“Lost in Transition”

By David-Elijah Nahmod, July 2018 Issue.

The story line(s) of one of TLC’s newest shows, which premiered May 20, is this: Four wives have recently learned their husbands have been keeping a big secret for years. As their truths come out in the first episode of “Lost In Transition,” viewers learn that each husband wants to become a woman.

This intimate portrait of four loving couples facing follows each of the couples as they, in very different ways, move forward after coming out.

AJ (now Karen) and Beverly.

The reality series will serve as an education for viewers who don't fully understand the steps in transitioning – many of which are on a case-by-case basis.

Coming out as trans can be a terrifying experience, as transgender individuals so often face rejection and violence. When a transgender person comes out and shares their truth, their families must come out as well. The series does not shy away from the variety of reactions that follow – some relationships are destroyed and others are strengthened.

One of the more touching stories told in “Lost In Transition” is that of Stacy and Les, a blue collar couple in rural Washington State who have one baby and with another on the way. Les is a self-described "man's man," and he works in a gun store (which causes concerns of its own). So, when Les comes out as Leslie, Stacy is caught by surprise. She accepts the situation with good humor and even jokes about being a lesbian.

The couple loves each other unconditionally, which is exceptionally heartwarming as the show follows them on a shopping for Leslie's first female outfits. In a very moving sequence from the series' second episode, Stacy and Leslie meet their best friends (one of whom is Leslie’s co-workers) in a bar. Leslie is wearing her new female clothes and is in full make-up. It’s her first time out in public while presenting as female. Leslie waits outside while Stacy prepares their friends.

"So, Les is waiting outside," Stacy tells their friends. "He's been looking for a way to tell you something really important and hasn't been able to figure out how, so if you guys could be supportive that would mean a lot to both of us."

Leslie nervously walks into the bar. Several patrons stare at her, but her friends accept her and tell her that everything is cool. It’s a wonderfully touching moment.

But not everyone has it so good.

When Beverly's husband, AJ, comes out as Karen, their marriage breaks up. After 22 years of being in what she thought was a happy marriage, Beverly is forced to start a new life on her own. She's also dealing with the fact that one of her kids is transgender. With her divorce pending, amid worrying about the well-being of her trans child, Beverly must find a new place to live and a way to earn a living.

Troy (Lucy) and Cindy.

Beverly's story underscores the maturity of the “Lost in Transition” filmmakers. They realize that when a person comes out as transgender, there's more than one side to the story. Such is the case with Cindy and Troy, who wants to become Lucy. But Cindy isn't happy about the impending transition – she doesn't want to be in a relationship with a woman. Troy is holding off on his transition out of deference to her and resentments escalate on both sides.

"I'm sick and tired of what I want to do pissing everybody off," Troy says angrily, even as he and Cindy admit how much in love they are.

“Lost in Transition” is an exceptionally well-done series, save for the fact that you won’t find any female-to-male experiences here, as there is still less representation and visibility of trans men across most media platforms.

Still, the stories here are told with compassion, heart, fairness and balance. The audience sees the struggle of the transgender person coming out and accepting their truth, as well as the struggles of their families and friends who must accept a new reality.

The episodes unfold in a straightforward manner with a brutal honesty, and viewers may be surprised at the intensity of the challenges trans individuals are forced to deal with, as Leslie had to when she returns to her gun shop job on her second day living as a woman. She faced complaints and ridicule because of her appearance, but stands her ground and gets through the day.

Ultimately, “Lost In Transition” is an educational tool that offers insight into the trans experience through real stories that will, hopefully, earn our trans siblings more broad acceptance from cisgender individuals – LGB or otherwise.

The first season of “Lost in Transition” offers nine episodes and airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. on TLC through mid-July. Full episodes with also be available on TLC GO.

For more information, visit tlc.com.

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