A brand new TV series is premiering on Fuse, uniquely focusing on the everyday lives, struggles and overall experiences of today’s transwomen.
Produced by World of Wonder Productions (creators of “RuPaul’s Drag Race:), the show “Transcendent” will follow the lives of a diverse group of transwomen living in San Francisco.
The show will document the physical and mental struggles, as well as triumphs, of this group of women, and will shed light on their professional, personal, even romantic lives. Episodes will take a close look at how the women connect through their sisterhood of shared experiences.
An outstanding quality about Transcendent that makes the series stand out from other trans community-focused shows is the diversity of the cast. L.A., Nya, Bionka, Bambiana, and Xristina are everyday women who both struggle with and take pride in being transgender, as well as being racial minorities.
The show — which makes its debut on Fuse on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 11:30pm/10:30c — features two Filipinas (Nya and L.A.), two Latinas, and an African-American woman, who are all connected through the world-famous AsiaSF Cabaret & Restaurant in San Francisco.
“At first, I didn’t want to be a part of it; I didn’t even think it would happen,” Nya, 31, told the Asian Journal. “I love to dance and to entertain people; that’s what I do. But having my personal life so public, on blast, is kind of weird for me.”
Nya (pronounced na-ya), from Hayward, California, has been working at the club since she was 19 years old, and was promoted to a managerial position. Confidently knowing she has been female her whole life, she has never struggled with self-identity and her family has been very accepting of who she is.
“Transitioning was a bit rocky, but it’s not because they didn’t accept me. Looking back, I think my mother was hard on me because she was just trying to protect me from bullies,” Nya said. “A lot happens in the transgender community, especially to women of color.”
She talked about the negative labels being both trans and Filipino–“In Filipino culture, they still call us ‘bading,’ which means gay. But we’re not gay. We’re trying to ban these stereotypes.”
Nya expressed her hopes for the future of the transgender community, especially with the premiere of the new show.
“I was always kind of scared because I am going to be out there for people to criticize. Some people may like me, and some may not. But I’m doing this for the future generations of trans people who will watch. Now, transgender people are in the forefront of media. Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox…I’m very grateful that there are so many role models in our community that the youth can look up to.”
“We’ve been out there, but we just haven’t been visible. We are learning to exercise our voices and be who we truly are.”
Nya is very open on the show, which captures everything from her personal struggles to her romantic endeavors, all on camera. As a leader of the girls, she especially loves to express herself through dance–a regular part of AsiaSF cabaret life.
“Dancing has always been my outlet for not worrying about self-identifying myself, bullying, and hate,” she said. “When I’m performing, I feel like this is the one place that I can really be myself. I feel accepted and I feel beautiful.”
The show also follows the newest and youngest of the group, L.A.,–whose real name is Lauren Anthony–who is just starting with her transition, guided by her new friends at AsiaSF.
“While her new friends have become like family, L.A. is still faced with the prospect of telling her own family about her transition,” read a Transcendent synopsis from Fuse.
“Looking at these girls, they’re all gorgeous, strong, and proud of who they are,” said L.A., who became a part of ‘Transcendent’ through Nya, a longtime friend in the community. “And that’s who I want to be.”
The show follows L.A.’s transition, her regular visits to the doctor, the audition process for AsiaSF, as well as her personal struggle coming out as a woman to her family. She recently moved to San Francisco from the Philippines.
“I was never really exposed to the transgender community; growing up, I was always identified as a ‘gay male.’ I didn’t know any better,” L.A. told Asian Journal. “I know Filipinos mean well–as a culture, we are all about togetherness and being a family, and no matter what, my family has always been supportive of me. They still love me, as long as I don’t step on anyone’s toes.”
L.A. also talked about the ongoing discrimination and prejudices in the community.
“It’s time that society knows we transgender women exist. Oftentimes, we are seen as a fantasy, or just different, not normal,” she said. “With the show, we want viewers to see how transwomen live their life, not any different from anyone else. To see that we are all human and it’s okay to be yourself and to be happy and not let anyone judge you.”
Regarding her new acceptance and journey towards becoming herself, she simply said, “It all comes down to just being yourself and owning who you are, making the most of your lives.”
Nya also talked about her life’s ambition. “To love and be loved,” she says in the pilot episode, “that’s what everybody in life wants, really…and hopefully great shoes.”