Guest Post-“Remember that you deserve this”: Hilarious RadFem Play-By-Play of VH1’s ‘TRANSform Me’

June 22, 2013

TRANSform me is a “reality show”. The premise? “Premise: A female contestant is given an internal and external makeover by a team of three transgender women stylists.”

transformme108-vh100006

Phaea’s submission

Guest Post by Moira:

A hipster girl from Brooklyn, Phaea, is about to get engaged. She’s having a party in a few days and feeling insecure because she doesn’t know how to have the kind of style she wants. Her mom was a hippie and never taught her to do makeup or do her hair or wear heels. She sent in a plea for a makeover to this show.

Play by play:

 

1.52 The transwomen arrive. Laverne grabs Phaea’s loose t-shirt. “Is this what you always wear”” Phaea says it’s a typical hanging around the house outfit. Laverne asks Phaea’s boyfriend Justin if this outfit turns him on. Not really, he says.

2.00 Laverne says that as transgender women they are uniquely qualified to “take the woman inside and bring her out.” Confusing being a woman with aesthetic choices? Charming, already.

3.15 Phaea: “I can’t imagine walking around in high heels.” Laverne, “Why can’t you?” She sounds sharp, almost offended. She thinks this is a requirement, non-negotiable.

3.38 Back at the apartment the backup trans women are going through Phaea’s things; one is tossing clothes out of her closet. Jeans and t-shirts, and “grandma sweaters” are heaped on the floor. “Boy stuff? Eww!” she says. What if someone had done the same to her closet, pre-transition, I wonder. How would she have felt if someone took her “girl stuff” and said “Eww!” and tossed it out?

3.55 “All that’s gotta go. Not in a female closet! Especially not in a female living in the 21st century.” My irony-meter just short circuited. The trans woman stomps on the offending clothes with her high heels on.

4.23 Laverne asks Phaea if she feels sexy. She says no; she says she has a friend who says boys love her underwear. Phaea says she asked Justin if he even noticed her underwear; he said he didn’t, then paused and said, “but you don’t have really great underwear.” Phaea says, “Oh god! I felt like such a failure.” Yes. A failure to have every minute aspect of your life dictated by a fetishized, porn-informed male gaze. What is the primary function of underwear? Is it to excite men? Is it to keep your tender bits clean and away from friction? Sorry, I was confused for a minute.

4.34 Redheaded trans woman asks Justin if Phaea ever “sexes it up for him” in “a sexy little, you know…do a little…” and she does a stripper move. No, says Justin. The trans women act outraged and then go through Phaea’s underwear, mocking it for not being lingerie.

6.00 They take off in an ambulance because apparently this is a fashion (or cultural?) emergency. A woman is about to get married to a man and she doesn’t own lingerie or strip for him! THE HORROR!

6.16 At a boutique, they measure Phaea’s bust. One trans woman says, “Look at you! This is what I wished for when I was born!” Because having boobs means wearing ridiculous clothes. Didn’t you know? And because this trans woman is jealous of your body, you have to objectify it the way she would do. Because you owe it to her. Because it’s more hers than yours. Because she would use it “correctly.”

6.36 One of the backup trans women: “I changed myself from this wimpy, introverted boy to this, like, hot sexy luscious mama. And if I can make myself look like this, I am sure I can make a ton of women–a TON of women–look like the women they should be.” The women they SHOULD BE? Really? Do tell. How very transgressive.

7.24 More of the measuring. “Boobie time! 35 and a half–perfect. Let’s see if you have man shoulders or not.” She doesn’t. They measure her hips too. “36 and a half. Look at you!” Approval. Sure. What’s the song? 36, 24, 36. They admonish her–”This is what I wished for when I was born and you’re just hiding yours! You’re not showing it–you gotta work it!” Because being born female means you gotta “show it.” It’s. Not. For. Men. This is so crazy. These are probably homosexual transwomen, who should have no dog in this fight–why does it matter to them if a woman conforms to the straight male gaze? Oh. Because in some way they still understand her body as belonging more to them than to herself.

Phaea tries on some clothes. She tries a blouse and skirt that she says she loves–she feels good in it. But one of the trans women doesn’t love it so she starts over.

8.31 Phaea tries on a flowy bronze dress–she says it makes her feel really, really good about her body and she feels very comfortable in it, whereupon the Laverne rejects it because it can’t be worn with a bra. Not painful enough!

