Dr. Keith

We taped an episode of the Dr. Keith show last week, and I’ve been sorting out my thoughts since then. I found the experience exhausting. From all reports (Donna, my sister, another friend) we were good. But some days it’s hard to consider the toll that’s paid.

I’m not sure yet what that toll is exactly, but it feels something like a distilled version of all the other work we do for college audiences & at trans conferences except the audience is so different: at one point during the taping I looked at a woman in the audience whose jaw was literally hanging agape.

It doesn’t help that I’ve replayed it all a million times in my head, hoping I said things that make sense. Before that I worried for days beforehand about whether I could really get something across of what this life is like for both the partner and the trans person. It’d be nice to be able to shut off my brain, to stop wondering what the whole show will be like, since we weren’t on alone: we had the company of a trans man & his ex as well as an intersex person.

Overall, I liked Dr. Keith’s take: his general tone was one of “Wow, that’s one hell of a hand you’ve been dealt,” and although the show was a little too anatomically-focused for me, people DO want to know about body mods and I think it was handled about as well as it could have been. It couldn’t have been thorough – transition, transgender, and intersex are a lot to cover in an hour – but it wasn’t sensational.

So I can only wait to see what the rest of you think. It should air before mid-March, and of course I’ll post info about the airdate as soon as I get it.

6 Replies to “Dr. Keith”

  1. Hey Helen… I just checked in on your site because a friend said you had updated and they said the link to me and my site said “de-transitioned” intersex person. You can leave it as that, but I just want to say that I’m not de-transitioned. I don’t think of it that way. I feel my transition from female to living as male has been an authentic transition of its very own. I don’t like the idea that the word “de-transition” conveys.

    In reading your post I recognized I had many of the same feelings as you going into the show. I mean, they could have taken the whole hour just to get my story straight. Right off the bat I had to correct them and say I did not transition to male again because I wanted to be a homosexual. I thought, “Oh, boy, here we go!” I’m bi-sexual. People just have so many preconceived stereotypes that they cannot help, but to open their mouths and say the wrong thing most of the time. Dr. Keith should have known better, but I think he was only going on what the producers had written for him.

  2. Josef

    I\’d never leave terminology up that you didn\’t use for yourself. My apologies – I don\’t know if I decided on that term or if I heard it from someone at Dr. Keith (I suspect the latter) but I\’d certainly not use it if it\’s not what you use.

    & I understand about not liking what it conveys.

    Believe me, I had to go through the difference between someone being a crossdresser and someone crossdressing as an early stage of exploring their transness about half a dozen times with them, & I\’m still not sure that difference was clear.

    But again, apologies. I certainly get that your change from living male to female and then to who you are now would not be the same as \”undoing\” your first transition. I\’ve certainly felt, just as a partner on Betty\’s ride, that I may still be a woman but I\’m not the woman I used to be, by any stretch.


  3. Helen, (Dr. Keith Show)

    I work daily with a very insightful historian. He has pointed out a couple of rather disturbing things about his own area of expertise and passion. First, everyone who writes “history” or anything else does so with a purpose. To really understand what they are saying we have to know what their purpose is. Often, in fact, usually, their purpose isn’t to report history. The second thing is that the main function (some would argue the only function) of media is entertainment. Readership, viewership and or copies sold are bottom lines that count for much.

    The audience member whose jaw was in her lap is exactly what producers count on to sell advertising. Viewers are captured and held by the show’s ability to engage the emotions of the audience. Some people are truly seeking to understand issues and seeking information and insight. However, most are simply seeking to be entertained or engaged by the funny, bizarre, unusual, amazing or emotionally compelling. Learning may still occur, but it’s exceptional for that to be the prime motivation for any media episode.

    Your audience member with gaping jaw reminds me the issue that is never far from my mind has rarely or never crossed her mind. The bazillion hours of reading, research and reflection I have devoted to understanding and accepting who I am is completely unknown and does not exist for the lady with the open mouth. My theories and arguments and thesis defenses have matured for decades and are second nature to me but are beyond an hour discussion for typical woman or man in the audience.

    I speak regularly to under-graduate and graduate level university psychology students. I spend time making the academic cases, but just as much time trying to communicate fundamentals of human decency.

    Helen, I admire your energy and passion. Every time you touch one soul in an audience I am sure another star is added to your crown.


    Barbara Van Horn

  4. Hm. I’m not sure I know the difference between someone being a crossdresser and someone crossdressing as an early stage of exploring their transness. What did you tell him, or should we wait for the show?

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