Putting the 'Trans' in 'Transform Me'

New VH1 series stars three transgender women transforming women across America.

ByABC News
April 15, 2010, 5:14 PM

April 19, 2010— -- The three transgender female stars of the new VH1 series "Transform Me" are transforming television while transforming women across America.

A twist on the traditional makeover show, "Transform Me" stars three transgender women, Laverne Cox, Jamie Clayton and Nina Poon, who drive around in an ambulance -- make that glambulance -- responding to style emergencies.

At the same time, they are changing the television landscape on Monday nights.

"The show is breaking new ground by presenting transgendered women as fierce and fabulous -- if a little superficial," Village Voice columnist Michael Musto told ABCNews.com. "It's giving visibility to three transsexuals who are offered as wise and funny gurus."

While gay people have become an accepted part of reality and scripted shows, the transgender community still has a long way to go. Candis Cayne gained national attention in 2007 when she became the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character on television in ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money." The following year, Isis made headlines as the first transgender contestant on "America's Next Top Model." Now, Cox, Clayton and Poon are making history in the first show on mainstream television to be built around three transgender women.

"People are saying to me, it's a breath of fresh air, the transgender community is represented in a way that's never been seen before," Cox told ABCNews.com. "We have three empowered women helping other women. That's never happened before."

The show avoids trading in stereotypes.

"A lot of people think of us as prostitutes, clowns, freaks of nature," Poon told ABCNews.com. "But we're educated and talented -- and we're gorgeous."