PBS Website Will Host Blog Post on Transgender Dating

By Terence P. Jeffrey | June 12, 2017 | 4:50pm EDT
This graphic appears promoting a blog posting about "dating when are trans" appears about 42 minutes into the federally funded documentary "Real Boy." "Real Boy" was made by the congressionally mandated filmmaker ITVS and will be aired next Monday on federally funded PBS. (Screen Capture)

(CNSNews.com) - The website of the federally funded Public Broadcasting Service will host a blog posting about transgender dating, which will be advertised on air next Monday evening when PBS broadcasts the transgender documentary “Real Boy.”

“Real Boy” was produced by the Independent Television Service (ITVS), a congressionally mandated documentary filmmaker that received $86,680,358 in federal funding during the five most recent years reported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (fiscal 2010 through 2014) on its 990 forms.

About 42 minutes into this nearly 57-minute documentary, the video shows a classroom at a California community college, according to a copy of the film provided to CNSNews.com by ITVS. Bennett, the focus of the documentary—who had what PBS calls “gender reassignment surgery” three months before this scene—is in the classroom, listening to a female professor. She is discussing “hyper-masculinity.”

“Not just masculinity, because some of his critics say: Well, men have been masculine for all time, you know,” says the professor. “But he is talking about hyper-masculinity contributing to sexual assault, homicide, even just road rage. Right. Not only are there these two narrow categories of what one is supposed to fit in. But we also know that there is a hierarchy, right, and one of those is valued more. Masculinity is valued more in our society, right. So, if you fit more into that box—and I really think the easiest example is to think of young girls who are tomboys, right, which we have talked about--way more acceptable than the alternative, right?”

When this lecture ends, the video shows Bennett—whom his parents had named Rachael—talking to a girl at the back of the classroom. A graphic appears on the screen. It shows the PBS logo next to these words: “Dating when you are trans: More at pbs.org/independentlens.”

“Independent Lens”—the weekly program on PBS that broadcasts ITVS documentaries--will air “Real Boy” at 10:00 p.m. on June 19.

ITVS was created to fulfill a mandate included in the Public Telecommunications Act of 1988 that required the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to “provide adequate funds for an independent production service” that would back “the production of public television programs by independent producers and independent production entities.”

As CNSNews.com reported on June 7, the federal government paid CPB $3.643 billion in the eight fiscal years from 2009 through 2016, according to Monthly Treasury Statements. From 2011 through 2015, according to its 990 forms, CPB paid ITVS $86,680,358. During those same years, CPB paid PBS $235,668,227.

From fiscal 2003 through fiscal 2016, according to the federal government’s National Endowment for the Arts, the NEA gave ITVS another $1,485,000 to “support the selection, acquisition, and packaging of films for the public television series Independent Lens.”

On the same website to which the graphic in “Real Boy” directs viewers if they want to learn more about “dating when you are trans,” PBS includes a brief summary of the documentary itself.

“A moving and intimate story of a family in transition, Real Boy follows the journey of trans teen Bennett as he navigates adolescence, sobriety, and the physical and emotional ramifications of his changing gender identity,” says the summary.

The PBS website also includes a request for people to post their own comments there if they are transgender or have a transgender family member.


“Are you or anyone in your family transgender?” it asks. “Share your own stories about adjustment and acceptance here. What aspect of Bennett’s story, which is also a story of coming of age and sobriety, do you relate to?”

As previously reported, CNSNews.com first asked ITVS about the “dating-when-you-are-trans” graphic on June 7: “What is this graphic referring people to and what does Independent Lens intend to tell people on this PBS website about transgender dating?”

ITVS responded: “Independent Lens is working on a blog post that will be a Q&A format talking with transgender individuals. It will be posted closer to broadcast.”

After that initial story about “Real Boy,” CNSNews.com asked ITVS and PBS additional questions about the “dating-when-you-are-trans” graphic.

CNSNews.com asked ITVS if the blog post about transgender dating would be written by one of ITVS’s regular bloggers and when it would be posted. CNSNews.com also asked ITVS if it would be posted on the regular Independent Lens blog page at pbs.org/independentlens/blog, if the blog post’s Q&A format would feature observations by transgender individuals about their dating experiences and/or advice on dating as a transgender—or, if that were not the blog post’s subject matter, what the subject matter would be.

ITVS did not respond.

CNSNews.com asked PBS about the planned blog post: “Is it acceptable to PBS that ‘Independent Lens’ promote on a PBS broadcast and post on the PBS website a blog about ‘dating when you are trans’?” CNSNews.com also asked PBS: “If so, is there any human behavior that PBS would find unacceptable as the focus of a blog posting based on a Q&A with people who engage in that behavior and that PBS would, therefore, not allow to be posted on its website?”

PBS did not respond.

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