9.32 Phaea tries on heels. She totters. They stop her and tell her she walks like a dude.

10.04 Backup trans woman Nina: “What dude looks sexy in heels? Except…” jazz hands at self..”Well, I wouldn’t call myself a dude, but…you know…” Yes, yes I do.

10.18 They teach her a “feminine” walk. She falls, gasps, “It hurts so much!” Redheaded backup trans woman Jamie snottily remarks that *she* never had so much trouble learning to walk in heels. They tell her she has to walk with a beat in her head, and shake her ass and hips. Turns out that walking is another one of those daily activities, like wearing underwear, which must now be undertaken with men in mind. So silly! I thought it was for physical mobility.

the nigel who thinks a tranny makeover is relevant to his lifelong commitment to a woman

the nigel who thinks a tranny makeover is relevant to his lifelong commitment to a woman

11.08 Laverne tears up thinking about Phaea wearing heels to her engagement party.

12.34 Phaea says she feels sexy when she’s with her boyfriend because of the way he looks at her and treats her, but on her own, she doesn’t feel “sexy.” The transwoman tells her that she needs to stop relying on her boyfriend for that feeling and it should come from within; that they’re going to do a burlesque photo shoot to “empower” her. Phaea starts crying and says she feels terrified and doesn’t even know why. Pressed, she says she is afraid she will look stupid.

There’s a lot going on here. First of all, Phaea, like every other female, has been indoctrinated from birth into compulsory heterosexuality and told that “her” sexuality doesn’t exist outside of the need to please men and be fodder for the male gaze. But apparently her mom tried to counteract this somewhat in her upbringing. So she has what’s arguably a healthier relationship to herself as a sexual being. She only notices feeling “sexy” when being intimate with her lover. She apparently doesn’t live in a constant state of sexualizing her body, but experiences herself as being sexually attractive pretty much just within the purview of times when she is actually being intimate. However, women in Phaea’s culture who don’t live in a constant state of hypersexualizing themselves are made to feel that they are failing at being “women.” That there is something wrong with them. Because they’re succeeding at being human, and indeed this puts them outside of the mainstream to a large and potentially alienating degree.

The stated goal–to make Phaea “feel sexy” all the time–is the wrong goal. Perhaps this is a source of Phaea’s terror; she feels she may be on the precipice of losing important ground. Perhaps she senses it will be dehumanizing.

Also, we have to consider why the scripted formula for what is supposed to make us “feel sexy,” looks curiously identical to a porn-inflected, fetishizing male gaze. Lingerie is someone’s idea of sexy, but certainly not everyone’s. What is Phaea’s idea of sexy? She’s trying to understand, but she’s being shut down–and perhaps this is also a source of Phaea’s terror. Instead of exploring her own erotics, she’s being told what they should be. She’s being told by someone who stands in as a transgressive figure–someone who is outside of traditional sex/gender roles–so perhaps she believed that this person might be open, experimental, and exploratory in their approach. Instead, the “transgressive” figure reinforces the stereotypical “sexy” template in the most unequivocal manner possible.

13:27 YES!! Signs of life from Phaea!! She’s in garters and fishnets but she’s shut herself in a bathroom. When they come to “check on her” she says this doesn’t feel how she wanted it to, how she imagined it would. Laverne snickers at her and tells her that a lot of people find garters and fishnets sexy–essentially, implying something is wrong with her if she doesn’t. But Phaea says something like, “It would be nice to feel *actually* sexy and not sort of fake, play sexy.” (!!!) How difficult it must have been for her to halt this production and speak this truth. And of course, a trans person should be the first to understand when the culturally-defined markers for her gender just aren’t what feels right for her–right? NO! ARGH! The trans woman gives her some incomprehensible speech about how when she transitioned she was expressing on the outside what she always felt on the inside. She gestures at the garters and says that Phaea’s body is just a shell–that she has to connect with herself on the inside first. What?! She has to internalize this image of herself as some tarted up porn star before it will “feel sexy” to her? Maybe Phaea can tell the trans woman that she needed to wear the butchest clothes she could until she really felt sexy as a man *inside* and see how she likes it. But no, the red-eyed-from-crying Phaea (surrounded by the trans women and the camera crews and whatever other reality show offstage people) lets herself be led to the boudoir for a photo shoot instead. With a male photographer of course. I might lose my lunch.

before and after tranny (adds ten years!)

before and after tranny (adds ten years!)

