TV & Film | Feature Spotlight | Exclusive
TRANSworld Atlanta is an unscripted, docu-reality series focusing on four Black transgender men: Malik Brown, Ja’Mel Ashely, Shon Jackson, and Nick Devereux. The Atlanta-based series gives us an in-depth look into the struggles and triumphs of these men’s lives, relationships, and careers as they traverse through life in a cis-normative world.
TRANSworld Atlanta is the first of its kind to highlight the range of Black gender diversity which includes transmen, transwomen, gender non-conforming, and cis women individuals.
In addition, all of the perspectives shared on the show are unadulterated and directly from the cast member's point of view, a testament to the show’s emphasis on agency and owning one’s narrative.
“I think we need to keep these open discussions. That’s why I’m so excited about this show because we didn’t ask for space, we created space," said cast member and producer Malik Brown exclusively with Gaye Magazine.
"And where there are rooms that we’re not invited to…I may not be invited to the table, but if I know there’s a room that I’m supposed to be in, I’m taking the chair.”
In the series, we learn of stories and real-life experiences that are rarely given exposure in mainstream channels. We get to see one of the series' couples, Ja’Mel and Alphonso begin their journey of parenthood, which seems commonplace until you break down the dynamics of what makes this particular family unique.
Alphonso is a Black, gender non-conforming person and Ja’Mel is a Black, openly HIV positive, queer transgender man who gave birth to their child. In reality, the couple’s union as partners and parents is in direct conflict with the typical nuclear family the world is accustomed to.
It is imperative that Black trans stories such as these are shared amongst the masses, so people can expand their idea of what a “normal” family or relationship should look like.
“That’s why TRANSworld Atlanta exists because we wanted to educate people," executive producer Raquel M. R. Thomas tells us.
"We wanted you to stop assuming. We wanted you to stop listening to people that aren’t in the community at all, the goal was for them to tell their stories and not their stories being told by someone who has no damn clue."
Malik Brown chimed in, “We just wanna be loved. We’re not trying to cause any confusion. We just want to be authentically [and] unapologetically loved…you can live with HIV and still be okay…You know…just destigmatize all this stuff around transgender people. We just want to live and be treated equally. That’s all."
Each episode in the entire series captures a wide range of relatable and serious themes such as domestic violence, childhood trauma, and low self-esteem. However, what makes this show so empowering is that from these honest depictions of life, the cast members ensure there is always an opportunity for human healing and love through the obstacles they face, especially as a Black person of trans experience.
“We have to realize that love is love and we’re all human. How we identify sexually, who we sleep with, none of that determines the actual human being. I think for us...we [experience] a lot of prejudices [with] trans individuals not being accepted in the LGBTQ community already,” says Thomas.
“I think for me, the biggest takeaway that I want people to leave with is to be educated, to understand that trans lives matter…love is love.” - Raquel M. R. Thomas
After watching TRANSworld Atlanta you will surely leave with a strong resonance and insight into the humanhood of Black, trans people. Gayes, we hope y’all enjoy! TRANSworld Atlanta is available on Amazon Prime Video and Tubi. Watch the Trailer.
Check out our full exclusive interview with creator/director/executive producer Raquel M. R. Thomas and cast member/producer Malik Brown here: