www rt.com Tues., Aug.25, 2020
Debbie Hayton is a teacher and a transgender campaigner, based in the UK. She tweets @DebbieHayton. I’m transgender myself.but this film is misleadingly telling viewers as young as six that if they are unhappy with their sex then they can choose the other one, and then all will be fine. But they can’t and it won’t, of course.
The transition from primary school to secondary school can be an anxious time for all children, and it is surely a worthy topic for children’s television to cover.
But “First Day” – the latest offering from the children’s arm of the BBC – focuses on a transgender-identified child who transitions from male to female at the same time. The synopsis is simple: an unhappy feminine boy, mocked and bullied by others, overcomes enormous adversity to become the centre of attention, popular with peers and feted by teachers after they metamorphose from boy to girl.
The four-episode miniseries – produced in Australia and originally shown on ABC – opened last week on CBBC, the BBC TV channel aimed at 6 to 12 year olds. The scene was set when the high school principal told 12 year-old Hannah Bradford that while they would be enrolled under their legal name Thomas, but that any non-legal documents would use the name Hannah.
So far so good – and preferred names are used widely in schools – but then came the bomb-shell: Hannah would be required to use the sick bay toilets in case other parents found out that “a boy was using the girls toilets”. Hannah’s heart-felt plea that they were not a boy pulled hard on the emotional heartstrings. Less than three minutes into episode one, the young hero was already pitched against unknown and unseen adults who presumably might be “transphobic”.
The series continues on Wednesday 26th August at 5 pm, with a plot reminiscent of a modern-day fairy tale. Hannah’s initial plan is stealth: to hide the past and pose as a girl to all the other children. But the first hurdle – a sleepover party – could be Cinderella at the ball. Hannah is not allowed to sleep over, but not for the sake of the other girls.
Hannah’s parents were adamant: it was purely about Hannah’s safety and need for support. The disappointment is palpable when Hannah’s doting mother arrives at the party. The car might not turn into a pumpkin on the way home, but the events of the next day could have come straight from Disney.