Terminator Terminates Transgender TV Cliches

By GLAAD |
December 16, 2008

A network television drama that features a transgender person who's not a victim or killer? Who knew it was possible? Guest blogger Nick Adams couldn't believe his eyes, either.

[Warning: The following post contains plot details and spoilers, so if you haven't seen the episode yet, stop reading now!]

Last night's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles featured a transgender woman in the episode titled, "Earthlings Welcome Here."  In the hour, Sarah Connor is trying to find a blogger named Abraham.  She meets a woman named Eileen who claims to have information about Abraham. Eventually Eileen trusts Sarah enough to remove her wig and reveal that her former name was Alan Park and she is the blogger known as "Abraham." Because she blogged about her work, men tried to kill her. So at first, Eileen says that she is living as a woman because, "My life was in danger.  I needed to hide."  However, as Eileen and Sarah continue to bond, Eileen reveals more about herself.  She says, referring to her former employers, "They did kill me. They killed Alan Park. And I thank them for that. They gave me a gift -- the life I was scared to lead."  She continues on to say, "How many people dare to live the life they dream of...their deepest, truest selves."  Later, as Eileen risks exposure by telling Sarah about where she worked, she says, "No matter what happens, I'm never going back to what I was."

Unfortunately, [again, spoiler alert] her bravery does result in her death, as her former employers discover her and kill her.  However, unlike the majority of the transgender women seen on television, she is not killed simply because she is transgender.  In this episode, the transgender woman is a graduate of M.I.T., a scientist, and brave enough to risk death to help Sarah Connor find the men who are doing bad things.

Science-fiction shows have traditionally not been LGBT-inclusive.  Recently, Britain broke new ground with the Captain Jack Harkness character in Torchwood, and now Battlestar Galactica is revealing in its new webisodes that Lieutenant Gaeta is gay.  It's good to see Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles joining the list of science-fiction shows that include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in these worlds.

Full episodes of Terminator are available on Fox's official site.