'TransAmerica' to Offer Window Into Transgender Lives

Tyra Banks and trans model Carmen Carrera team up for new show.

May 16, 2014— -- Transgender Americans are becoming ever more visible in pop culture, normalizing the way society views them.

Just this week, publicity surrounded a new eight-episode docuseries, "TransAmerica," which will be launched by the Viacom-owned network VH-1 and Tyra Banks, star of “America’s Top Model.”

The series will follow a group of millennial-aged women from Chicago who are transgender, taking a realistic look at their everyday lives and how gender identity affects their relationships and careers.

"It would be easy to focus on the transgender aspect, but this series is about so much more," Susan Levison, executive vice president programming for VH1, told the Hollywood Reporter. "This is a show about a group of compelling, gorgeous young friends who are on a unique journey while staying true to their authentic selves. We believe that message resonates."

Transgender advocates say it’s an important time for Americans to see more images of transgender people in film, television and the arts, as long as they are portrayed with depth and empathy.

“The more the public sees transgender people on TV, our hope is they’ll understand that we’ve been here the entire time,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “But there’s a right way to do it and Hollywood has a responsibility to tell transgender stories authentically.”

Carmen Carrera, an activist model who is also transgender, will star in the series, which is expected to air late this year or in early 2015. Banks is co-producer with Gay Rosenthal of “Behind the Music” and “Push Girls.”

"Being a woman means everything to me," Carrera told the Hollywood reporter. "Before my transition I felt trapped, and now I’ve been set free. Carmen has arrived and I can’t wait to share my story."