A Letter to Ilene Chaiken From Trans Computer Search Champion Max Sweeney

This article was originally written in February 2009 for Riese’s blog, before the Autostraddle we know and love got invented. It has been reprinted here for you.

Hi! It’s me Riese. As you’ll see in 8 hours when I post the recap [UPDATE: 604 on Autostraddle and on The L Word Online] — this week’s recap is gonna be a little bit different. I’m not gonna recap any of Max’s scenes. This is ’cause I feel no representation is better than bad representation. I think this portrayal is intentionally defamatory and I don’t want to participate in it. (e.g., I’d prefer complete bisexual invisibility to A Double Shot at Love with the Ikki Twins.) So I have a letter to Ilene from Max Sweeney for you.

Before I begin — it seems many people don’t much care about Max anymore. He’s been so separated from everything else and most of y’all just wanna see Bette & Tina have babies and Shane fuck girls, so I’m fully prepared for no-one to read this or comment. BUT if even one or two people find this interesting, or disagree or agree, I’m really interested in your opinion! I only know so much! … and maybe even in doing a longer story on this topic at some point for a real publication.

Tonight’s episode (604) will focus heavily on Max and emphasize his “other-ness,” as exaggerated by the new RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES pregnancy storyline.

“Trans people have the potential to transform the gender class system as we know it. Our existence challenges the conventional wisdom that the differences between men and women are primarily a product of biology. Trans people can wreak havoc on such taken-for-granted concepts as feminine and masculine, homosexual and heterosexual, because those words are rendered virtually meaningless when a person’s biological sex and lived sex are not the same. But because we are a threat to the categories that enable male and heterosexual privilege, the images and experiences of trans people are presented in the media in a way that reaffirms, rather than challenges, gender stereotypes.”

  • Julia Serano, “Skirt Chasers” from BITCH Magazine, Fall 2004

Dear Ilene,

I haven’t written you since that mass email I sent out instructing everyone to call me Max instead of Moira but now I have some issues I’d like to get off my chest. First of all, I want you to remember that unlike the other characters I haven’t complained about anything this whole time, even you making me the only character on this show who has no interest in dating women, which is what the show is supposed to be about!

I felt like things started out okay. I was able to raise some important issues around class, for example. Things began to go awry when my transition began — I suddenly became conservative and abusive? — but things were getting better with us in Season Five. When Jenny called me “The Oracle,” I felt really cool, you know?  But now you’re making me pregnant? I’m upset. It seems like the only personality trait you want to give me is dysphoria. Yes, I experience it in droves. But my feelings about this pregnancy are not limited to “it makes me loathe my ‘womanly body’.” I’m upset ’cause the way I’ve been portrayed throughout this pregnancy seems to be an attempt to make me as “freakish” and as different from other characters as you possibly can, when I thought I came onto this show to be the opposite of that. This season, I’ll be physically playing out this imposed freakishness … to the max. Pun intended.

There aren’t many people like me on TV, so this is your golden opportunity to break barriers and explore some very interesting issues relating to gender, sexuality, and, yes, class. According to GLAAD’s annual report, I AM THE ONLY trans guy ON CABLE! But instead of integrating me into your show, you’ve progressively emphasized how my differences make me at odds with the lesbian community and you are now encouraging my violent self-loathing by bestowing upon me this outrageously uncomfortable pregnancy. My facial hair has evolved like a haphazard game of Wooly Wally. My wardrobe now consists of a cheap pregnancy suit and weather-immune grungy flannel shirts. I’m dating an external character three steps removed from the core cast (Bette –> Jodi –> Tom) who no one cares abut him either. I’ve become just another one of the dozen or so male characters who’ve started on this show, become assholes, and then disappeared. Clearly, that’s all men are capable of doing in your world. I agree that cis white straight men need to be taken down a few notches, but I deserve no such treatment.

Ilene, it’s really not likely that a trans guy regularly taking testosterone would accidentally get pregnant. I know you got excited when you saw that man on Oprah, but he did that on purpose, he’d actually been off T for a while and had gone off it specifically to enable pregnancy. Trans guys do have babies, but it’s generally quite intentional!

