Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair cover this week made it clear that we are now at a cultural turning point when it comes to mainstream media sources earnestly embracing and supporting transgender people. Driving the point home further is an assortment of new television shows debuting this year, and the first episode of ABC Family's new reality series Becoming Us — which centers on two Midwestern teenagers, each of whom has a father that is transitioning — is available for a free preview now on iTunes. Becoming Us will begin its run on ABC Family this Monday, June 8th.
Approaching its subjects like any other suburban family
ABC Family has made somewhat of a name for itself by being remarkably progressive in its programming, with GLAAD citing The Fosters in particular in its 2014 Where We Are On TV study. Judging from the trailer, Becoming Us definitely falls into ABC Family's lighter, family-friendly style of programming, and that's precisely why it's significant: the show is approaching its subjects as it would any other family. But the network is just one of many making strides when it comes to representation. Netflix's Orange is the New Black garnered considerable attention thanks to Laverne Cox's breakout, Emmy-nominated performance starting in 2013, while Amazon had its first true critical hit with Transparent, which features Jeffrey Tambor as a family patriarch who comes out as transgender to his family. And while Sense8 — the new Netflix sci-fi series from the Wachowskis — is an ensemble show, one of its main characters is a transgender woman played by Jamie Clayton who serves as the emotional linchpin of the entire series.
Along with that ongoing array of shows and Becoming Us, a set of other reality shows focusing on the transgender community will also be debuting this year, including New Girls on the Block from Discovery Life and All That Jazz from TLC. Of course, the highest-profile program of them all, the upcoming E! series I Am Cait, will debut this July.