NBC took the story of Oz and turned it on its head for a 10 episode series (which may or may not get renewed) called Emerald City. The Wizard of Oz has long held an important standing in gay lives. Not only was Judy Garland one of THE top emulated celebrities for drag queens (along with Barbara Streisand and Cher before newer generational artists took over), but she was also a quintessential gay icon. Additionally, being a “Friend of Dorothy” was a code used to help discretely let others know you were gay and the history of the term is rather interesting. Toss in that NBC has an LGBT exclusive section for online news, twitter, and facebook as NBC Out one cannot help but feel there’s a lot of undertones throughout this new series.
This post isn’t really about the show itself so I won’t get into too many details about it, but I did want to set the stage, as it were, for a particular scene that really struck a deep cord with me.
A teenage child was kept captive and constantly made to take a medicine which we learned keeps them in the body of a boy. Being taken away from the medicine we learn the true birth gender was a female as the child, Tip/Ozma (played by Jordan Loughran) is turned back into a girl without the magic medicine. Through a series of events Tip/Ozma winds up having a close bond with “West” (the wicked witch of the west, played by Ana Ularu) who is anything but the one you’ve come to know from the classic Wizard of Oz film. Together they set out to right wrongs done to them by the Wizard of Oz and through the introduction of magic, Tip/Ozma transforms back into the body of a boy, which West is none too happy about as the witch coven will likely only follow the female-bodied Ozma.
“This is what the magic found. This is me.”
During this scene, while the character has now returned to being Tip, some very interesting dialogue takes place. When West questions why Tip changed back to a boy, his response is simply: “This is what the magic found. This is me.” Shortly after that, West goes on to explain to him that Ozma was born a girl and they won’t be able to rally an army of witches if he remains in the body of a boy named tip and needs to turn back into a girl, as Ozma. Their exchange is what really sang to my ear.
TIP: This is what I’ve always been. This is who I really am.
WEST: You were born a girl and if you don’t change yourself back into one no one will follow you. You will never have your revenge.
TIP: I finally have what I care about most… This isn’t petty, this is me!
WEST: Your parents will go unavenged just so you can take a piss standing up?
TIP: No, don’t do this to me. Don’t make me choose. Do you have any idea what it was like for me to look in the mirror and see a stranger staring back to have someone else all over me infecting me? This, this, this skin is the only thing that was ever really mine.
There are so many television shows, so many movies, and so many people trying to represent us, the trans community, who never really seem to truly “get it.” So many cis people seem to be at the helm of our visibility and it’s often to lackluster results. But this exchange, this moment in television seemed to say someone out there “gets it.” This scene, for me, wasn’t two characters arguing about which was the best embodiment for raising an army. This was a young person fighting against notions of gender that were forced upon them without their knowledge or consent. They’ve fought against it, they’ve mourned it, and now they have an avenue to finally be the genuine person, their authentic self, and once again the world is sticking its nose into things. For the first time in a long time, I really felt someone expressed my thoughts and feelings into words and represented my own emotions as a trans person with words that were ones I wish I knew and said back when I was just beginning my transition.
“It was disheartening to see the character succumb and turn back to a female..”
It was disheartening to see the character succumb and turn back to a female – a glammed up, overly feminine female – to handle the task that’s needed. On one end of things, we should be happy that a woman is shown to be a strong and powerful person. Secondly, the scene and the character were never really introduced as one that was intended to represent any particular group of people.
The fate of the show hangs in the balance right now as the ratings teetered, and the first few episodes got more convoluted than was really necessary to get us to the end point. It left off with a good potential to easily segue into the next season. If it does get renewed, I would really love to see the character of Tip/Ozma come back around and allow him to return – once and for all – into his true skin.