Monday, June 8, 2015

Becoming Us - The ABC Family Premiere

Tonight, ABC family aired a new docu-series called Becoming Us. It's about Ben Lehwald and his experience as his dad goes from the transition from male to a female named Carly (she was Charley).

Ben is a high schooler from Illinois. He has a great sister and a great girlfriend. He knew exactly where life was headed until his dad decided to transition into her new persona, Carly.
Ben's mom Suzy is a fitness instructor. She says her kids are the most important things in her life. Last year, she and Ben's dad had said they were getting divorced, and then Ben got the news about his dad, and realized that his dad was growing boobs.

Charley tried to make his life fit was expected - a man, a dad, a coach. He liked it for a while, but it became harder to be that person because it wasn't who he wanted to be. He developed a drinking problem, due in part to his inability to feel like he belonged in his body.

Susie said the family's lives turned upside down when Charley decided to transition.
It turns out that Ben and Danielle have one thing in common - Danielle's dad transitioned to female when she was 7 years old. He still goes by he, but wears makeup and shops for bras - he's kind of in the middle. Danielle thought about introducing her dad to Carly.

We next met Ben's sister, Sutton. She's actually Ben's half sister - Carly's Sutton's step-parent. Sutton recently got engaged to her fiance, Kevin. She wants to be there for Ben as he deals with Carly's transition. She talked to her mom and brother about her engagement, and this was a very normal family moment. We found out Kevin asked for Suzy's permission to marry Sutton. Sutton loved that. Sutton said Suzy is her mom and dad all rolled into one. The topic of walking down the aisle came up, and the situation got tense.

Carly went to visit Suzy's apartment. The pair were married for sixteen years, and Carly admitted she began her transition without Suzy's consent and before the divorce. The pair tried counseling, and Suzy was okay with the cross dressing, but it seemed like the deception was a big part of tearing them apart. They agreed that they both still care about Ben, and seem to get along on at least a friendship level.

This part of the show got so contrived - Ben's friend Ayton, at a meal, made a joke about Carly looking hot, and then they discussed the complications of being transgendered, including what gender the person is attracted to. Everything was very positive, which is good, but also too much so - they're ignoring real issues that family members my face.

After that, we saw more about how families are normal and have normal problems, even with a transgender person. And we faced a key fact - people want and deserve to feel at home on their bodies, and not everybody does. It's not as if people want to feel 'wrong' in their own bodies. It's not just about gender - it can be about anything - weight, for example. We wouldn't tell someone not to lose weight, so we could consider this same concept when someone is transgender.
We were also told that it has been a major struggle for the transgender people on the show to be themselves - people on the streets can be rude, mean and unaccepting. And people certainly don't deserve ridicule just for living their lives. 

I'm not going to run you through the whole episode, but this looks like it'll give a good perspective into the lives of transgendered individuals and their families. We'll see a lot of the same stuff we see on many reality shows - family drama, relationships strengthened and weakened, and a lot of positive experiences involving nontraditional families.

My thoughts:

This is a powerful show that will hopefully have a positive impact. People should be allowed to live their lives in a way that makes them happy, as long as they live in a moral and ethical way. While not everyone agrees with the freedom to be transgender, this will hopefully help those who don't understand it that being transgender can be a wonderful thing. People deserve to feel at home in their own bodies; we should encourage people to follow their dreams and become the people they truly are.

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