I’m really good-looking, regardless of gender, btw. It’s hard to ignore the additional damage you’ve done to ensure I don’t match up to the rest of the people on our WeHo Pretty People Party Show. You could’ve let me be a beautiful trans man comfortable in his own skin and instead you’ve made me look like Paul Bunyan with a potbelly!

Anyhow, taking testosterone during pregnancy can cause harm (birth defects) in the fetus. It’s possible that I would’ve miscarried by now! Besides, anyone as aware of their body as I am would’ve noticed these changes way before the four month mark. I’m hyper-aware of every centimeter added to my pectorals, I just might notice something happening in the abdominal area. Also — morning sickness, anyone?

So what’s going on? I’m a human, I’m not a blank slate for you to play out your fake acceptance while ridiculing me, ostracizing me from the rest of the cast, and continually burdening me with storylines that make me unrelatable, unlikeable, and at this point, unbelievable. By forcing this unrealistic story upon me, I can only conclude that you wish to make me as freakish as possible, to ensure no one walks away from this show thinking that there’s any place for trans people in popular LGBTQ culture or social life.

One of the intentions of increased visibility for marginalized groups is to make the majority aware that despite our beautiful differences, we share some common struggles. We’re all human, no matter what our labels are. Instead, you’ve gone beyond labeling me to stamping me, packing me up, and selling me to spruce up the garden.

I’d hoped perhaps you intended to give my pregnancy the same beautiful treatment you gave Tina’s — but no. There will be no transformation, this won’t enable growth or maturity. You’re just making me into a more depressed and lonelier asshole, like I’m being punished for wanting to transition. You’re also continuing to paint me as violent, another stereotype of trans men.

I want to fit in. I want to be happy too. I have more desires than “wanting to be a man,” that’s not my only personality trait. I can also want love, friendship, career success, Guitar Hero cheat codes, etc.

Sometimes I feel like I’m just this strange freakshow to you, like you may as well put me in a circus sideshow! I’m the Bearded Lady with the Baby! That’s stupid!


P.S. I know how to use Google, btw. I think you’re projecting.
P.P.S. Good job with OurChart.
P.P.P.S. Thor from now on, thanks.
P.P.P.P.S. I Hate The L Word.

“Since transgenders in this culture are neither fairly nor accurately represented in the media, nor championed by a community, we develop our world views in solitude.”
Kate Bornstien, Gender Outlaw

“Max was usually treated as an outsider in the story, and a fair amount of that bled onto me personally from a few people I had to work with.”
Daniella Sea

“The freakshow motif was intended as an ironic reflection on the history of Cultural representations of transsexuality, which have always been imbued with an essential sense of freakishness and marginality.”
on Kate Bornstein’s play – Hidden: A Gender

“Gay brothers and sisters,…You must come out. Come out … come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake …”
Harvey Milk

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3203 articles for us.


  1. dear max,
    this was great, i am proud of you for writing it and i am glad that riese won’t be reapping your scenes. while i was doing research myself into the possibility of your pregnancy, i actually felt really sad that the only representation of FTMs was turned into such a side show. good job with your computer search it’s amazing what a little effort can find.

    much love,

  2. I completely agree with everything you said. It’s sad to see story with so much potential turn into something that is now viewed with little respect.

    I know you said no one cares about Max and I think that’s what sucks the most about this. His storyline could be so much more interesting and it could be a learning experience for many lesbians who watch the show. Personally, I don’t know any transgendered people, so this could’ve been an opportunity to see things from their point of view, especially since they go through many of the same alienating feelings as we do.

  3. Thank you for this, Riese.

    As a lesbian mother of a teen ftm, trans visibility is an issue I’m passionate about. At first, I was elated about having the Moira/Max thing addressed. Tried getting my kid to watch the show a few seasons back (“see, there ARE people like you on television!”), in the hopes of baby stepping toward garnering a sense of community, which he is sadly lacking… but Max’s portrayal has turned into such a farce, and is now yet another glaring symbol of the ignorance regarding transpeople – within the gay community, even. My kid has boycotted the show completely.