Phaea puts a game face on, complies, smiles and poses, making “sultry” faces–but you can see it’s put on. What speech did she get offscreen about holding up production? Who knows. Laverne and her backups practice lots of operant conditioning, encouraging her to ham it up by clapping and cheering. Is the the “actually sexy” feeling Phaea had hoped for? Does that feeling come from being (un)dressed like this and looked at by near-strangers and photographed? She keeps saying no–and they keep not listening. So she “lays back and tries to enjoy it?”

15:40 or thereabouts. Phaea’s going for a haircut. Much less loaded. Still, the disconnect is palpable. Phaea says how she loves her hair, but her hair is so thick she never know what to do with it and feels like a Ramone. Jamie explains to her that her problem was her hair being layered so that it was too *thin* and there was “basically nothing there.” It’s *almost* like they have to contradict, disorient and destroy her entire self-concept and install themselves as the arbiters of her reality instead.

20.18 Laverne: “The most important thing is that she continues to remember that she deserves it.” Oh yeah. I’m sure our culture will never let her forget that this is what she “deserves.”

Watch the horror here: http://www.vh1.com/video/transform-me/full-episodes/phaea-episode-8/1638069/playlist.jhtm
l

510x340

lipstick and, errr… bathroom tiles? mirror ball?

[photos and captions added by me-GM]

37 Responses to “Guest Post-“Remember that you deserve this”: Hilarious RadFem Play-By-Play of VH1’s ‘TRANSform Me’”

  1. farishcunning Says:

    OMG, Moira, this is horrifying. Thanks for the play-by-play; no way could I actually watch this rapetastic thing.

    What a beautiful woman, being assaulted by a band of trannies. She is quite simply being erased by these porny males, emblematic of women in general, and replaced by what they want to see.

    My heart breaks.

  2. Ashland Avenue Says:

    This is abusive and sick. I want to find Phaea and tell her she was right about everything, and then kick her fiancé in the nuts – hard – for going along with this.

    And, like I said in the last thread, let’s all sit back and watch the funfem blogs not say a fucking word about this, for fear of hurting the trannies’ feelings. ‘Cause dog forbid, such a conversation might bring up some of the blatant misogyny so often found with trans people. Can’t have that.

    I just thought of something else – you know how a lot of trans people refer to themselves as “CAMAB” or “CAFAB” (“coercively assigned male/female at birth”, like there was a big conspiracy in the delivery room or something)? This, THIS is coercive. It fits the definition to a T (har, irony there!):

    1: to restrain or dominate by force

    2: to compel to an act or choice

    3: to achieve by force or threat

    Thanks for this post, Moira. This show deserves to be sanitized by sunlight.

  3. Bluecat Says:

    Looking forwards to a future where every woman dresses and behaves like a female impersonator c1954…


    • Evil satanic zionists and you are soooo negative and devisive…poor sad dinosaurs! LOVE is the way. Not your disinformation, pure IGNOR ance….Learn to DANCE. OM NATARAJ/ARDHANISHWARA……Peace be upon you . 786.

      • Motherhood Says:

        OMG here you are again Mister Stephani–hey dude you’re all tanked up on female hormones and you could swallow fists full you are still a man bro’ and your life is your dick. You hate women and Jews, that is a nice combo–you my friend are some not too bright piece of trash, a Jimbo cracker that likes to cross dress. Oh how very special. hahaha fricken pathetic–you get off prancing around like the guy in Silence of The Lambs–that’s all you are. Think about it from our perpective– a dude starts ozzing pre cum from cross dressing–and women vomit into their mouths. Get the picture? Well keep in mind if you think you look like shit now–flash forward. No sir it does not age well. Do you have those really weird and ugly man nipples? shivers.

      • Versa Says:

        No, Stefani LOVES women and Jews. Because Stefani proclaims that LOVE is the way. And LOVING people means calling them evil Satanists, dinosaurs, and ignorant. That’s obviously a very LOVING way to approach people.

      • Versa Says:

        What the hell just happened? Was that a drive-by gumming?

    • slightly terfy Says:

      in the future, there will be “women” (a.k.a. pornified handmaidens of the patriarchy and fuckmeat for men) and “ugly lezzies” (a.k.a. women who are capable of thinking for themselves and don’t buy into that shit). I fear this future is very near already:/

  4. kfb3 Says:

    oh my god…the word horrifying does not even *begin* to describe this. What’s next, do they instruct her how to have an eating disorder and how to start cutting when she feels bad????
    I was so glad that I went to a fantastic gay-themed play (set of 12 short plays) last weekend. It was so refreshing to see swishy gay MEN not being ashamed of themselves and lesbians being butch, femme or whatever without questioning their sex. Thankfully there was only one trans*-themed short. I’ll let you guess which short was incomprehensible, disorganized and not received well by the audience.

