African-American Transgender Character on Showtime

Showtime's 'Barbershop The Series' Has Trans Character

by Monica Roberts

Fans of the Showtime cable show 'Barbershop The Series' were treated to something unusual for several episodes: a postive portrayal of an African-American transperson named Claire.
The show is based on the Ice Cube produced 2002 hit movie 'Barbershop'and picks up where the movie left off. It has an all new cast playing the familiar denizens of the Chicago neighborhood shop.

Claire is played by Broadway actress and former 'Moesha' star Sheryl Lee Ralph. Her character makes her first appearance in the series when she meets a despondent Eddie in a bar. They have a good time and things quickly lead to the bedroom from there. However, Claire is uncomfortable with how fast Eddie starts falling in love with her and subsequently reveals her secret to him.

Eddie is forced to confront the fact that his girlfriend was once on the same side of the gender fence with him. The revelation forces Eddie to reexamine his homophobic worldview while simutaneously trying to deal with the fallout from the news that Claire has delivered. The good news is that viewers get to watch it play out over several episodes.

While the storyline does take a serious look at those relationship issues, it does have some comical moments such as the episode when Claire tells Eddie during an argument "I'm not only more woman than anyone you've ever met, I have the receipts to prove it!"

This isn't the first time that African-American transpeople have been portrayed on television. In 1977 during 'The Jeffersons' fourth season they broadcast an episode in which 'Young And the Restless' actress Veronica Redd played George's old Navy buddy Eddie Stokes who was coming to New York after twenty-five years to see him. What George didn't know was that Eddie had undergone SRS and become Edith. That episode was also memorable for the honest way it touched upon the emotions of someone who had transitioned and was revealing themselves to an old friend.

Here's hoping that we see more positive portrayals of African-American transpeople in Hollywood.