    Ilene could have used her powers for good but choosing the tabloid approach has helped reinforce the Freakshow That Is Trans mentality. For shame, Ilene, for shame.

  4. I think that of all the horrible things IC has done to the characers/storylines, what she has done to Max is the worst travesty of them all. Max started out as a likeable character, and was more masculine and realistic then (as Moira)… now he is just a caricature. I have transmen friends and it makes me embarrassed to even talk about the show in their presence. It’s insulting. I think you should send this letter to IC for real.

  5. Ilene doesn’t understand the actual power she has over the LGBT community. I can’t imagine her not being ostracized for this.
    She has turned the entire show into a joke.

  6. Brava! The way Max’s character has been dealt with makes me ashamed to say I’m a fan of The L Word. And that’s saying a lot considering all the other crazy shit that has and continues to go on.

  7. Completely, totally agree. I can get over many of the dumb choices IC's made with the L Word (Dana, etc.) It's annoying, but still just an artistic decision. But Max is downright offensive.

    >y'all just wanna see Bette & Tina have babies and Shane fuck girls

    This really gets me. I love Bettina, I don't mind watching Shane have sex, but I sometimes get the feeling that that's all that L Word fans want. Sex, sex and more sex. Look – if I just wanted to see girls fucking each other, I’d go watch a porno! The L Word should have been transgressive, challenging our ideas about sexuality and gender. Sometimes it was. But often, and Max is the worst example, TLW just exploited ‘freaks’ for entertainment.

    Thanks for writing this, and by all means write more! Some of us do care.

  8. Sometimes Chaiken’s choices have annoyed me and, even more often, left me scratching my head in confusion. However, I never once believed her choices to be intentionally evil and damaging. Max’s pregnancy storyline, though, is cruel and irresponsible from a woman who repeatedly demands that the LGBT community respect her and TLW because it has made visible the invisible. I like Max. Ilene went to the trouble of creating Max to be the only character on the show who has been a person of honor and principle. Now, she has made Max a laughingstock because she and her writers lacked enough imagination to fill up a sixth season. Shame on them all.

  9. I am so happy you wrote this, can’t wait to see the actual recap of this shitstorm. You can feel free to leave out all the Bette/Tina parts too; those aren’t as abhorrent as Max’s but are pretty terrible too.

    What confuses me a lot w/r/t the L Word is that … on most shows, when the storylines get terrible or the writing starts to decline, the fans get angry and someone is held accountable. Tim Kring, showrunner of “Heroes,” has given several highly publicized statements apologizing for various problems w/ the show and reassuring fans that it will get better. The “Lost” dudes have done it too. Even “Grey’s Anatomy,” to an extent (and I think they’re due for another round of apologies but that’s neither here nor there) has apologized for crappy storylines and eventually gotten rid of them.

    So why is Ilene never held accountable? Two producers from “Heroes” were fired last year because the show was in the crapper. Why does Ilene get to run around and make a mess of the Only Lesbian Drama We Have and then get to scoff in our faces when we ask for an explanation? Do we blame Showtime? The media? Maybe no one cares about this show as much as the major network dramas.

    I blame Ilene, for all of it. For never caring whether like her show or not, just knowing that we’ll keep tuning in. So maybe it’s our fault?

    No, no. It’s her fault. Definitely her fault. Her hubris smackdown will come soon enough, right? She has to be public enemy #1 on most lesbians’ lists, right? Bleh.

  10. Very well said!

    To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of Max, but this is ridiculous. He was just starting to get interesting too, and just when it looked like I was going to start to care about the character, this happens. I thought when Ilene said she wanted there to be representation of the transgendered community….I dunno….she was actually going to try to have GOOD representation of the transgendered community!

  11. Awesome. I mean, just awesome. Someone should pass this link along to someone…
    Well said for sure. The whole thing.

    Also, I appreciate Carly’s comment. holler.

  12. Thanks so much for writing this Riese. I was a little sad that there was no mention of Max in the recap but I totes agree with you for leaving it out.

