With Y: The Last Man premiering next month on FX, fans are wondering how the show will update the transphobia of the original, acclaimed comic series it’s based on.
Showrunner Eliza Clark and FX chairman John Landgraf talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the book series’ problems with transphobia and how that will be different in the TV show.
“A lot has changed since the graphic novel,” Landgraf said. “One of the things the show will make clear is that there are women with two X chromosomes and men with an X and Y chromosome — but there are also women with two Y chromosomes and men with two X chromosomes.”
“So what happened was all the mammals with a Y chromosome — with the exception of this one man and this one monkey — died in one event,” he continued. “But there are numerous men in the show that had two X chromosomes, and they’re important characters. It’s also made clear that a number of women died that day who had a Y chromosome and probably didn’t even know it.”
One move the show is taking is to cast trans actor Elliot Fletcher as Sam Jordan, who is the best friend of Yorick’s sister Hero. This is a great upgrade from the comics, which barely included trans men and when it did, used slurs and violence against them. (It seems Fletcher is the only trans man in the main cast.)
But that wasn’t the only transphobic part of the original. Clark further explained that “gender is diverse and chromosomes are not equal to gender. So in our world of the show, every living mammal with a Y chromosome dies. Tragically, that includes many women. It includes nonbinary people and includes intersex people.”
“But that’s also true of the survivors,” she added. “I think every single person who is working on the show — from the writers to the directors to the cast and the crew — are making a show that affirms that trans women are women, trans men are men, nonbinary people are nonbinary, and that is part of the sort of richness of the world we get to play with.”
Landgraf also said that the show has worked closely with GLAAD and other organizations on the show. “We’ve worked really hard to get that right,” he said, “I’m confident when members of the trans community watch the show you will feel that nuance will be reflected.”
But I’m not so confident.
In none of this talk from the creators have they addressed the fact that the first episode will include a genocide of trans women. The series is also coming out at a time when in real life, at least 34 trans people, most of them Black trans women, have been murdered in the U.S. alone this year. Last year, there were 44 trans Americans killed, the most since activists started keeping track. With this year looking to far surpass that number, we have to wonder if it’s the right time to launch a TV show where all trans women are killed.
Y: The Last Man is supposed to show a world filled with mostly women, but what are women without trans women? The word “women” doesn’t really mean anything if it doesn’t include us. We’re intrinsic to womanhood, and it seems like we’ll be erased from the woman-led world of Y: The Last Man.
In this trans woman’s opinion, affirming that trans women are women would include trans women among the survivors, and sadly, that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening here. Hopefully, I’ll be proven wrong.
Y: The Last Man premieres Monday, September 13 on FX.