‘Glee’ coach’s transition: right move for wrong reasons?


The Appalachian Online

madison Seale

The television show “Glee” has made waves once again; one of its regular characters came out as transgender, and now photos have released of his new look airing on Feb. 13.

Sheldon Beiste, formerly Shannon and often referred to as Coach Beiste, first ap- peared in season two as the high school’s football coach. Beiste, who is portrayed by actress Dot-Marie Jones, is a character with excellent depth and a tough, strong per- sonality despite self-esteem issues. The result of these

traits creates the most realis- tic character in the show.

When Beiste revealed she was transitioning into a man, there were two clashing re- sults. On one hand, another much-needed representa- tive of trans characters has entered television, which thrills me. On another, one of Beiste’s strongest messages was lost in the process.

Beiste has been a role model for younger viewers, saying you can be tough and masculine and still be a wom- an. Typically these kinds of characters are either shown in a bad light or used only for comedy, but Coach Beiste is done very well. When you think of it as a masculine fe- male role model turning out to be a man all along, the message is lost.

While this is disappointing, I believe the character’s new meaning makes up for the former one.

There are lots of strong female characters in media and numbers are growing. If you want to see balanced, realistic women, look no further than “Orange is the New Black.” Beiste is the first regular character to ever come out as transgender and transition on broadcast tele- vision. Dot-Marie Jones said in an interview with People Magazine that she is “hon- ored” to take on the role and is very involved with the LGBT community. She has also received responses from transgendered men saying “I never thought I’d see myself onTV.”

Jones is working with the right attitude and fully in- tends to give the part justice.

“My big thing is to make the trans community proud and have the most respect for it,” she told “After Ellen.”

I’m fully confident she will portray Sheldon’s transition

excellently. She’s great for the part and always has been. The show itself, however, isn’t.

“Glee” has a history of tak- ing a single “token” member of a demographic and toting them around. Part of true ac- ceptance is not creating a fe- tish out of diversity. “Glee’s” portrayals range from re- spectful – Beiste delivered an emotional monologue about his transition that was near flawless – to cringeworthy and stereotypical.

Did the show make this decision for all the right rea- sons? I don’t know for sure, but I doubt it. Do I care? Not really. Beiste’s transition on this popular of a show is a great step forward for the media’s acceptance of the transgender community.

Seale, a sophomore communications major from Charlotte, is an opinion writer.

STORY: Madison Seale, Opinion Writer