    Carlytron – Im with you…she’ll have whats coming to her.


    PS Riese; want Ilene’s email address?

  13. I’m glad you brought this up, because so many recapers/viewers really don’t discuss Max, and he’s one of my favorite characters. However, this story line is just ridiculous crap piled on crap.

    Max’s character use to be the voice of reason, but now he barely interacts with anyone, let alone dishes out sound advise. He has not been allowed to develop any community/network of friends within the trans community (outside of one support group episode) or any relationships where his significant other doesn’t disappear (yes, I’m referring to Grace, who was hott, and I miss her).

    Also, THANK YOU for pointing out the fact that he never could have gotten pregnant in the first place. Regardless of the type of sex he chooses to have with his (gay male) partner, the hormones he is on would have restricted his ability to conceive, not just masked ovulation (as discussed in the link you provided). PLUS, I highly doubt someone who was going through a very intense medical procedure like transitioning would be that unaware of the very obvious physical changes to his body that a pregnancy would induce. Of course, that’s logical, and logic is not a part of TLW.

    I’m really sad about how much I hate this show. I tried to watch it for the story, but then attempting to make sense of the plot made my brain hurt, so I settled for watching it for the sex. And being that the sex has gone way of the story, now I can’t figure out why I’m still watching it.

    Also, I have to agree with Carly, why hasn’t anyone been held accountable for the disaster that is The L Word has become?

    [Also, I’m sorry if this comment has become excessively long and redundant… I’m still pissed that I woke up this morning and the first thing I thought was “FUCK YOU ILENE!” instead of “Man, I could really go for a bagel” like normal.]

  14. I just kept thinking, a couple seasons back when Max’s storyline started to dry up and he started to be treated like a second-class citizen by the girls, “Theres’s gotta be a point to it. She’s gonna go somewhere with this.” And now I see that she had a choice to bring him back, have him stand up for himself, and make a name for himself in the trans community. We had to see the bad before we saw him overcome. But no. Not even close. SHe went the total other way and for some reason has made a joke out of him. Not even a joke, a spectacle, because like another commenter said, I don’t think she did this on purpose. Does she care enough about the LGBTQ community to consider the GBTQs? All she cares about are the straight up lesbians and bisexual women. No respect for the others.

    I just can’t wrap my mind around WHAT HER PLAN IS FOR HIM. COULD THIS REALLY BE IT? PREGGO MAN, ENDS UP LOVING BABY AND THAT’S THE END? She’s done an ok job IN A FEW INSTANCES tackling some REAL ISSUES THAT LESBIANS DEAL WITH AND WANT TO SEE DEALT WITH WITH STRENGTH AND GRACE, but this is an ultimate fail. All I can say is I just can’t believe she thinks this story line is a good idea or AT ALL RELATIVE TO THE AVERAGE TRANS PERSON.

    Sorry for all the caps, that’s when I was really heated…

  15. Hey dudes! I’m so happy that people responded to this and agree with me. I feel like I’ve been screaming into a void about Max for a long time, I tried broaching the topic on another message board where I was completely ignored in favor of people talking about their favorite TiBette sex scenes.

    I too feel that Max’s storyline had INCREDIBLE potential! I was so excited, and I think Daniella Sea is super super hot, though they’ve ruined that.

    Though I think the idea of him dating a man is complicated and interesting, it would’ve been better to pair max up with one of the girls in the cast simply because that would’ve integrated him into the cast and the social world of the other characters more. It’s like they keep pushing him to the side, to be like “we have a transman on our show!” but the truth is if you take him out of the show, nothing else is affected, he’s been totally sidelined onto the margins. So this latest blow was just too much for me to handle.

    kerry, your comment gave me goosebumps.

