Producers' Notes From True Life: I'm Changing My Sex

One of the most worthwhile things about working on I’m Changing My Sex was being able to get an up close and personal view of the compelling and often misunderstood topic of transgenderism. The responses we received after we put out the casting call were overwhelming in a really wonderful way, and the transgender community was incredibly supportive of the show right from the beginning.

As we started to research the topic, we soon discovered that documenting the entire sex change process from start to finish would take much longer than the time we had to complete this project. We caught up with Elle and Ted during the very final stages of their transitions; in order for them to go through the surgical procedures that you see in the show, they first had to undergo intensive therapy and live full-time as the opposite gender for an entire year or more to be totally sure that they were ready to make such irreversible changes. And before going under the knife or even starting hormone therapy, both of them had to present their surgeons with letters from their therapists that stated that they did truly believe that they had what has been defined as gender dysphoria. To quote Elle, “It means that I’m not crazy. Basically all those things say … you’re not 'nuts,' you don’t have a 'brain tumor' pushing on your head that’s making you think you have gender identity disorder, my dog didn’t tell me to do it, I’m not getting told to do things from, you know, an alternate dimension…" These letters also gave them full approval to get medical treatment -- in the form of surgery or hormones.

What surprised us the most as we began filming was how determined both characters were to make these changes. Part of our job as producers is to capture all the ups and downs of making such a life-changing move, and before we started shooting, I think we automatically expected them to go through some kind of period of doubt or questioning about having these major surgeries. We expected someone to break down, or panic that maybe surgery wouldn’t fix the underlying unhappiness. That never happened. Both Elle and Ted were, as Ted said after his consultation, “full steam ahead” and had “no second thoughts” about surgery whatsoever. And their resolve made a lot more sense to us once we got to know them and realized that this was not just a medical procedure to them. This was a way to finally allow them to show off on the outside who they truly were on the inside –- and, in fact, nothing on the inside was changing. In the end, it was really inspirational to watch these two fight for the chance to feel comfortable in their own skin for the first time. They really deserved it.

--True Life: I'm Changing My Sex producers, Dani & Roopa