Talk shows: they're a classic pastime that comes in near limitless variations. You've got your Ellens, your Maury's, your Donahues and Williamses (Wendy and Montell). And of course, you've got the queen of them all, Oprah. There's a host for almost everyone.
But there is one segment of the population has been left out of the talk show game: the transgendered. That's about to change with Jasmine Ford, who starting this week will be lending her voice -- and face -- to Miami's transgender community with her talk show, The Gender Experience.
Ford, 41, describes her middle class upbringing in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, as traditional, where topics such as gender disorders were never discussed. She recalls how other children around her would "solidify their gender identity and begin learning and mimicking the appropriate behavior prescribed for their sex." But for her, and others like her, this did not happen.
"The popular description of being 'trapped in the wrong body' is an accurate one," says Ford.
When your mental sex and your anatomical sex don't match up, this is referred to as a gender disorder, which, Ford explains, can be amended by having reassignment surgery. "The goal is to make the individual's psychological sex match their anatomy, thus restoring mental health and emotional stability."
At age 18, Ford began her transition from male to female, and by her mid-twenties, she was happily working as a nurse.
Yet, because she felt plenty of pressures for being transgendered, Ford admits that in 2009 she had trouble with her mental health and contemplated suicide. "Transgendered people are routinely denied a voice in their communities, which leads to these individuals living rejected and disadvantaged lives."
After her breakdown, Ford found refuge in an unexpected place: religion. Specifically, the New Birth Baptist Church. "I walked through the sanctuary doors spiritually bound and broken, and was largely accepted by the congregants," she says. There, she felt no judgment and flourished both spiritually and as a person in her daily life. She touches upon the subjects of god, the New Birth church, and her own personal journey in her upcoming autobiography, The Strange Element in the Sanctuary: The Jasmine Ford Story.
The sense of community at New Birth was transformative. With her show, The Gender Experience, Ford hopes to be able to help people better embrace who they are by sending the message she so badly needed in 2009: you are not alone. She named the show The Gender Experience because "the quest for identity, self-validation, hope, and purpose are elements of the human experience we all pursue desperately throughout our lives."
Ford, along with her co-host, Renee Singleton, a female to male transgender, will discuss "thought provoking material from an unconventional perspective," she says, adding, "This talk show was created to take a hard look at the social construct of sex, sexuality, and relationships as they occur across the gender spectrum."
Aside from the fact that Singleton and Ford will be speaking from their own experiences in life, the two will also offer insight as experts. Singleton holds a Master's degree in Behavioral Science, and Ford, in addition to her nursing degree, is currently studying clinical psychology and biology at FIU.
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The Gender Experience premieres on Thursday, December 19, at 10 p.m. on TruRythme.TV. Personal inquires can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org, and the live taping will be held at CL Gaskin Center (5525 NW Seventh Ave., Miami).
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