    And I’m interested to hear about people who have strange feelings about this show w/r/t their trans friends — I have wondered if any transpeople could even stand to watch this show.

    a few new points that were brought up that i wanted to respond to (to everyone i give a general “WORD”/RIGHT ON)–

    Brianna – I totally get what you’re saying about L word fans wanting more sex and that being all they want — I think at least personally at this point the show is so terrible that the only time I’m entertained is when people are naked. If the show was better and had good writing like season one, then I wouldn’t care. But now I’m like, look, let’s just cut to the chase.

    carlytron – you’re right, i hadn’t thought about it in that context before. I mean she’s sort of apologized for Dana, but its like she’s too proud to apologize for anything else? I mean, this is what the world is seeing of how lesbians handle their shows? for shame, for real. I do believe that when this show is said and done, she’ll have a hard time getting a job. It does remind me of G.W. in some ways — like she’s so universally loathed by her audience that at this point admitting defeat would just be humiliating.

    And Julia I agree, I wanted Grace to be integrated into the cast. Even their storyline was so separate, he could’ve had her integrated into the show better, there was no need to make them so separate. and last season seemed to be getting better. It’s like Ilene snaps back whenever she thinks she gets too good.

    Leah – I agree with everything you have said for sure, but I’d like to add that actually I don’t think she’s done right by the bissexuals either. That’s a whole ‘nother article (I think AE did one actually) but it’s been similarly unflattering and demeaning. So yeah I’d say pretty much she cares about lesbians, period, and that’s it.

    i have so many thoughts and feelings right now, that’s just some of them.

  16. i was wondering about how you could have both a beard (i.e. be on testosterone) and grow a baby at the same time. unsurprising to learn that you can’t…

    i’d love to ask IC what the fuck she’s been thinking with Max’s character and where exactly she’s coming from. at the moment he reads like a quasi-satiric lampoon. and there’s something kind of nasty about it. like Chaiken herself never got beyond gender studies 101, is stuck in some retro-separatist mindset, and can’t cope with the concept of transgender. how else can you explain such an offensive portrayal?

  17. I totally agree with everything you’ve written. What a shame that someone in a position to really make a difference to the way in which trans people are portrayed in our society, has abused this and contributed to the level of ignorance and discrimination that already exists. Aren’t we supposed to be trying to open peoples’ minds for the BETTER?

  18. thank you! thank you! someone had to say this! i hope ilene reads this and realizes how she seriously fucked up a beautiful opportunity with max.

  19. Wow…..I am so glad I read this letter, Max/Reise.

    For its entire duration Moria/Max’s storyline has intrigued me *theorically* yet bored me in reality, and I couldn’t really put my finger on why that was. This may make me sound like an obtuse idiot, but until I read your words:

    “ostracizing me from the rest of the cast, and continually burdening me with storylines that make me unrelatable, unlikeable, and at this point — science-fiction level 100% unbelievable.”

    … I didn’t realise that the show has actively made creative decisions that make me not care, and make me think of Max as even more of an outsider. And as a mixed race gay man, I have always considered myself as being especially sensitive to feeling ‘other’…I guess I got distracted.

    *sigh* I still love this show – more so than many of my lesbian and bi female friends even – and it sucks to have the show end with such horribly treatment of this character.
    In all fairness, it is a drama, and as such it is normal and even desirable to have unlikeable characters – and heck, perhaps Ilene and the powers that be even _wanted_ to make Max so very ‘other’, to reflect the reality of how many transpeople are treated, even today, and even within the greater GLBTQ ommunity. Buuuut, it all boils down to the fact that, because this is such a flagship show for the community, The L Word has a responsiblity (regardless of whether or not it is actually _fair_ to expect all of our collected frustrtated desires from lack of decent representation to manifest in one perfect show..perhaps in time, with more shows like this we can have that luxury, but not now) to do as much for advocacy as it can – so any character that the writers take the time to conceive of and develop, has to be to be relatable in some way.

    My point? Thank you Riese :)

    And sorry if this was a bit repeatitive…am tired but really REALLY wanted to comment.

  20. You’ve said everything here that I’ve been running around saying lately, except more eloquently, with more humor, and with better quotes.

    Props to you.

  21. Thank you Riese and thanks to everyone who commented here. This thread makes me feel a little better about this crazy world.

