Osgood and the (probably) unintentional trans narrative

I like Osgood. I like her better the more we see of her. She’s grown from Doctor superfan into super freakin important protecting the world person. All versions of her.

But seeing her, in The Zygon Invasion and especially in the The Zygon Inversion,  as a solo act for most of it, made me think. There was something happening that felt really familiar…

“Are you a human or a Zygon?” everybody wanted to know. Repeatedly.
“I’m me.” Osgood replies. Repeatedly. And at the end of Inversion, to the question of when she’ll reveal which she is? “When it no longer matters.” Which almost broke me.

Now replace those questions. Not human or Zygon but boy or girl.

And think about the story. The desperation of the Zygon rebels to be seen for their true selves, in their true form. The fear of the others, just wanting to blend in and be seen as human. The knowledge of the bate and chaos that unmasking would cause. The only other option seeming to be death.

This is a life that trans people live. This is a life that I’ve lived. I want to be true to my trans identity, because it’s important to me, but damn if it ain’t good sometimes to just pass as male and not have to deal with the crap. For many trans people, the best thing they can do is go stealth, so nobody knows.
And at times, sometimes overwhelmingly so, it can feel like the world wants you dead, like that’s the only real way to escape.

Every trans person and every non-gender-conforming person has probably had this question – probably many times – I know I have, and long before I figured out that I was trans.

“Are you a boy or or a girl?”

I don’t know about everyone else, but when I answer that question, whatever the words out of my mouth say, the meaning is: I’m me. Please. Just see me.

I don’t really think this was intentionally done – awesome as it would be if it were – but that’s the fun part of art and media: it can be what we make of it. We can relate to it in our own way.

It’s really important to be able to see yourself reflected in  the media you consume. It’s where so much media falls down – with bad portrayals, stereotypes, tropes, tokens, and straight-up ignorance. As a transmasculine guy, I don’t see myself that much in the media I love – the games, the tv, the films, the books – I have to go hunting and even then, how I’m shown is rarely something to be happy about.

One reason it took me 30yrs to figure out who I was is because I never saw it anywhere, because trans men are mostly ignored. It often feels like people are playing a zero-sum game: they already showed a trans woman – which is good, because normalising trans woman will help stop them being killed – but that means they met their quota so everyone else can piss off.

It’s lazy bullshit, and it means that many others are missed out entirely. That’s what being a trans guy is like, for me.

So hey, you know, maybe it wasn’t intentional, but that’s ok. I saw myself in it anyway.

I’ve always seen Doctor Who as a show that can shine a light, whether intentional or not, on our culture. Racism, xenophobia, homophobia, war, murder, morality…the list goes on
So I add to it, in the form of Osgood, that question I have heard so often, and that answer I’ve always been trying to give.

I am who I am. Please. Just see me.

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  • Chris Johnston

    “I don’t really think this was intentionally done…”

    Really? New Who makes an LGBT relevant story point and you *don’t* think it was intentionally done?

    What show have you been watching since 2005 exactly? :-)

    • Hmmm… LGBT are four separate things though, and can’t always be lumped together.

      While I will happily give you the L (nd I love Vastra and Jenny), and the B (canonising bisexuality was a good thing, even if it is mostly used as a gimmick) and even the existence of the G (just about). I’ve not seen any Trans people, or storylines in there until this.

      Yes, it’s canon that the Time Lords can change gender in regeneration, that’s a total change of body and personality, which is not akin to being trans.

      I would happily eat my guess that the Osgood narrative was unintentional if I had anything to tell me it was done on purpose. I don’t have that amount of faith in the understanding of the people making the show, to give them a benefit of the doubt on it though :)