Transgender Television Awards 2014

Transgender Television Awards 2014 – for Programmes aired in



Winners with their Awards!

This is a ‘Best of’ list for United Kingdom Television, and review of the walesuniteyear for 2013. It is based on the Transgender Zone ongoing transgender archives (now 3 decades and counting).

They are based only on transgender issues and how programmes treated participants or spoke about them in their absence.

Every clip we mention we have archived. The most important and influential programmes are those on every day of the year.

Sponsored by: Rona Rees and Transgender Wales Unite!


To prevent any risk of favouritism or cronyism in these awards they are actually decided by the winners themselves. If they deliver excellent trans-positive content then they have a very high chance of winning – it is that simple! We openly publish logs every month, we openly critique programmes, we listen to feedback and opinion across the many trans groups we are affiliated with. We look at the track records of individuals to identify any wrong doing. Then finally shortlist for the media panel to decide. This year chaired by Chief Television Critic Samantha Johnson and the Beaumont Society Media Team. They were subject to change right up to the last minute. We think the final selection are very worthy winners.


Best Channel of 2013

Channel 5

For the third year running Channel 5 has proven again that being transphobic is a state of mind in the producers commissioned to create the content. If you do not commission it or tolerate it then it goes away. Winner of ‘Best Channel’ in 2011 and 2012. Channel 5 have been seen to again handle trans issues very well indeed.

Of course Channel 5 had Celebrity Big Brother 2013 which gave us a re-branded Lauren Harries.

‘The Wright Stuff’ and its present Matthew Wright. Matthew again handled trans stories and negative comments with perfection especially when he could see the risk of a joke from panelists or audience members offending.

Plus Channel 5 tend to show programmes with transactors from CSI with transsexual actress Candis Cayne. Their reruns of films like ‘A Girl Like Me – the Gwen Arajou Story’, when compared to the Film Four cycle of movies like ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ and ‘Breakfast on Pluto’ – even in this Channel 5 win out. They just have a knack for commissioning stuff that made sense in 2013

Richard Desmond (the channel owner) and his commissioning editors just seems to know what the public want. And just avoid (so far) the pitfalls the other channels have slid into. Namely, transphobic content and transphobic comics who when they run out of ideas immediately reach for the trans card.

Well deserved.


Our top six Glassware Trophies for the Best in their class are awarded to:

Best Programme of the Year
Celebrity Big Brother 2013 – Emma Willis

Celebrity Big Brother 2013 gave us a re-branded Lauren Harries – and you can follow her entire timeline in the house here.

Despite the risks (This Morning had banned her until recently for an outburst) of showing Lauren in a bad light she turned out to change hearts and minds in the house and eventually came third. Transgender people always seem to pay-off for Big Brother and many have won the show from Nadia Almada in 2004, Alex Reid, Luke Anderson, and a plethora of other trans contestants have come and gone. Even when there were no transpeople in the house, the show still managed to invite transgender people to their after show ‘Big Brother’s Bit on the Side’ as guests and pundits.

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Emma Willis has gone from strength to strength during her tenure, and has now replaced Brian Dowling as the main host of the show. I hope our positive reviews of her helped her in this. She has also landed a job as a ‘Hub’ host on itv1’s ‘This Morning’, and now the BBC singing show ‘The Voice’ – replacing Holly Willoughby. I feel she may have even helped broker the deal that got Lauren Harries back onto ‘This Morning’ again this time as a antiques valuer . Lauren is entertaining and this showed considerable common sense. There are not that many transpeople in entertainment. So a smart move by itv and one that helped them in their award later!

I still think Lauren and Pete Burns could have a show as a double-act! Big Brother put them together once as red carpet fashion pundits. And to be honest it was hilarious! Better than Joan Rivers. Lauren I feel needs a partner on television, in Big Brother it was in the shape of US Celebrity glamour girl Courtney Stodden. Without her, Lauren would have been a little lost. This I think applies outside the house and pairing her up with another (like Pete) maybe the answer?

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Big Brother has a lot going for it, not least it has a younger audience demographic – one who needs these trans-positive messages and fresh new transgender faces (like Luke Anderson). Celebrity Big Brother was far and away the best programme of 2013. Nowhere else gave 24/7 transgender television broadcast to the nation swamping the press with images and comments to this degree.

Suggestions for next year? Candis Cayne, Laverne Cox or what about glamour trans girl and the Miss Universe controversial contender Jenna Talackova?

