Our favourite gender-bending TV characters

Our favourite gender-bending TV characters

Apr 12, 2017, 02:43 AM

Our favourite gender bending TV characters

South Africa is always touted as a conservative nation - a description which we think is an unimaginative cop out and a false observation. 

Yes, there are large numbers of conservative people living among us but whenever this word is used, it serves as a code. It serves as a way of shielding closed minded people and preserving their archaic ideals. 

When referring to these conservative people, the word is usually interchangeably used alongside the word "old school" - you know, back in the day when people didn't know better and didn't have to mask their hatred and ignorance because it was still acceptable. 

But how can one be "conservative" (read: racist, homophobic, transphobic and chauvinistic) in one of the world's most diverse societies ruled by a government that claims to be fighting to build a non-racist, non-sexist nation? 

This is exactly why we at ZAlebs love the growing prevalence of gender fluid and homosexual characters in the country's biggest TV shows; especially when those characters go beyond the stereotypes that writers sometimes play on for comic effect. 

One such character is mainstream SA TV's most daring character to date, Wandile "Wandie" Hadebe played by actress Chi Mhende

Wandile Hadebe played by Chi Mhende
drum.co.za

When the character was first introduced, a lot of people commented about how they thought he looked like a girl. Little did we know, he really was a she -playing a he who struggled with the reality of being a she trapped in a he's body. Confused yet? Don't be.

Trangenderism is a very real thing and it refers to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex. Simply put, it refers to people who are born with the wrong genitalia and are thus expected to subscribe to a gender they do not identify with. 

We commend Generations for putting transgenderism front and center (as they have done with Nandi's mental health) and not rushing the storyline or sweeping it under the carpet as they have done with some of their past story lines. Believe it or not, Generations is the only place that some South Africans will ever see something like this and if the story line gives them a better understanding of it so that they are no longer unaware about it, that can only be a good thing. 

Another character who broke the mould was Brenda Ngxoli's portrayal of Vuyo in the Emmy nominated hit TV drama, Home Affairs. 

Brenda Ngoxli as Vuyo on Home Affairs
youtube.com

Vuyo was an athlete who was masculine in her appearance and behaviour but wasn't lesbian. Something which a lot of people failed to reconcile even though they might have known a woman who was/is like that. 

Instead, what people are used to seeing are characters like Chanel (Warren Masemola in Ses'Top La), Kgosi (Sello Maake ka Ncube in The Queen), Tyson (played by Lorcia Cooper on Lockdown), Damien (played by Mandla Gaduka on Ashes to Ashes and Broken Vows) and Phila (played by Oros Mampofu in Igazi). 

Warren Masemola as Chanel
ink361.com

Yes, these characters are what people are used to but seeing too much of them makes them seem as though homosexuality and gender fluidity are one-dimensional (which they are not). 

As such, we're looking forward to seeing Greed & Desire's Mo Setumo playing whatever role she'll be playing in theses shots she posted earlier today. 

Based on the costume alone, it is a major departure from the greedy glamour girl she played on the Mzansi Magic telenovela and we can't wait to find out whether or not she has the range. 

Main image credit: drum.co.za

Written by

Kay Tatyana Selisho

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