  5. Ave Says:

    @ 12:34 I really liked her description/criticism of the whole “sexy” (i.e. sex object) obsession in culture, it’s so true.
    And to think all of it is done….just to get with those balding average guys that don’t do anything at all to be sexy themselves.

    • Ashland Avenue Says:

      Right?! What’s so special about that baldy in his dowdy brown sweater? What’s he doing to “fix” himself up? Let me guess – he thinks he doesn’t need fixing. Only she needs “fixing.”

      Prick incarnate.

  6. FeistyAmazon Says:

    Men telling women how to be women! I can’t watch the video. I don’t want to see one more woman, naturally HERSELF being told by men imitating women getting a woman to imitate the way THEY artificially see womanhood. In so many videos and interactions I’ve had and seen with MTF’s, they are so artificial, so superficial and so hypersexualized in their ‘female’ presentations, most of them.

    What they REALLY hate is a Butch Lesbian who wouldn’t have ANY of their nonsense, and maybe that’s why they torment this woman so, and don’t even let her pick out her OWN styles that make her feel powerful and comfortable. HORRIBLE. Cuz the worst thing you could possibly be in relation to their worship at the altar of femininity cuz they will NEVER be Female, is a Butch Lesbian! And it sounds like this woman is a little bit butchy/tomboyish and of course that’s NOT ok!
    -FeistyAmazon

  7. femingen Says:

    Damn, this is just heartbreaking.

  8. jillian Says:

    Very happy to see this crap only lasted one season.

  9. SheilaG Says:

    Average balding guy— he does nothing. Average men looking like slogs with women all dressed to the nines…. heteronormative nightmare machine. Ugh, I won’t watch the video I’m so sick of these female impersonators!

  10. Diana Says:

    I’m trans* myself and I find this fucking horrifying! I hope the whole show gets cancelled!

  11. Versa Says:

    Excellent analysis, Moira. Thank you.

  12. moira Says:

    Thanks to you all for your responses, and thank you Gallus for letting me share here. It feels amazing to be able to. I felt so crazy watching this and knowing that most of the otherwise kind, reasonable people I know would be oblivious to the striking, obvious violence in this show.

  13. Bev Jo Says:

    Great expose, but very important to remember that no “transwomen” are involved since they don’t exist. It’s just men, as usual, telling women how to look, and the worst kind of men — those who appropriate female identity.


  14. UGH, this woman is MARRYING that sad little puke?! UGH UGH UGH!!!!! PHAEA, DON’T DO IT!!! RUN FOR THE HILLS!!

    Everything about how sadistic and objectifying this all is has pretty much been said. Men truly hate women.

  15. liberalsareinsane Says:

    Trannies are nothing but wannabe porn stars. They’re disgusting inside and out!! The “makeover” resulting in adding 10 years is so true. She looked better before.

  16. Chocolattruffaut Says:

    But but but according to ultrafeminist website Jezebel, the only problem with this show is that they’re making over boring “cis” women. It would be like super interesting to see transwomen teach other transwomen how to walk, talk, and use make up like “real” women.
    http://jezebel.com/5486685/transform-me-television-tackles-gender-identity-with-makeovers-yay

    • Ashland Avenue Says:

      Aaaaaand here we have it. Not a word spoken in that post about the violence done to this woman – only a quote from Jill at Feministe worrying instead about how the trans will be portrayed, and others falling all over themselves to diss Da Evul “Ciswomen.”

      Well done, leading “feminist” commentariat! Keep sucking that patriarchal cock! Whoo hoo!

      • Chocolattruffaut Says:

        “Keep sucking that patriarchal cock!”
        I’m kind of in love with this line!

        Also, I find it interesting that they’re worried about stereotypes about transwomen on tv, considering even on shows like Jerry Springer almost all the transwomen refer to themselves at one point as men. If the stereotype is that transwomen are just pretending to be women, why are most transwomen on daytime tv saying out right that they’re men?

        Don’t even get me started on their spiel about how changing around the dynamics about makeover shows is transgressive. You can’t dismantle the master’s house with his tools, not even if you hold a hammer upside down and call it a screwdriver.

  17. Ashland Avenue Says:

    Phaea looks awesome in that picture at top. I really want to smack her fiancé.

