‘Queer Eye’ Episode Hardly Touches On Transgender Issues

Credit: Shannon O'Rourke, Woody Woodbeck, Elis Ortiz

Meleah York, Editor-in-Chief

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The internet is raving about the new Netflix original series Queer Eye, in which five gay men make over the lives of men who have let themselves go on the aspects of hygiene, social life, healthy eating, fashion, and home decor/clutter.

The first season of the show proved to be emotional and extremely heartfelt. The Fab Five connected with their subjects in multiple different ways and changed their lives for the better. It’s really astonishing to see how much a haircut or wardrobe change can impact these subjects, improving their home and social lives.

Queer Eye was renewed for a second season, which premiered this past June, but one landmark episode centered around the Fab Five’s first transgender man to make over. Skylar Jay, a queer activist and college student, had just gotten top surgery (a surgery for female to male transgender folks to flatten their chest) and spent his days wearing baggy shorts, tank tops, and mismatched clothing.

When the Fab Five set out to make over Skylar, there were definitely undefined boundaries as well as the lack of education that made it difficult to empathize and truly understand Skylar’s gender dysphoria (discomfort with his physical body).

The experience was much more of a learning session for the Fab Five, and the episode glossed over or ignored fundamental trans issues, such as healthcare and harassment, providing a very basic overview of the transgender experience.

This a prime example of many people, regardless of sexuality, not really understanding what it means to be a transgender individual. Even five gay men, who are immersed in LGBTQ+ culture, couldn’t really understand Skylar’s dependency on the little facial hair he was able to grow through hormone replacement therapy.

Some basic terminology to understand is the meaning of cisgender. To be cisgender means to have a physical body that matches your gender identity, which you feel inside your brain.

You don’t think really hard to be a girl or a boy, you just are.

Transgender means that the body you were born in doesn’t match up with your gender identity. Many transgender individuals choose to go through with surgeries that can manipulate their body to match how they feel inside their brain.

What Queer Eye failed to cover in this episode was the difficulty of healthcare as a trans individual, and the blatant transphobia driving hateful people to attack trans people. A big example, the dozens of trans women of color being murdered every month across the United States.

It’s issues like these that needed to be brought into light, in addition to the resourcefulness of using a gender neutral suiting company to help fit Skylar into a good suit. This episode covered the surface of being transgender, but hardly delved into the struggles that are faced and how trans people are still fighting to be seen and heard even in the LGBTQ+ community.

Rather than painting this broad picture, trans issues need to be a large focus of episodes such as this. If the Fab Five isn’t up-to-date on trans education, then their audience sure as heck isn’t either.

Using these storylines needs to be a bridge to educate as large of an audience as Queer Eye has, because the small moments that the transgender community gets to be at the forefront of conversation needs to be utilized to the fullest.