Tears, Tiaras and Transsexuals Review: Boys Don’t Cry

June 17, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

TRANTASIA+takes+Times+Square300x210TRANSTASIA – TEARS, TIARAS AND TRANSSEXUALS: Wednesday 17th June, Channel 4, 11.10pm Alert Me

“When I was just a little boy, I asked my mother, “What will I be??? goes the wry introduction to Trantasia: Tears, Tiaras & Transsexuals.

Don’t let the title fool you, it’s not car-crash telly intended for voyeuristic rubberneckers, it’s a heartfelt look at the people behind the plastic surgery and hormone treatment at the Most Beautiful Transsexual in the World Beauty Pageant.

The competition is hosted by Jahna Steel, a transsexual and former Las Vegas showgirl of the year. She looks like a cross between Joan Rivers and Pete Burns with the flamboyance and wit of both, but doesn’t immediately do anything to dispel any preconceptions as she doesn’t look particularly feminine but cartoonishly unreal.

The myth that transsexuals can’t be beautiful completely evaporates as soon as you see Mimi, who not only passes for a woman but is actually stunningly gorgeous – you could be told that she’d stepped right off a Dynasty film set or and 80s catwalk runway and you wouldn’t bat an eyelid. Others are similarly impressive; Cezanne (a tall Paula Abdul), Maria (a slightly larger Laura Harring) and Cassandra (the very avatar of confidence) are all charming and individual.

There’s some conflict between those who want to be seen and accepted as real women such as the unobtrusive, classy Marie and those that do nothing for subtlety, such as the bobble-headed, boob-flashing Delilah, who fluffs her hair every three seconds and puts you in mind of an overly-camp gay man playing a woman in pantomime.

The documentary delves deeper with a few of the contestants, interviewing them and their families in their home towns. It’s remarkable viewing: family members not just accepting them but in some cases visibly beaming with pride. It makes it feel that there’s nothing out of ordinary about them at all, that they’re loved for the person they are rather than the way they look.

Sing it with me now, “Heal the world, make it a better place…?

Come the day of the pageant, you’ll be so wrapped up in the characters you’ve met, you’ll be on the edge of your seat willing your favourite to win.

It’s so engaging that you stop thinking of them as transsexuals and just start thinking of them as people, with the same charms and foibles as everyone else. As Cassandra says, “I don’t want my life to be all about being a transsexual. I’m Cassandra. I’m a human being?.

Touching in a way you never expected.

And not like that you pervert.

Jez Sands


If you’re in the mood for some other luvvy luvvy darling, feel-good pick-me-up, then grab a gander at our review of Sounds Like Teen Spirit. Like the above, only with Eurovision and (ironically) less camp.

Erin says:

This programme was very offensive to a lot of transgendered people. Its yet another look at the most extreme and unrepresentative portion of the trans comunity and it does nothing to show people that there is a difference between a crossdresser, a drag queen and a transexual. There were a couple of nice moments but it was so buried under the trashy-fakeness of it all I ended up feeling betrayed and angry. Watch My Transexual Summer, its a lot closer to the mark than this disgusting attempt to make transgendered people into a cheap freak show.

my name is laura and im 15. as soon as i seen the ad for this documentary on channel 4, i noticed the girl at the end, she had red lipstick and was smoking. im not a lesbian, but i think thats one of the hottest women ive ever seen ! and its hard to believe shes a man behind all the hormone injections and plastic surgery. i really didnt know what it was like for a young child to have such a strong desire to be the opposite sex, but after watchin that i have a new found respect for transsexuals and i will never call them ‘trannys’ again. to me, they are some of the braest women around.