Teen and transgender dad find their way to U.S. family TV

Tue Jun 2, 2015 9:58am EDT
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By Daina Beth Solomon

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Carly Lehwald, transitioning to life as a woman, is at ease shopping for lacy bras in new reality television show "Becoming Us," while Ben Lehwald, her teenage son, tags along, squirming in embarrassment.

Carly tells Ben coolly: "Been there, done that, not a big deal."

It may be hard for Ben, but the whole idea of bringing cameras into their homes belongs to this high school senior who felt "lost" when his father switched from "Charlie" to "Carly."

He pitched the show to his family in hopes that putting their lives on TV would help other kids accept transgender parents.

The ABC Family "docuseries" premieres June 8, marking one of the first reality TV shows to broach transgender acceptance to a mainstream U.S. audience.

As it did in the late 1990s in gay-friendly shows such as "Will & Grace," U.S. television is again playing a big part in the transgender community's growing visibility, with scripted dramas such as "Orange is the New Black" and "Transparent" leading the way.  

Ben Lehwald believes, however, that it's time to show the real-life drama unfolding in the Chicago suburb of Evanston.

"It doesn't just happen to people on TV," the 17-year-old told Reuters. "Sooner or later, we're just going to have to start accepting that."   Continued...

Carly Lehwald (L) and her son Ben at Carly's home in Chicago, Illinois, United States, May 30, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young