How ‘The End’ made sure it portrayed transgender characters accurately

Foxtel’s new drama series The End shows the challenges on family goes through as they each face their individual challenges.

Dame Harriet Walters plays Edie, a vicar’s wife who is adjusting to life after he husband passes away, she’s relocated from England to Australia and is not impressed with the retirement village her daughter as set her up in.

Her daughter Kate, played by Frances O’Connor, has a stack of her own problems, as a doctor specialising in palliative care, and she’s passionate in her opposition to euthanasia – but some of her patients are more for it. Add to that her business-man husband is in prison and one of her children is working their way through the process of gender transition.

The show has been praised for it’s positive depiction of a teenager dealing with gender incongruence. Oberon, Kate’s son being transgender is not presented as a major plot revelation, a shock for the audience, he just simply is trans from the get-go. OUTinPerth chatted to Andrew Guy who served as a consultant on the series during its writing process.

Guy has been at the forefront of making sure Australian television has better representation of people who are transgender. He was the first transgender person to be a presenter on The Project, and is an experienced actor, alongside his works as an advocate and presenter.

His involvement with The End has been over the course of its creation, a journey that started five years ago.

“Samantha Strauss, the writer approached me after I’ve done some guest presenting on The Project on Channel 10.” Guy recalled. “She basically just said, ‘Hi, my name is Sam, I’m a writer, and these are some of my credits, so that, you know I’m legit.”

Strauss asked Guy if he’d be interested in assisting in reviewing and contributing to scenes that included several transgender characters in the series to make sure their stories sounded authentic.

“She wanted help to write the character of Oberon, the trans teenager, she wanted someone who had been through the experience of a gender transition.”

“It’s been quite a journey over the five years and I’m really excited that it’s come to the point where its able to be seen by Australian audiences, we know the UK loved it – which was great to see. It’s been a journey of ‘really being real’ about what female to male gender transformation is like, and putting that into the realm of the teenage years.” Guy said. “It was really nice to create some real truths to what Oberon’s journey is about.”

The inclusion of Oberon’s story is one of the few stories of female to male gender transition that’s been included in Australian television, following Wentworth’s introduction of the character of Reb Keane in 2020.

“It’s huge to get a story like this included at this level, with the stars that are involved in the show, the storylines that are involved, it’s a really big deal to feature us, and I’m so grateful that this particular character is part of that.” Guy said.

The trick to making transgender character be authentic on screen is one of restraint Guy said.

“You couldn’t overwrite this, you could overwrite and try explain it and it would become sort of more mockumentary style or activism, which it’s not – it’s a purely fictional character. So I think it’s more in the writing of ‘what’s not been said'”.

Andrew Guy thinks Having a transgender storyline included in this project, that features some heavyweight actors, will be of benefit to the LGBTI communities, because some people who might not normally hear the experiences of transgender people will see the show.

“I’m really grateful that it is in amongst these well known actors, because it will mean that more people will see a story that they probably otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to. And that at the end of the day is beautiful, because that’s how we learn.

“I know from my time on The Project, there were some teenagers watching with their families that actually didn’t have the courage to say, ‘that’s actually what I’m like’. So I have a feeling that if it’s not going to be to that extent, it will inspire and encourage mainstream audiences to learn about what gender transitioning is, how hard it is for teenagers in a way, that they probably otherwise would never say.”

The End features three performers who are on the gender spectrum, which may be a record for representation on an Australian show, alongside Morgan Davies who plays Oberon, there’s also Zoe Terakes who’s previously appeared in Janet King, Wentworth and the film Ellie and Abbie (And Ellie’s Dead Aunt) and YouTuber Seb Thornton-Walker.

The End is screening 8:30pm Tuesdays on FOX Showcase, or watch the entire series on demand. Check out OUTinPerth’s chat with actor Morgan Davies too!

Graeme Watson, images by Mark Taylor

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