COMMENT: MTV’s Catfish normalises Transgender relationships

Opinions are author’s own

A brand new Tuesday brings a new episode of MTV show CatfishFor those of you who don’t know, it’s a documentary style program that follows Nev Schulman and Max Joseph, as they try and help couples, which have found love online connect in real life.

The show is now in it’s fourth season and episode 8 brought forward the story of Jamey and Ari. The pair both lived in Houston and met on a dating site called “Plenty of Fish.” It wasn’t long before they exchanged phone numbers and began texting and talking on the phone.

Ari then told Jamey that she has been keeping something from him, and that it would be best if they met through Catfish.  

Originally, Nev and Max believed Ari was married but when they meet, Ari explained that she is transgender and is currently going through the transitioning process. Max stated that transitioning is really expensive and Ari replied with a smile, “There’s no price on happiness.”

 

I honestly expected Jamey to lose his temper after being informed of this. He seems like the typical bloke, although a little shy. Though, when he meets Ari, he shakes her hand and pulls her into a hug. After, Ari refused to talk any more about who she is and ran away. The two decided that it would be best if they just remained friends but still communicate.

The episode was important because it normalised the relationships that male-to -female transgenders have with men. Ari had already been in relationships before her one with Jamey. It came across to me, more than anything, that it wasn’t that Ari was transgender, that the relationship wasn’t going to work out but because she wasn’t upfront about who she was (and who she now is)..

Of course, if this was a perfect world, the two would still be together. Ari was heartbroken, understandably, but says that “being friends isn’t really a loss, it’s a gain but in a different perspective.”

I believe, despite the unfortunate ending, the episode handled the situation really well. Between October 2013 and September 2014 more than 200 transgender people were murdered worldwide. This is only if reported and if the true gender identity of the person is known. This illustrates the dangerous situation that these people are in, because some portions of society still don’t understand what being transgender means, or are afraid of it – something which they definitely shouldn’t be.

Throughout the episode, Nev and Max are constantly reminding Jamey that Ari isn’t only going on a television show, but that she is revealing to the world who she really is. That is absolutely terrifying for anyone. The focus was on the bravery of Ari for being open about who she is, a woman of colour. It was not about the relationship.

Before the camera goes black on this episode, Nev and Max deliver an important message to viewers, “Transgender women like Ari are real women and are not deceiving anyone when they state this. Telling people you are transgender is a decision you have to make for yourself and it isn’t something that all transgender people can or have to do. Ari chose to tell Jamey on her own terms on our show,” says Nev.

Max continues this message by saying, “While we know that plenty of guys have great relationships with transgender women, too often transgender women find themselves in dangerous or violent situations because of how people react when they discover that they’re transgender.”

Although practices have been questioned before, normalising transgender people, and their relationships, is so important and I believe Catfish did such an outstanding job of this on Tuesday night.

This article was published here in 2015.

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