  22. thank you for writing this, illene has been trashing alot of story lines’ and max was one of the few reasons i kept watching…

  23. SO SO right! My intelligence is insulted by the “Max” story line. Sheesh Ilene! You had a great group of characters to begin with. Then just like some psychotic psychiatrist fucked them by introducing impossibilities to the scene. I hope someone else writes a great story that gives fair rep. to the transgendered. Especially the F to M. I have friends who have gone through this change; if we are going to be a free world we need knowledge and acceptance to be our guides.

  24. Thank you for this!
    Each and every one who’s watched TLW should read this, especially the more or less “straight” people like me.
    Funny how I’ve never even dreamt of thinking about transgender as freaks, yet, clearly, IC for the sake of drama (? or WHY else) decided to take it this way. Oh *sigh*
    Thanks again! x

  25. Ah this is amazing! You just totally articulated everything thats wrong about max’s portrayal.
    I also feel like max’s tokenistic inclusion in the cast is awful. Lesbians/bisexual characters are so often relegated to play the token minority, i would’ve hoped that the first female queer show would spare other minorities the offense.

  26. Couldnt agree more with this. Its just another example of Ilene Chaikens inablity to get out of the way of her own work. She needs to understand that what she does matters and amature hour is over. What happens on The L word is important to lots of people for lots of reasons, not her ego and childish art school fantasies of shaking us all up! Nice to see also that you have gone to the trouble of doing the research that Ilene clearly wasnt up to, or avoided so as not to clash with her ridiculous stories. This season has thus far been turgid, and i cant help but feel that in better hands, it may have been a well developed show with character consistency and storyline arcs that made a lick of sense, ya know, the stuff we have come to expect from decent shows. its such a shame because the show seemed to find its feet a bit more in the fourth and fifth seasons. now its all basically a murder mystery which WILL NOT EVEN BE SOLVED! Jesus Christ Ilene, enough is enough!

  27. Riese and Max, well said. All of it. I was really interested in this character first as androgynous/butch and then as transgender. There seemed to be a hell of an opportunity to have some representation for either group. It got sadder and sadder how the whole storyline was handled. Yet, I tried not to give up hope on Max’s character. And this last thing of Tom leaving him like that is the latest in a string of cruel things to do to a character. It’s just awful treatment. As a showrunner, you are supposed to respect your characters (and their development). Nothing of that here.

    (Apart from getting pregnant while on T, how is it possible that Max has a full beard, yet his arms and legs are nearly hairless? Did I really just ask that…?)

    We should have the strength to just not watch any new project IC does unless she can prove that she means it when she claims she wants GLBTQ visibility and representation. Even if it is a show about women in prison…

    Thank you so much for this.

  28. This was a wonderful, well thought out article. I am not overly invested in the max storyline and yet still find it extremely disappointing. Mostly b/c..well for two reasons, really. Most importantly b/c as you said there are virtually NO other representations of transexuals on TV and b/c of that it is true Ilene has a responsibility to portray Max positively or at the very least, accurately! My other issue is just simply that I think Daniella Sea is a lovely person from everything I can gather, mostly from reading her myspace blogs. & it saddens me to hear that b/c of her storyline she feels isolated from the rest of the cast.
    I do have to agree though that as someone else pointed out, that transexuals are certainly not the only group portrayed badly…there is an excellent article on AE as someone mentioned about how dismally bisexuals are portrayed (or rather not portrayed)…I wrote a similar article for another site.
    Anyway, it's preposterous that she couldn't even manage to get the facts straight as far as someone not being able to get pregnant while taking T or just didn't care. I hadn't realized that until reading this article. Oh and I found this article through a link on AE btw so ppl are def. paying attention. Good work, hope you do really send it on to Ilene.

  29. so true! i was really hoping max would finally get back on his feet (if he was ever on them, poor guy) and that the rest of the characters, notably alice, would overcome their transphobia, but no such luck. wasn’t that why this show was done in the first place? aarrrgh!

  30. Found this link from afterellen just now. Amazingly well-written and so perfectly truthful. Oh, and what about the fact that it’s not impossible to get an abortion after in your fourth month? I mean, really, Ilene? You should send this letter to Ilene.

