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TV in Transition: New Reality Show Features Transgender Parents

The Short of It

On the heels of the Amazon drama series, "Transparent"—a fictional show starring Jeffrey Tambor as a transgender parent—comes a new "unscripted series" called "Becoming Us." In the ABC Family reality show, 17-year-old Ben Lehwald of Evanstan, Ill., finds out his parents are getting a divorce and his father Charlie is transitioning to become Carly.

The Lowdown

The show, which will air this summer, will tell the family's story mainly through Ben's point of view, but it will also focus on his girlfriend Danielle, whose dad is also transitioning into a woman.

"I want to be able to provide guidance for kids who are going through it," Ben told People. "Maybe this will help them being able to deal with it."

It seems TV shows have begun introducing more transgender characters over the past few years, and viewers are interested:

  • "Transparent" won two Golden Globes, including Best TV Series.
  • Discovery Life will air an unscripted six-part series called "New Girls on the Block" that will start April 2 and will follow transgender women, including one mom.
  • TLC has announced it will air a reality show "All That Jazz" about teen Jazz Jennings, who wrote a children's book about being transgender and who, as we announced in mid March, has landed a Clean & Clear ad campaign.
  • Bruce Jenner also is reportedly working on a documentary series about his transition to become a woman.

The Upshot

While the ultimate goal of these shows is to get viewers to watch, they just may have the potential to get Ben to his goal of helping others through similar situations. And it may help others see that families with transgender members aren't that different from the rest.

"If you have a lot of these programs that start saying being transgender is normal, not something bizarre, then people become much more comfortable coming out and going through gender reassignment procedures and the rest of it," Bob Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Pop Culture at Syracuse University, told Yahoo Parenting. "Pop culture shouldn't get all the credit for this, of course, but it's an important element."

What do you think—will you watch?

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