My Transsexual Summer Review: Ex Men

MY TRANSSEXUAL SUMMER: Tuesday 8th November, C4, 10pm

The entire country is about to know what seven brave transsexuals did last summer.

Everyone has body hang-ups or days when THAT pair of jeans just don’t fit right – and not many people would like those hang-ups broadcast to the nation. For Drew, Donna, Karen, Sarah, Lewis, Max and Fox, it is their very skin which causes discomfort; the living breathing organ that defines who we are to our fellow human being.

All at different stages of “transformingâ€?, the self-styled “magic tranny sevenâ€? will be sharing some of their most intimate secrets with the viewing public as they continue their personal struggles to change sex.

Last night’s first episode introduced us to the group and followed their first encounter on a weekend break away together. Some recent reality documentary shows such as My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding have been accused of turning subjects into a spectacle which Dorito-munching middle-England can enjoy poking fun at on a regular basis. The line is a fine one in the televisual world where entertainment value is king.

But My Transsexual Summer strikes the right balance of insight and respect, satiating the curiosity that understandably arises from a sex change scenario but without unnecessary exploitation. And it’s all done without that ghastly, twinkling circus-style music that seemed to have infiltrated the soundtrack of most Channel 4 documentaries about “differentâ€? people.

It has to be said that most of these men and women look incredible and utterly convincing as their new found gender. But it is the vigour with which the more experienced members of the group adopt a month-old “bad trannyâ€? (her words, not mine) and give her a makeover which, provide some quite moving scenes.

Far from making a spectacle of anybody this show attempts to tell the real, and often painful, stories behind the difficult decisions taken by all of these individuals. Sure to open a few pairs of eyes to the reality of sex change; this is a brave and sensitive programme.

Next week we find out how Karen, a 52-year-old woman who has already lived an alternate life as a man with a marriage and kids to boot, got on with taking the huge surgical step towards sisterhood.