**SPOILER ALERT** If you have not seen episodes one through six, come back when you have!
Six weeks ago, ABC Family premiered "Becoming Us," a “docu-series” that follows the life of an Illinois family through their struggles and triumphs. While this series might sound like others, there is nothing quite like “Becoming Us,” a groundbreaking, history-making program that offers endless learning opportunities for viewers. Watch Mondays at 10pm EST/9pm CST.
Throughout the docu-series, we get to know 16-year-old Ben, his family, and his friends. Like many other teenage boys, Ben is dealing with school, dating and finding himself, but he’s also dealing with a unique family dynamic: his parents recently divorced, and his father is transitioning from Charlie to Carly. Ben faces this reality with the support of his friends Ayton, Brook, and his now ex-girlfriend Danielle, whose father, Sallydan, is also transitioning. Through Ayton and Brook, we also get to know Brook’s brother Lathan, who opens up to Carly in episode four about his trans identity. Meanwhile, Ben’s older half-sister Sutton just got engaged and needs to make some tough decisions about her family at her wedding.
“Becoming Us” brings to light multiple issues faced by trans people, their families and presents these issues from multiple perspectives. For instance, Carly, Sallydan and Lathan are all trans people at different stages in their transition. Even though Carly disclosed her plans to undergo gender confirmation surgery, Lathan makes clear that surgery isn’t for everyone: “Being transgender has nothing to do with needing surgery.” As another example, although Carly and Sallydan both identify as trans women, they prefer different pronouns, reminding us that we should politely ask about preferred pronouns, rather than make assumptions.
“Becoming Us” is set in Illinois where, according to GLSEN's 2013 State Snapshot of School Climate for LGBT Students, 50 percent regularly heard negative remarks about transgender people, and 25 percent regularly heard negative remarks about gender expression made by school staff.
We at GLSEN are hopeful that “Becoming Us,” through the many lessons it teaches about trans issues, can help improve the school climate for youth in Illinois and across th
e country. GLSEN has a number of resources available online for students and educators to help make that happen. Together, we can make a difference to improve the school climate for all students.
We will be tuning in every Monday night to learn more about Ben and his family’s journey, and we’ll be live-tweeting our responses using the hashtags #BecomingUs and #BecomingUsChat. Hope you’ll join us!