This episode is one of my favorites among the series because it addressed the important social issues towards transgenders through Sophia Burset’s backstory and stay in Litchfield Penitentiary.
Through out the episode we even see the majority of society’s views towards trans people portrayed through the shows characters. Revealing the over all confusement or distaste towards trans individuals. A major example of this is seen with the warden who refers to Burset with male pronouns and even states “Why would anyone want to give up being a man? It’s like winning the lottery and giving the ticket back”. Not only does it show that being a man in this world is its own entire privilege but also how the general public cannot understand why transgenders are the way they are so they decide to resent them for it instead.
We also gain an understanding of the discontent the inmates have towards Burset just because she’s a trans
woman. Often calling her a “he-she” or “tranny” all degrading terms for a trans person of color. During Chapman’s visitation she even mistakenly uses “transexual” rather than transgender, another term that is usually very uncomfortable for the community. Red even states how she cant understand Burset and would even amputate her sons hands if they were to ever get rid of their “baby makers”.
As we begin to see Burset’s backstory, her transition stages and finally being out, we also see the great lengths she went
to to become who she wanted to be. Even going to great lengths to steal others credit information like when she was on the job and taking pictures of the “damage”. When she was taken off her hormone pills and asked her wife to sneak them in she stated “Please, or else this was all for nothing.” Signifying she doesn’t have much regret over her actions because it allowed her to become the women she always wanted to be, which sadly turned out for the worst. Her wife displayed a lot of anger in reaction to her request even retaliating with degrading comments like “be a father to your son” and “man up“.
Even in Burset’s backstory it presented a lot of the continuing distaste towards trans people for example when she runs in to her old colleague and all he can respond when seeing her is “Oh shit..”. And her sons obvious embarrassment that his father is now a “woman” even going so far as to turn his own parent in to the police. I did find interesting that despite Porn Stauche’s immoral ways and abuse of power he of all people still understood in a way that Burset was in fact a woman now, “I live in the present not the past”.
Overall I found the episode to be very interesting and highly informative because it allowed the viewer to become aware of the many concerns faced by trans people, especially trans women of color.