TRANSform Me—Beauty in the Transgender Community

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We’ve all seen those ridiculous makeover shows where perfectly manicured stylists educate the less fashionable by telling them not to wear grungy, oversized tee shirts, make their little makeover project cry because they’ve “never felt this beautiful before,” and make the audience laugh with snappy remarks about glitter eyeshadow.

TRANSform Meis VH1’s attempt to put their own fresh spin on that overdone makeover show.

But what makes this show different? No, the “Flavor of Love” girls are not directing the makeovers and the “Tool Academy” kids are (unfortunately) not the makeover candidates. The twist is that glam squad consists of three transgender women: Laverne Cox, the main host with pillowy, lacquered lips and a huge weave who specializes in “heart-to-hearts” (aka making girls cry), Jamie Clayton, the quirky redhead who acts as makeup guru, and Nina Poon, who rounds out the trio by acting as the closet-raider.

Armed with blowdryers and flat irons, the glamazons ride around in the glam-bulance (glamorous ambulance?) answering beauty “911 calls” of overplucked eyebrows and baggy sweatpants. In the premiere episode of the 8-episode miniseries, the ladies tackle the challenge of prepping the newly slender Nicole for a girls’ night out.

Frankly, the more interesting story than Nicole getting highlights and being tutored in the art of  “serving it” would be the background stories of the three self-proclaimed “gorgeous visions of feminine beauty.” However, their backgrounds are vaguely brushed over through childhood pictures to leave room for cliché remarks like “OMG Ladies! Nicole lost all that weight and I think she finally found herself!”

To ditch the one-sided glamor of VH1 and see a more candid and honest depiction of the transgender community, check out the truly addicting “TransGeneration” instead. This documentary series that originally aired on the Sundance Channel follows the lives of four transgender college students and allows the viewer to see the unconventional beauty in the transgender community—without the skimpy metallic mini-dresses and 6-inch stilettos.

“TRANSform Me” officially debuts tonight at 10:30 on VH1 but you can watch the premiere episode on now.

About Renee Trilivas

Renee Trilivas (COM '11) is a fashion/film/music writer for the Quad. She also writes a weekly style advice column for College Fashionista. She majors in Magazine Journalism and minors in Italian Language and Culture. Her favorite designers are Rodarte and Chanel. Her favorite bands are The Smiths and Third Eye Blind.

View all posts by Renee Trilivas →

One Comment on “TRANSform Me—Beauty in the Transgender Community”

  1. I was soooo with you, especially after calling out the ‘glambulance’ but then you totally lost me, frankly the only thing this show really has going for it is that it’s not about the backgrounds of the stars. TransGeneration already exists why remake it? Literally every TV show, movie, book, or newspaper/magazine article about trans people is about their background. It goes like this:
    -introduction: so-and-so looks just like a normal man/woman, BUT there’s an unexpected twist!
    -cue shot of adult woman juxtaposed with photo of young boy, or adult man/young girl
    -dramatic/romanticish music while trans woman is putting on makeup/trans man shaving while overvoicing says “as long as I could remember I always felt like a…even though I was born with the body of a…”
    -the transition begins:
    -there’s hardship: some friends/family/employers/etc. don’t
    understand, partners don’t understand if this means that they’re
    gay now, parents never saw any signs, trans person needs do do
    this to feel complete.
    -there’s redemption: after initial shock people in the
    transperson’s life are supportive, trans person begins to feel
    free for the first time
    -climax: surgery is had!
    -postscript: trans person feels whole, everything is ok, transperson is just like a regular man/woman

    It’s not that every transperson’s story is the same, it’s just that every story follows the same basic plot-line, regardless of subject, and our stories aren’t really that interesting.

    Isn’t it time that transgender people are allowed to just be characters, y’know, like normal people? TRANSform Me is far from perfect but at least it’s astep in a new direction.

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