This former favourite sitcom of many Jamaicans in the seventies through to the eighties with 'The Jeffersons' with some re-runs on local TV containing its catchy ode "We're Movin On Up" in an episode entitled 'Just A Friend from the fourth season was groundbreaking in many respects. It's the first time that an African descended transwoman character was shown on TV who didn't fit the stereotypes we all know and loathe in the world on record as is expected by some transwomen or sex reassignment patients are to have remaining features of their previous gender to point out and or critique that something was wrong with their look.
African-American transgender characters are not a new phenomenon. They've been on television for a while and you can probably consider Flip Wilson's Geraldine Jones as the first one. On Thursday nights from 1970 to 1974 I would tune in to The Flip Wilson Show si that I could see the latest antics of the sassy wise-cracking Geraldine. I loved to see her utter her famous line 'what you see is what you get' and professing her love for her boyfriend 'Killer'.
Interestingly enough one of the shows that was on opposite Flip was All In The Family, which had the Beverly LaSalle character on for three episodes. That episode was groundbreaking at the time in terms of the accurately depiction of some of the emotions that transpeople deal with when Edie was explaining her transition. It shouldn't have been a surprise to me since it was a Norman Lear produced show and a spinoff from All In the Family. They were aware of the issues thanks to the Beverly LaSalle episodes. It was just the first time it was done with an African-American character.
This was another enlightened step in American entertainment if one were to look at it as this was before the Cosby takeover where very few shows in Prime Time had all out African descented characters who were upwardly moving and not stupid looking or acting like previous dispensations. Also most transwoman or sex changed subject matter could have been found in the Caucasian mainstream shows.
It was also broadcast in 1977.
Here are some scenes:
Louise realizes it is George's best friend as Edit reveals the specific way she (Louise) ends her letters to George while they were in the army. Edie was played by Young and the Restless actress Veronica Redd.
Leading Transgender blogger Monica Roberts from the United States commented on her blog TransGriot that "While I didn't care for the part where he tried to pass off Leroy as Edie, for the most part the episode is on point. You also have to remember at the time 'The Jeffersons' was a Top 10 rated show that many African-American homes watched. So if they weren't aware of the trans issue affecting African descended people, they were after that broadcast."
Did you know that Sheryl Lee Ralph has been credited for also portraying a more realistic trans character where she played a post-operative woman named Claire in the short lived Amercian television series Barbershop.
Peace and tolerance