  18. Motherhood Says:

    My head was spinning. This was beyond words, deeply insidious. Three men all so helpful so caring and all knowing going to provide a woman with her center of power. This made The Stepford Wives look benign because at lest in the movie they killed the women. In this she gets to be put in a social coma and then abused and molested and we are told that this is to make her “a better women.” It was like watching a large predatory animal toy with his prey.

    I come from a family where some women wore a lot of cosmetics. I never did before a certain age but my relatives understood that it was a public signal of compliance. It was a kind of social manipulation that I think they understood. They choose to be seen as compliant because they had shrewdness. I remember the make up got very heavy when one went to the doctor—and she was not young. I asked her why do you get all dolled up to go to the doctor. And she said, it is harder for men to cause physical pain to a woman they think is attractive or one they think imagines herself as attractive. There maybe some truth to that. In which case it was a defense strategy not to look pretty for men.

  19. Ave Says:

    ha, so I finally got round to watching a bit of the video. You can totally tell that bald guy wants to blow the “transwomen” so bad. Of course, he’d have to tell them he thinks they’re women if he ever wanted a chance to get with them. It’s a ladystick not a cock mind you and it’s totally hetero bro

  20. 1899fcbarcelona Says:

    They should have cancelled that crap. I personally did not know that show even existed ’til now. Who would’ve thought…women are not put on earth to serve men. I know it’s shocking but women can do as they dam near please!

  21. 1899fcbarcelona Says:

    Gallus (I hope I spelt your name correctly)

    Now little boys are allowed to use the same restrooms with girls!

    http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/transgender-girl-wins-right-to-use-bathroom-at-public-school-183951487.html

  22. EricaWIP33 Says:

    Not sure why any woman, cis or trans, would put themselves through that! I mean, style is not something other women, no matter who they are, can teach you. I have my own style, which I honed over years of learning who I was, and who I wanted the world to see. Sure, I like being seen as attractive to guys, as I think most straight women do, but that doesn’t validate me more than liking the person I am inside and knowing that I am a kind, compassionate, understanding, and accepting person. Accepting of all people, straight, gay, trans, black, white, male, female, etc., until someone does something to invalidate that acceptance. Guess I just don’t see the point of disliking a person simply for who they are…

    Anyways, ridiculous show, with a ridiculous premise. If it had been done tastefully, so more along the lines of “What Not To Wear,” it might have been better, but the trans women just made it into a campy, trashy mess. Had they been more professional, and less over the top, it might have been better!


  23. Reminds me of my friend’s bachelorette party, at a restaurant in NYC where all the servers are trans*women (they also “dance”). I was in the restroom, having just exited the stall where I’d CHANGED MY PAD and was told by the trans in the corner “Oh honey. I’m twice the woman you are.” (FYI I was all femmed out with fancy hair, full makeup, designer dress, and heels.) Um, OK. Hi, nice to meet you! Your dress has twice the sequins, your hair and bra are twice as big and your makeup is twice as bright as mine. Guess that beats my bleeding uterus all to hell! Bye!

    • Versa Says:

      As I’m sure any Psych 101 student could tell you… “she” was trying to convince “herself.” Pathetic, huh?

    • Ashland Avenue Says:

      Why am I not surprised that there’s a tranny hanging out in the corner of the women’s loo, judging the women who come through to use the facilities?

      • KittyBarber Says:

        I’m a doing a little catch-up here, but just read this one. It’s so weird, Ashland, the propensity of these men to put on the drag and then hang out in the women’s rooms. While there are times when I feel some compassion for those with this particular mental illness, the fact that they have this disgusting need to invade the few ‘safe’ spaces for women that exist negates that compassion.
        And the men who sign up for these freak shows on television and display their fetishes and paraphilias for the world to laugh and gape at should bring shame on anyone who calls him- or her-self a feminist and supports this.


  24. […] Related: https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/remember-that-you-deserve-this-hilarious-radfem-play-b… […]

  25. moira Says:

    Holy crap. Just showed a friend this episode, and then we watched one more. Episode 2: Christina has a near-identical series of scenes to this one: they make her do a photoshoot in a bathing suit; she cries and protests, says she feels humiliated; cut to her performing for the camera after who knows what coercive bullshit off camera. End with “She deserves it!” http://www.logotv.com/video/episode-2-christina/1648965/playlist.jhtml#vid=578159

    Seriously, everything after the crying is her repeating these obviously scripted lines–“I feel so confident. Thank you.” It’s awful.

  26. slightly terfy Says:

    This makes me literally want to vomit. This is coercion. They are coercing that woman, coercing her for the entertainment of viewers. This show is disgusting.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: