Historic BBC Documentaries

Times have changed for Transgender People in the last 50 years, or have they? I have found listening to the news or reading the media quite painful recently.
So how were things back in the 60’s and 70’s. The BBC provides us with some fascinating insight.

They have released footage of Trans Women discussing their lives in a documentary filmed in 1973 on the BBC history website. Thank you to Amanda for highlighting this.
From a series titled Open Door, the programme gave a platform to four Trans Women who discussed the struggles they faced in life including transitioning, healthcare, relationships, and employment.
“Jokes about the operation are all that most people know about transsexualism. Tonight’s group discuss their situation in a more serious and comprehensive way, and draw attention to the many difficulties they endure,” reads the 1973 Radio Times entry for the episode.
Open Door first aired on BBC2 at 11:30 pm on Monday 2 April 1973 and is considered the first UK show to treat trans people with sympathy and give them a platform to discuss their rights.

Thanks to Carole, who highlighted Casa Susanna documentary, broadcast as part of the Storyvile (always interesting) series on BBC Four on Tuesday 31st Jan.
Casa Suzanna was set up as a retreat in the early 60s, at a time when it was illegal to wear the clothing of the opposite ‘sex’ in many parts of America. Suzanna herself identified as Transgender, but most of the residents considered themselves crossdressers. The moving naritive is really sympathetic and the stories will be very familiar to us all. America what a country; you can’t wear that dress Sir, or those trousers Mam, but that big gun, no problem.

These programmes also reminded me of ‘A Change Of Sex’, the ground-breaking five-part series which followed Julia Grant’s transition over 30 years, also starting in the ’70s. All the episodes are still on the BBC iPlayer and I watched it again during lockdown. It is often heartbreaking, especially in the scenes at the gender clinic. Julia has good times and bad, but she is amazingly resilient in the face of adversity and has a fascinating life.
Yes, life is better, but it is still a very bumpy road for Trans rights, and the road to a GIC is long and winding. Me?

I have never been happier!

One thought on “Historic BBC Documentaries

  1. Dear Beccie, I too have found the news over the past several months very disturbing. 26 years ago when I started being Alison and up until a few years ago I felt completely comfortable & safe in going out in public and using ladies toilets etc as Alison. The recent high profile news about crossdressers and transitioning transgender people using women’s facilities have made me quite nervous about going out in public again, especially as my health problems have at long last been correctly diagnosed and going out is more likely. Life was so much more simple up until a few years ago. I hope you are keeping well. Kind regards Alison

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