Glee, gender and a dozen other things

Forgive me a moment for deviating from news commentary but I just finished watching this week’s episode of “Glee” and wow! There was a lot of exploration of gender in it (more so than normal). The head cheerleader whose name escaped me floated terms like “fem-phobic” and “Slut shaming” in the same conversation she accused someone of bullying her…. which was ironic since this was the same cheerleader who bullied the transgender Unique for using the girl’s bathroom. I have to say, that at first I wasn’t sure how I felt about the character Unique. It seemed like she was a caricature of stereotypes that people think “trans” people are. .However this week’s Glee episode was fairly comprehensive in terms of issues faced by transgender people, especially younger transgender people. As viewers we get to see her difficulty in not knowing which bathroom to use. We get to see her discomfort in both. Its eye opening for us non-trans types to see this. If Unique identifies as female, why would she feel uncomfortable in a girls bathroom? Then we see the reason. Other girls. This leads into the next question,”If Unique is a boy biologically wouldn’t she be more comfortable in a boys restroom with urinals? As viewers it becomes apparent very quickly why she cant easily use the boys restroom either. Whereas in the girls room there were demeaning remarks and insults, the boys restroom is filled with physical aggression and intimidation.  This is also a good way to showcase different types of bullying commonly used by different groups.    I think there IS a place Unique if only to make people comfortable with seeing transgender characters on TV. This is also a step towards acceptance.  In this week’s episode we as viewers can see and experience what Unique goes through when attempting to use the girl’s bathroom…and the boy’s bathroom. We see bullying in both forms but from boys and girls against her. It brought tears to my eyes listening (and watching) her sing “If I Were A Boy” In ways Beyonce probably never considered but said so much.


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