ABC Family Proudly Announces 'Transgender Docu-series' with Ryan Seacrest Productions

December 12th, 2014 9:34 PM

This headline is a bit amazing: “ABC Family Orders Transgender Docuseries Produced by Ryan Seacrest.” Pat Robertson sold his Family Channel to Fox in 1997, and Disney acquired it in 2001. Now Disney is taking it in an entirely different direction. In 2011, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) announced that ABC Family was the most pro-gay network of the ten networks it reported on. In the summer of 2013 came The Fosters, their lesbian-parent drama.

Now comes a real-life show called My Transparent Life, centered “on a teen named Ben who learns his parents are not only getting a divorce, but also that his father is becoming a woman.” The Hollywood Reporter explained:

The series will intimately follow Ben, his family and friends as they support each other through the unexpected journey and watch Charlie slowly become Carly, as she experiences the many stages of her transition from male to female. The show is described as a generational story of a loving family and circle of friends, supporting each other through the unfamiliar and unexpected situation.

"ABC Family is best known for its complex, loving and relatable family programming, and we are so proud to partner with Ryan Seacrest Productions to share Ben's incredible real-life story," said ABC Family president Tom Ascheim. "While Ben's family situation is unusual, the themes and coming-of-age issues are universal, and we think our viewers will find a real connection to them."

The title seems like a play on the fictional Amazon series Transparent, which follows a fictional "trans woman" with adult children.

Seacrest added “we couldn’t be more excited that ABC Family is helping us share this heartwarming story of how an ordinary teenager grapples with a challenging and unexpected family situation...We feel audiences will find Ben’s story relatable on a number of different levels, because at the end of the day, family is family unconditionally." (Emphasis in the original.)

There’s a whole transgender-promotional wave of documentary programs coming to cable TV:

HBO is also teaming with exec producer Lena Dunham for a documentary about the transgender clients of a bespoke Brooklyn tailor. Not to be outdone, MTV has Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word, a documentary about seven transgender youths as well as scripted comedy Faking It, which features one of primetime's first intersex characters. Meanwhile, corporate sibling VH1 has enlisted Tyra Banks to produce a transgender docuseries called TransAmerica, which chronicles eight transgender millennial women.

On Sunday, Univision and the Pivot network will air Crossing Over: Stories of Immigration and Identity, which will follow three "trans women" who left Mexico to make new lives in a new gender in Los Angeles. It will air in Spanish on Univision and in English on Pivot. This documentary is one in a series of eight documentaries for these two channels called Panoramica, hosted by America Ferrera, best known as the title character in ABC’s series Ugly Betty.