants of the major cities. They then trigger a hand-ringing series of navel-gazing articles in Variety, wondering ‘What’s wrong with Hollywood?’ blaming YouTube, video games and the like. Yes, those are factors, but more product of interest to the larger population would help. Sure, these stories should be told – heck, I’m interested – but there really is already a lot of this.

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