Transparent helped elevate Amazon.com's original programming from an Internet footnote to Golden Globe Award-winner for best TV series – and its portrait of a parent (Jeffrey Tambor) who transitions brought conversations about transgender lives into mainstream media.
While waiting for the series' second season to return later this year, check out these three web series for quick-but-awesome binge-athons of independent shows about transgender people:
1. The Pearl of Africa
This documentary series profiles Cleopatra Kambugu, a transgender rights activist who was publicly outed in a tabloid the week anti-gay legislation was passed in Uganda. Swedish director Jonny von Wallström follows the ups and downs Cleo experiences over a period of 18 months, including the climate in her country around the violent homophobic policies and the reality of being outed without permission. Beautifully filmed, this series goes behind the news stories to see the LGBT community in Uganda fighting for their safety and for love. Six episodes are available now at PearlOfAfrica.tv.
2. True Trans by Laura Jane Grace
In 2012, Laura Jane Grace, the singer of punk band Against Me!, came out in a Rolling Stone article. "The cliché is that you're a woman trapped in a man's body, but it's not that simple," she explained. "It's a feeling of detachment from your body and from yourself." Since then, Against Me! has released a critically-acclaimed record and their frontwoman released a 10-part documentary series for AOL last fall called True Trans with Laura Jane Grace. Grace discusses her transition, the effects of coming out, and the messy complications of gender. The show includes interviews with other transgender folks, including MMA fighter Fallon Fox and filmmaker Buck Angel.
Brothers is a narrative web series about a group of four friends in Brooklyn, and was funded in part through a 2014 crowdsourcing campaign. The main characters Jack, Davyn, Aiden and Max are all played by transgender actors and, though scripted, the series is very realistic and tackles tough questions about sexuality, age, privilege, and community in urban society. Season one is available on YouTube and season two is currently in production.
Go ahead and set your Google alerts for these three coming attractions:
The Switch is a narrative series coming this fall that takes place in Vancouver with a majority transgender cast. The Switch calls itself "ridiculous, defiantly hopeful, but ultimately honest" while exploring comedy with a touch of magical realism. Watch the trailer here.
Myrna is an original dramedy series that follows Myrna, a trans woman who previously had success as an actor before transitioning, trying to navigate her new life and career as a woman. You can watch the pilot here and hopefully this series (which had a successful FanBacked campaign and already has three seasons of material ready to be filmed) will find a distributor soon.
S(her)lock: The Web Series is a feminist and LGBT re-telling of Sherlock Holmes and the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, set in 1990s Boston and featuring Dr. Watson as a trans woman. The show is Kickstarter-funded and the pilot has already been filmed – look for the six-episode first season to be released later this year.