As this is in effect a hat-trick for Emma Willis, the glassware is given to her personally this year (for the show and her Bit on the Side slots where she maintained order and a transgender positive defence when abuse reared its ugly head). The award is hers to take home and keep.

Congratulations Emma! And of course the Big Brother Team and Endemol.

Emma, Lauren and Rylan.

Acceptance Speech

Best Presenter of the Year
Matthew Wright

Third year win for Matthew!

This man is unstoppable. He has a Midas touch even when he is having fun with gender roles and cross-dressing. This is a lot harder than it seems. Unlike the panto dame who is employed to mock cross-dressing and often quite transphobic. Matthew prepares very well and thinks the issues through before hand – I think Matthew falls into the ‘total clothing rights’ argument made by Eddie Izzard back in the day. No finer example of this was the Jungle Shower scene, where he stole the lime light away from the expected young female model who no doubt would be soaping herself in slow motion.

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Matthew had prepared well in advance, even having Myleene Klass (who was the original jungle white bikini girl in ‘I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here! itv1) on his show when he returned to actually reenforce the gag a second time live on air! This is quite risky stuff! I cannot imagine Eamonn Holmes doing these things. Matthew is truly a one off! Had he not got this already well established and notable track record with his defence of all things transgender then this could have been seen as mocking transpeople. But this is why we keep records and can reference things properly.

You can read more on Matthew in ‘I’m a Celebrity…’ here.

Matthew is a likeable and (as he admits himself) quite a metrosexual presenter. He is not afraid to have fun with his feminine side, does not take any transphobic nonsense in the newspaper reviews, and most importantly he is a keeper! By this I mean he is not a flash in the pan. He continually delivers good content, and more and more transgender viewers have decided to watch his show knowing they will always get a fair hearing – if they call-in they are treated with dignity and respect. If and when transgender stories break he is a good ally to have. Often negative copy appears in the press – as they can be quite transphobic – Matthew is a very safe pair of hands and one of the best television filters the transgender community has to re-manage these stories to the nation live on air. The Transgender community knows all to well just how much transgender-currency is exploited by the press and media. So to have a major news review show like ‘The Wright Stuff’ every weekday (on Channel Five, UK) to save us from the press, deserves recognition, let alone the fact Matthew is so modern in his approach to all things trans. He makes other similar high budget shows look quite old fashioned at times. Sometimes programmes just need a good presenter!

Matthew is personally presented with the glassware this year for him to keep as it is his third year (and on behalf of Princess Productions ). Very well done to all concerned! The DVR is already set on ‘record series’ for 2014!

Matthew Wright Acceptance Speech!

Acceptance Speech

Best Daytime Programme
This Morning

Always a tough one this, as ITV also has ‘Lorraine’ which is very good – sadly Paul O’Grady and his Gay Licence does often drift into transphobic comments. Alan Titchmarsh had transpeople on his show earlier in the year Luke Anderson and Sarah Savage spoke about the demise of Hayley and that it is now time to hire transpeople for roles. That was positive.


This Morning, dominated daytime, and the sheer numbers of transpeople given a platform to speak are manifold – sadly they are often about negative news stories, but we cannot argue that this show gives them that rare opportunity to set the records straight – something they cannot rely on the press to do. And even promote something at the same time! Nikki Sinclair MEP was just such a person in November 2013 where she not only explained why she outed herself as trans, but also that she had a book about it.

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Nikki Lauren

This deserves recognition. They were also instrumental in assisting young Leo with his need for early intervention and puberty blockers when he appeared on the show in September – he has now got them!

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Leo Jasmine
(Images: itv)

The show as an entity, is more than the sum of its parts. It has Emma Willis (see above). But also Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford who together managed many of the trans stories on their Friday slot. And of course the crowned king of Daytime, Phillip Schoffield. Who has just got better and better. Nobody is perfect, and I can find instances where they all may have slipped up. But this is a live fast moving show. One piece of advice would be to stop saying ‘Sex-Change’ in the guests lower-third title strips that are flashed up. And of course giggling about any cross-dressing reported in the hub!

Well done to the ‘This Morning’ team, Phillip, Holly, Eamonn, Ruth and Emma and the rest of the Hub Team and production crew – keep it up!

This Glassware is awarded to the entire production of the show – not to any individual.


Acceptance Speech

Best Dramatic Performance (Drama)

Laverne Cox, Orange is the New Black

People who read the critical television reviews on know how keen we are to press for more transgender people in dramatic roles, in comedy and mainstream presenting (News, children’s television). Giving the community a tokenistic ‘presenting job’ or a cheap documentary is not good enough, and been done to death. I have many, many terabytes of documentaries sitting in our archives that were not only better than what is broadcast today, but had real money spent on them. These alone exposes the weaknesses in this tokenistic attitude the media have, that they can buy the trans community off with breadcrumbs – they can’t!

Step forward Netflix!

Who saw that coming? I didn’t.

In the wake of the excellent job Candis Cayne has done in ‘Dirty Sexy Money’ and ‘Elementary’ by representing a transperson as a transperson but in a ‘mainstream drama’, it was clear that a trans woman can handle something other than sociopath or third hooker from the right. And Laverne Cox proved that being trans has depth, dignity, emotion, strength, family values and warmth. I was truly concerned when I heard about ‘Orange is the New Black’, as it is a Prison Drama, and being produced outside the ‘normal’ media outlets we are used to, I thought it might be a sleazy hatchet job to get ratings. But my fears were quickly allayed when Laverne walked into shot. An actual tranwoman playing a transwoman. This is just what I was looking for! And then the second fear. Would she be wooden? Would she be embarrassing even? No! Would she be a stereotype? This is likely to include some, but as a African American woman she added an additional dimension that I enjoyed. The flashback scene with her son and wife was very moving, and people who have seen this could not take their eyes of of her! Netflix have shown the BBC and ITV and Channel 4, who are just fiddling while Rome is burning, just what they should be doing. Whilst they faff about, endlessly debating the obvious that could be rectified tomorrow but would rather deliver mostly transphobic content, Netflix gave us this. As a result Netflix have stormed the awards worldwide. So positive!

We told the BBC and Channel 4 many years ago, don’t play catch-up, as someone will beat you to it. They have, and that is a shame! Now they are just playing catch-up with drama! If you want something doing properly, do it yourself – and Netflix showed us how!

Full Review – It goes without saying we did a full review of this here.

The award for Best (International) Dramatic Performance (Drama) is awarded to Laverne Cox for her role as Sophia Burset in ‘Orange is the New Black’. Congratulations to her and I look forward to the next series.

Best Factual/Documentary Programme

Eddie Izzard, Meet the Izzards

What can I says about Eddie Izzard? I have practically everything Eddie has ever done in our archives that include, books Eddie has published. I have his entire series of ‘The Riches’ (Eddie had a gender variant child in that), films and stand-up tours – even all his marathons for Comic Relief. A world-wide comedy genius (I use the word advisedly) and now a potential candidate for Mayor of London. Over the years there has been some disquiet that Eddie was not ‘trans enough’ – ironically from David Walliams. But this is a rather old-fashioned way of looking at how we present as trans people in 2014. Eddie wears heels, make-up, nail varnish, but always puts the trans identify center-stage – even on the intros to programmes…

“Eddie Izzard, Comedian, Actor, Transvestite…and marathon runner extraordinaire…”

Eddie delivered a fine piece of documentary in 2013. It was just beautiful and reminded me of ‘The National Geographic’! But with a fun presenter. The last time anything like this came close was ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ with Michael Palin – I think Michael is one of Eddie’s heroes as a Python, and you can just feel it in this show. Similar style, openness, raised eyebrows at conflict (the production could not even visit Eddie’s birthplace of Yemen) and warmth.

Filmed in two parts: In part one we followed Eddie’s own DNA line 100s of thousands of years from the father’s line and in part two Eddie’s late mother’s line which is always moving as she passed away when Eddie was just a child.

Eddie retraced paternal and maternal ancestors right back to the dawn of humanity. In Africa we saw Eddie’s sensitive side, and whilst painting the nails of the tribeswoman they remarked how feminine Eddie was.

Eddie has always has a great personal warmth that works with tribes in Africa to the O2. I remember Eddie even reinforcing being trans to people when taking a break at the sides of the road when doing the 50 marathons for Comic relief. Being trans is not a PR stunt. In Eddie’s book ‘Dress to Kill’ there is a mention of Yvonne Sinclair – you would not know her unless you were part of that scene in the late 80s.

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The Show ‘Meet the Izzards’ was chosen for an award for one thing, it was ‘beyond trans’. This is quite a difficult thing to get right. Quite often if you put Transgender and Documentary together you almost always get some ‘man and cam’ following a transperson about hoping for tears and or jeers from the street as they walk along it, it is about being trans and that’s kinda been done now!

‘Meet The Izzards’, was about a person who has a trans identity, doing something beyond that. In the same way Eddie acts, or Eddie makes jokes about things other than being trans – although obviously the comic within will touch on those aspects.

Eddie Izzard is a very important member of the trans community, especially on chat shows where there is often transphobia, but rarely when transpeople are present. Few have flown the trans flag to this extent internationally. And it is safe to say that the term ‘National Treasure’ is well deserved.

The award for Best Factual/Documentary is awarded to Eddie Izzard personally for ‘Meet the Izzards’.

For a full review of this programme click here.

Lifetime Achievement – Best Serial Dramatic Performance (Soap)
Julie Hesmondhalgh, Coronation Street.

I first interviewed Julie in 1998, and for the next 15 years I followed her antics closely in the longest running British serial drama, Coronation Street (ITV). I even have her ‘Romanian Holiday’ spin-off DVD that was never broadcast! It was not all plain sailing, and I always felt that Julie needed a little more ‘juice’ in her scripts to demonstrate that she is a great actress. It is therefore a bit of a shame that we had to wait until now for her to open this engaging and powerful side to her character.

Hayley Patterson (as she was then known), turned up as a temporary role as a ‘ratings shocker’. But quickly became a Cobble’s transsexual regular as people warmed to the character, her non-threatening manner, red anorak, brown wig, she was a perfect uniform to be one of the ‘odd couple’, and as such teamed up with Roy Cropper, getting wed and becoming Hayley Cropper.

A pensioner long before her time. There has always been a bit of a split with the transgender community on how she has come across. Some suggest she should have been there for short time and then been replaced by an actual new transgender woman in some other role (well Gayle’s son Nick is not the original Nick! Nor is Tracy Barlow for that matter). Others say she is the most ‘normal’ character in the show and just happens to be trans. The advantages in 98 of casting a cisgender woman for the role were obvious. By being a cis woman in real life, the public were less likely to be ‘traumatised’ by her cuddling her husband. Even the gay men in Coronation Street have to hug a lot, yet everyone else is kissing and making love. ‘Marcia’, a cross-dresser, played by Andrew Hall was probably more authentic in that he could have been an mtf cross-dresser whereas Julie can never be a transsexual woman – in the same way she cannot be an Asian shopkeeper. However, even today the viewers were just not ready for Marcia and the media treated her as a joke. That was a real shame – it shows just how much work remains to be done. Coronation Street scripts have edged on becoming transphobic again. I hope that Julie departing the show will not open the flood-gates and undo her life’s work. Time will tell.

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However, there is little doubt she has been a force for good, and made being trans more ‘normalised’ in the nation’s eyes. Her on-screen presence would have helped during the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

It is therefore fitting that back then in 1998 when she answered all my questions for the Beaumont Magazine (I was a regular columnist), that 15 years on, she is leaving to an award from me, Transgender Zone and the Beaumont Society as this year’s sponsors.

Her final storyline upset a nation, long live her legacy, and good luck to Julie and her future, which is no doubt bright after such a powerful performance. It is just a shame she didn’t get more opportunities to show this side of her character.

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For more on her role as Hayley and the critic’s view click here.

The Lifetime Achievement Award and Best Serial Dramatic Performance (Soap) is awarded to Julie Hesmondhalgh personally (as opposed to the production) for the ‘Hayley Cropper Terminal Illness and exit performance’ .


Julie’s Response


We also take a brief look at the ‘worst of’ here, in the hope they can improve in future.

We will not dwell too much on this but it has to be said.

Worst channel

Channel 4

Sadly this is Channel 4 and it’s network again. No other channel fails so badly week in and week out. There simply is just too much to list so read the logs here. Their biggest problem is comedy! And like the old working men’s club racists, sexists and homophobes, a posh accent (or being gay) and a ‘nice suit’ doesn’t change what is often blatant transphobia being spouted for laughs.

This is all made worse by the promise Channel 4 made here. How can a channel that so boldly boasts of its trendy and diverse history (this year) go so badly wrong? Call me if you need help! I remember them and catalogued those good old days Channel 4 and you are in real trouble atm!

Of course there are a few other problem channels and programmes, ITV2 and BBC Three have issues that need to be resolved.

Roll on 2014!

Special Thanks to the Beaumont Society Media Team for their assistance in these choices.


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