'Orphan Black's Newest Clone Puts Trans Issues Front & Center Shattering T.V. Gender Norms
Orphan Black pushes many concepts to their logical extreme: human originality, scientific ethics, the capabilities of one (amazing) actress to pull off every look imaginable. Saturday, the show took strides on a new challenging path by including a trans clone. Although the discovery of clones is the organizing principle of the Orphan Black, Tony's reveal was special since he is both a different gender from all other clones.
Tony has undergone sex reassignment surgery and takes hormones, but his transition and life as a trans man is far from the only interesting thing about him. His flirtation and eventual kiss with Felix shows him at his weakest, while he tries to remain strong in the face of clonedom. There were some holes in his origin story, which will need to be taken care of in order to fully flesh out this new clone, instead of relegating him to the ash heap of less-developed Tatiana Maslany characters. But the show has laid the groundwork to make Tony multi-dimensional, where other shows and movies often fall back on trans characters whose identities are based on their gender, or worse, outdated trans stereotypes. (Dallas Buyers Club, I'm looking at you.)
With Tony's fling with Felix and his can-do attitude about being a clone, it's easy to see Tony fitting into the ever-expanding smorgasbord of sestrahood. The creators of the show and Tatiana Maslany thought of the character simultaneously, sealing Tony's fate and showing how inevitable a trans character was on a show that challenges the ideas of gender and biology regularly. Although this episode was action-packed, it's possible that Tony will get more time for backstory and long, hard Felix-loving in subsequent episodes. Once again, Orphan Black has used its sci-fi premise to continue the dialog about trans issues, and hopefully, they'll continue to let Tony steal the show.
Image: BBC America