Review: Trans romance story charts exciting new course

Joanna Wagner
LGBT Perspectives TV & Film Critic

SAN FRANCISCO — Her Story is a new YouTube series that explores the intersection of lesbian and transgender cultures. Violet (Jen Richards) and Paige (Angelica Ross) are two transgender women living in L.A. Violet works as a waitress in a bar and best friend Angelica is an attorney for Lambda Legal. An odd couple? Yes, but there are stronger bonds than profession that unite these two women.

The story opens with Violet at the bar while Allie (Laura Zak), a lesbian journalist, and her friends are having a drink. Allie wants to write an article about transgender women, specifically their dating lives; who they date, where they meet people and their relationships. A conversation ensues and her transphobic friend, Lisa (Caroline Whitney Smith), says some nasty things about trans people and discourages her from working on the story. Undaunted, Allie plans to proceed with her article.

Allie has clocked Violet and approaches her about an interview which Violet declines, but by chance they meet again at a café. Vi again declines, but this time Allie gives her a card so she can call if she changes her mind. In the meantime, Angelica is flirting with a hunky guy, James (Christian Ochoa).

Despite being turned off by the dating scene, they trade phone numbers and Angelica soon finds herself on a date with him. The scene in the restaurant is something that really rang true for me. Angelica passes very nicely, but we see her wrestle with the toughest part of a new relationship: revealing your gender history.

Cut to Violet’s home where she is helping her boyfriend, Mark (Josh Wingate), prepare for a business trip. The scene is brief, but it lets the audience know right away that this could be a dangerous relationship for Vi. Mark is very controlling and Wingate does an excellent job of making him menacing. He sees Allie’s card, then after interrogating Violet, wads it up and throws it in the trash. After he leaves, Vi in an act of defiance retrieves it, meets with Allie and a friendship starts to develop. Could there be more? Have Angelica and Violet found their true loves? Watch it and find out!

There are so many things to like about this story. First is the script. These characters are well thought out. The first episode introduces us to the principle characters, all of whom are three dimensional, the heroines are flawed and the bad guys aren’t completely bad. The actors are terrific. The trans women are portrayed by trans actors and their character’s shine. Most of the players and writers are queer.

This is a professional production with most of it shot on location. The actors are professionals and the production is of a quality you would expect on a network TV show.  Each episode leaves you with a desire to find out what happens next.

Transgender folk, we now have our own soap opera! It’s not just the wonderful story that excited me; it’s the new future I can see for shows that feature transgender characters. Most feature films and TV shows are tied up with the struggles of transition and how the trans characters interact with their cis friends and family. This show is by us and for us. The early struggles Violet faced are briefly mentioned, but this story is about life, love and romance. Angelica and Vi fit into the world in believable ways. This story is about relationships between women, friends and lovers, some of whom are transgender.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see more shows like this? The show needs our support if we’re ever to find out if Angelica and Violet can find true love and live happily ever after. You can support the show by watching it, liking their Facebook page and donate when the call for funding comes.

“Her Story could be the new rad-fem soap opera. The characters all work against cliche, exploitation and political correctness. Angelica Ross, who plays the fierce and sexy Paige, says: “Jen and I would see depictions of trans people in shows and could predict the entire storyline of a character based on stereotypes.” – Eve Ensler, The Guardian.


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