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Queer Eye is the Netflix show that everyone seems to be talking about. It stars Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, and Jonathan Van Ness—the "Fab Five" who give a make over to someone who needs it. The show is based off the Bravo Series titled Queer Eye For the Straight Guy.
Whilst the whole show is brilliant (no seriously—go and watch it because I can't sing it's praises enough), there's one episode in particular that I want to write about today. I am, of course, talking about season 2 episode 5 which is titled "Sky's the Limit." It follows a trans man named Skyler, who is recovering from his top surgery and needs to have his legal gender changed to reflect his true identity. The Fab Five give him and his flat a full make over and throw a thank you party at his favourite bar for the people who helped raise money for his top surgery,
As a trans man myself, this episode was hugely important to me. Not because it educated any cis people watching, not because he was sweet and brave and has won the hearts of millions.
It was important to me because I got to see myself represented in main stream media for the first time.
I remember sitting in a seminar at university and we were discussing minorities in Disney films. My professor asked the group "How did you feel when you saw yourself represented on screen for the first time?" I was 20 years old and I couldn't answer. I had never seen myself on screen before. I had never seen a transgender man on screen before. After watching Skyler Jay on Queer Eye, I finally have the answer to that question.
I felt nothing but euphoria—I was ecstatic. I knew that the opening scene was a trans man having top surgery before it was even revealed. Having watched a fair few top surgery videos in my time it was pretty easy to spot what was going on. I became incredibly emotional as he looked at his flat chest for the first time. I haven't reached that stage in my transition yet, so that is a wonderful feeling I can look forward to. Until then though, I can live vicariously through other men getting their top surgeries.
The Fab Five were very quick to show that they were all supportive, but some members had more experience with trans people than others. Karamo was immediately comfortable, relaxed, and knew what he was doing. As a psychotherapist it was only natural that he was used to interacting with trans people. Tan was at the other end of the scale. He knew next to nothing about trans people, claiming that he'd never personally known any trans people. That didn't stop him from sitting down and talking to Skyler in an attempt to educate himself. Tan demonstrated exactly how cis people should behave around trans people and it was such a good message to get across.
Skyler was recovering from top surgery, and showing great strength whilst doing so. He'd had complications during his operation, meaning that he would require another operation. I can only hope that he had a wonderful recovery from all his operations so far and that he has successful surgeries in the future.
For the first time in my life, I saw an actual trans man presented on screen being treated correctly by cis people. I didn't see abuse or anything else the media constantly insists trans people must go through. I saw an ordinary trans man—just like me—living his everyday life. And it was so refreshing.