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Girls & Women

5 Reasons We're Psyched for This New TV Show Exploring Gender Identity in 2018

Oh, television. You really are spoiling us at the moment.

Who needs to go outside when you’ve got the fresh “Queer Eye” touching on every issue from police brutality to gender norms? Who’s got time for “Britain’s Got Talent” when today’s the last day you can watch classic episodes of the stigma-crushing “RuPaul's Drag Race” on Netflix? Why bother with the Chronicles of Kanye on Twitter when there’s an all-female Celebrity Big Brother to catch up on?

And now Channel 4 is launching a brand new TV show that explores what gender identity means in 2018 — and it looks insightful.

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“Genderquake” is a two-part show that brings together 11 millennials across the diverse spectrum of gender and sexual identity under one roof for a week. It starts May 7, there’s no evictions, and it’s all about one thing: dialogue around gender fluidity.

“It made me realise how little we all actually interact, which can only lead to ignorance about other people’s lives,” Howie, 25, told the Daily Mail. Howie is a 25-year-old housemate on the show who grew up wanting to be a boy, but came out as a lesbian after years struggling to work out who she was.

As I’m sure you can imagine, we’re pretty stoked about the whole show. Here’s why.

1) Britain really, really needs it

Have you read the papers recently? Britain has become quite the hostile environment for the transgender community.

Over 100 people complained about The Sun — the most circulated daily newspaper in the UK — after they published a front page splash on classes to crack down on trans bullying with the headline: “The skirt on the drag queen goes swish swish swish.”

Read More: 21 Must-Watch Films About Trans People

Meanwhile, a Stonewall survey found that 84% of trans young people bullied at school have self-harmed, while nearly half have attempted to kill themselves.

Another edition took aim at Hannah Winterbourne, the UK’s highest ranking transgender soldier, and her marriage to director, actor, and writer Jake Graf (who, by the way, also happens to be a transgender man). The headline “Tran and wife” was labelled “misleading” by Graf, while Winterbourne dismissed it as “offensive.”

It’s an issue easily sensationalised because most British people don’t understand what it means to be transgender. There’s a similarly simple solution: tell their real stories.

2) It celebrates difference

Saffron, 21, identifies as non-binary, and prefers the pronoun “they” over “he” or “she”.

Charlie, 19, was assigned male at birth, but identifies as a woman. However, she only started transitioning after her stint in the “Genderquake” house.

Dan, 21, identifies as gender-queer; Phoenix, 22, says he’s “70% female”; while Dan, 21, is a cisgender heterosexual guy from Barnsley — meaning he’s straight, and defines himself by the gender he was assigned at birth.

Basically, it's all about diversity — and as each housemate starts to learn more about each other’s lives, it’s set to challenge your perceptions of everything you thought you knew about gender fluidity.

3) It might reignite momentum to reform the Gender Recognition Act

Last year, British Prime Minister Theresa May made an important speech at the Pink Awards.

“We are determined to eradicate homophobic and transphobic bullying,” May said in October. “We have laid out plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act, streamlining and demedicalising the process for changing gender because being trans is not an illness and it should not be treated as such.”

Right now, the Act allows anybody to change their sex on official legal documents. But it’s expensive, time consuming, and requires invasive medical checks — something the government has claimed they want to change. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also said he would support such an amendment.

Read More: 5 Young Trans Activists Are Changing How The World Thinks About Gender

May’s speech followed a promise by then-education secretary Justine Greening in July 2017 to launch a consultation on the issue. But no consultation has yet taken place.

International development secretary Penny Mordaunt is now the women and equalities minister too — the role Greening held when she pledged that consultation — after the resignation of home secretary Amber Rudd on Sunday. Will a wave of mainstream attention provoke a political response?

4) It’s part of something much bigger

It’s not just about “Genderquake.”

Channel 4 is also launching a wider series of programmes exploring gender identity. Take, for example, “Riot Girls”: a feminist prank show which will use hidden cameras to explore issues like the gender pay gap with a stunt called the “Gappuccino”. Never heard of “wo-manspreading”? You will soon.

Read More: 7 Women We Really Want to See in the All-Female 'Celebrity Big Brother' House

There will also be a documentary following transgender activist Munroe Bergdorf as she tackles gender dysphoria; a studio debate; and a collaboration between a ballet dancer and a spoken word artist — both trans — exploring the theme of transition.

5) It’s so topical

While some British media outlets rage a fresh propaganda war against an issue they refuse to understand, the situation is even worse in the US.

Under the Trump administration, there’s been a ban on some transgender people serving in the military, and increased calls for laws that ban transgender people from using public toilets that align with their gender identity. Earlier in April, Alaska narrowly rejected such a proposal. But it was close.

"The issues around gender and gender identity are some of the most charged and hotly-debated of our time,” said Kelly Webb-Lamb, Channel 4’s deputy director of programmes. "Through a collection of entertaining, thoughtful, and provocative programmes, this season will feature a broad range of inspiring people who add their varied and informative voices to the wider debate."

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals to end extreme poverty, including Goal No. 5 for gender equality. But we also dig it when reality television experiments with a bit of, you know, reality. You can join us by taking action with us here