Laura Jane Grace's 'So Much More' Will Be Another Landmark Show for the Trans Community
When Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender (back when she was known as Tom Gabel), she was brave enough to share her struggle with her gender identity and became an icon for the trans community. Now, AOL is giving Laura Jane Grace her own reality show documenting not only her transition, but the experience of others in the trans* community.
Called So Much More, the show will follow Grace as she navigates her transition while on tour for the latest Against Me! album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Along the way, Grace will meet other gender-variant people going through different parts of their transition. The series is one of 16 new shows to debut on AOL, and the company says that they created So Much More to represent others "whose experiences are woefully underrepresented and misunderstood in the media."
It's important, because historically, television shows that take a look into the lives of transgender people are few and far between: Degrassi, Nip/Tuck, Ugly Betty did, but that's about it. More frequently, though, transgender characters are either used as the punchline to a offensive joke (usually to shame a straight man sexually), or given a "special topic" episode that explores the struggles of transgender people for one episode and nothing more. There's always been an absence of transgender characters on television, especially on big networks, and fixing this disparity is especially important not only to give the trans* community someone to relate to, not only to bring trans* issues to the forefront, but because every real, heartfelt portrayal of a trans* person helps fight offensive trans* stereotypes that clutter our television screens (remember Work It?).
Fortunately, a lot of people have been making inroads to more realistic portrayals of trans* people on television. Orange Is the New Black is the most visible example. And OITNB star Laverne Cox has continued to create more good things for the trans* community: she's producing and hosting a new documentary show, Trans Teen: The Documentary, which will focus on the struggles of four trans* teenagers and debut on LOGO and MTV. Former transgender contestants of RuPaul's Drag Race, Carmen Carrera and Monica Beverly Hillz, have spoken out on trans* issues on the show. Specifically, Carrera has been a vocal advocate for the trans* community, appearing on talk shows and advocating for better depictions of transgender people in all media.
So while realistic transgender characters still have a long way to go on network television, slowly but surely, they're getting there. Visible advocates for the community like Laura Jane Grace, Laverne Cox, and Carmen Carrera are showing that the struggles and experiences of transgender people need and deserve media attention. And hopefully, So Much More will show people that there is so many more of these kinds of stories that need to be told.