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Faulkner

Transgender Characters on Soaps

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Let’s get it out of the way: soaps have been poorly written for years, and they don’t write their heterosexual cis characters very well, much less the LGB end of the spectrum. I wouldn’t expect any of the current teams to do a story like this justice, not in this TV environment.

 

But I was thinking about the few trans characters we’ve seen on American soaps: Zoe on AMC, Maya on B&B, Terry on GH. I might be missing someone, but none of them were legacy characters. (All of them were trans women as well. Trans men apparently don’t exist.)

 

As open-ended serial storytelling, soaps missed an opportunity to follow the longterm journeys of trans characters and how they might wrestle with coming to terms with their identity, especially within the intimate context of a family and community.

 

It would have been so enlightening to see an Abbott teen or Brady scion navigate gender presentation and grapple with important decisions (hormones, gender confirmation surgery) over years. 

 

Longterm storytelling is tough, especially with writer turnover and new teams abandoning the stories of their predecessors in a quest for better ratings.

 

Perhaps what could work in theory is a well-known character who has been long off the canvas returning at some relatively advanced stage of transition and we’d observe the impact on them and other characters. 

 

But I dunno: in a perfect world, where good writers are allowed to write interesting, character-based stories, how would you imagine daytime could integrate trans characters into the fabric of their shows?

 

At the end of the day, they should just be “typical soap characters” with scandals and romances and sibling rivalries, but the specificities of their experience should also be honored.

 

And I wouldn’t want these stories to be mere PSA fodder or publicity stunts (à la Maya Avant) or a way to prove woke bonafides.

 

What are some examples perhaps from foreign soaps or primetime series that could be models? 

 

 

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Azure C on The City

Dr Terry Randolph on GH

Zarf/Zoe on AMC 

 

I think that is all so far sadly

Edited by John

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Just now, John said:

Azure C on The City

Dr Terry Randolph on GH

Zarf/Zoe on AMC 

 

I think that is all so far sadly

Forgot about Azure! Thanks for that.

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6 minutes ago, BetterForgotten said:

Coronation Street had Hayley Cropper - who was a major character for 16 years on the show before the actress decided to leave. 

 

 

Thanks! I knew British soaps would have stepped up at some point. Although I know some people would have found that “female...by choice” line problematic.

 

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Yeah, I agree: today's soaps cannot be trusted to tell meaningful stories about transgendered characters.  AMC, in particular, hipped me to that when Zarf announced to everyone in Pine Valley that he had a penis.

Edited by Khan

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13 minutes ago, Faulkner said:

Thanks! I knew British soaps would have stepped up at some point. Although I know some people would have found that “female...by choice” line problematic.

 

Hayley was the first ever long-running trans character on a soap, and this was 1998. Originally, they planned for her to be a short-term character, but the audience fell in love with her and they made her a bigger character. 

Edited by BetterForgotten

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Germany's "Lindenstraße" introduced Marek Zöllig played by Martin Walde in May 2016. He was the brother of regular character Nina Zöllig and was married with a child. A while later, Marek was revealed to be transsexual and gradually changed his appearance to eventually become a woman. The character is now known as "Sunny Zöllig" and is still a regular character as of today. Sunny has been in a relationship with bisexual Tanja Schildknecht for quite a while.

 

Here's a gallery highlighting all the important moments in Sunny's life on Lindenstraße: https://www1.wdr.de/daserste/lindenstrasse/personen/aktive/rolle-marek-zoellig-100.html

 

Sunny has just started her hormone treatment:

 

 

Sunny is fighting for unisex bathrooms at the show's main restaurant:

 

 

Sunny is worried about Tanja:

 

 

Sunny receives a visit from her son:

 

 

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Emmerdale currently has Matty Barton (previously Hannah Barton), played by real-life transgender Ash Palmisciano. He's been on the show since June 2018. (Hannah was on from 2009 to 2012).

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Degrassi did a transgender story with Adam way better than any of the US Soaps

Edited by John

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