May 12, 2013

Lalola: What Transgender Characters Always Get Wrong

The Argentine romantic comedy series Lalola (2007-2008), about a man who becomes a woman, is an international success, airing all over the world, with local remakes in Belgium, Indonesia, Greece, the Philippines, Portugal, and Spain.

However, it makes a gigantic mistake.  The same mistake that most movies and tv series about transgender people make.

Lalo (former teen idol Juan Gil Navarro, left), chick-magnet and the editor of a men's magazine, dumps Romina, who hires a witch to transformed into a woman.

 After the initial shock wears off and she adjusts to such problems as how to walk in high heels, Lalo adopts a new identity as Lola, who takes over the magazine. Newly aware of sexism, she changes the editorial focus, and meanwhile falls in love with hunky coworker Facundo (Luciano Catro).

Have you figured out the mistake yet?

The Greek version, Lola, is about the same, except Leonides Lalos (Giannis Aivaziz)  is even more obsessed with women before his transformation, and afterwards she falls in love with Fotis (Thanasis Efthimiadis).

How about now?

In the Philippine version, Lalola, Lalo (Wendell Ramos) is transformed by a distinctly Filipino magical being. This time she has a gay best friend (Keempee de Leon), but she still falls in love with Facundo (JC de Vera, top photo).

The big mistake: changing your physiological sex can't change who you're attracted to.  You like who you like.  If Lalo liked women before he transformed, Lola will like women now.

Mass media always gets this wrong.  Whether they change through magic or sex-reassignment surgery, transmen and transwomen always are attracted to the "opposite sex."

It's pure heterosexism.  Producers believe that no gay people exist, that same-sex desire does not and cannot exist, so all men are attracted to women, and all women to men.  So if a man becomes a woman, she must necessarily desire men.

At least the Greek version featured Yannis Spaliaris as a hunky model who vies for Lola's affection.

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