    I love the new name, Thor. :)

  31. Well said!! This season mama chaiken has really hit some shitty lows. I *heart* my trans brothers and sisters. Why is she hurting them so with this garbage??

    It would have been better if she just quit before she completely ruined it. Damn you Chaiken!

  32. Yes yes and yes.

    I used to think Max was one of the hottest characters on the show, and was actually invested in his storyline. Now it’s embarrassing to watch him. His writing sucks and his beard is so big it is literally out of this world. I’m really disappointed in the L Word.
    If you can, you really should send this to the L Word or Chaiken or whoever might listen.

    I know, it’s just a tv show, but Max is the only fictional trans character out there- he ought to be a credit to the trans community, not a two-dimensional joke.

  33. Thank you so much for writing this. I hope that you send this to Ilene. As a bisexual, I’ve got my own bone to pick with her, but what she’s done with the Max character has really been shameful. I get that the show is about lesbians, and that the show is a fantasy soap opera, and that is fine. But because this show is prominent and the only one of its kind, she has a real responsibility to the larger LGBT community and how she portrays its people. And she’s more or less completely dropped the ball on that. Someone has to make her own this, especially since she’s always patting herself on the back for the show being “groundbreaking.”

  34. thank you for putting this up! the “developement” of max’ character is not only an example of missed opportunities, it has become a real insult – if IC would have had the balls to pull it through, max could have been someone that would have changed tv history, giving the l-word the chance to live up to its reputation, i.e. truly being a show that cares and that makes a differance… nowadays i wish sometimes IC never introduced max to the audience, cause if u cannot make it right, you better step off and leave it to people who know how to write a decent storyline… but who am i kdding? i’ll watch it till the end, and being the optimist that i am i hope it will all turn out right, right?

    again, thanks for writing this letter…

  35. I have not often thought of my trans brothers and sisters, I have a young person at my church who is transitioning FTM and I have been talking about who he is and who God made him to be. I think the Max story line does nothing to help his sense of self or anyone else, thanks for the letter and I like the name Thor much more then the Max thing.

  36. Thank you so much! This story line has just gone from bad to worse. IC’s uneducated, sensational, and down-right ridiculous portrayal of trans people is shameful. Well stated Thor.

  37. I am disheartened, horrified, irritated, and flat out angry that IC thinks this is how Max should be portrayed. IC’s choices for this season suggest to me that she must be having personal problems in her own life – seriously – how could she screw this show up this badly? It has never been stellar – never been a series to set the bar higher save for the invisible-made-visible factor but any drama about lesbians could have done that. It’s not enough to do that. IC had a responsibility to our community – she had an opportunity – and she has blown it completely. Every single character this season is behaving in unpredictable, offensive ways. Alice’s psuedo-coaching but actual contemptuous approach with Tasha, Max’s pregnancy, which indeed is the worst thing about this season, Shane and Jenny – I’m sorry Riese not to be in agreement on Shenny – but for me as for many those two do not work – Jenny alone is reason enough to despise the show (she killed a dog to meet a vet – come on!) – the constant dropping of characters, the underuse of Pam Grier, what is the deal with IC and men in general – why are all men terrible – if that’s the attitude that is shown as the lesbian way – how can we expect acceptance? I hope you write an article about Max and when the show ends and we don’t find out who killed Jenny, I hope you write an article about IC – a scathing article that delineates how she disappointed us and let us down. For the record, I will not buy a ticket to an L Word movie b/c though even now I care enough about the impact this show has on the views of others to write this comment, I stopped caring about these characters two seasons ago.

  38. This should be sent to Chaiken ASAP!

    the things she did to Max’s character are unforgivable.

    someone should start a crusade against her.

  39. If you haven’t already, you REALLY should send this to Ilene. That was incredibly written and really depicted the absurdity of the storylines she came up with. Great job Riese!

  40. I’m really glad someone wrote this! I always loved Max, but his storyline keeps getting stranger. I know a few people complain that his FTM character exists just to give lip service to another component of queer experience, but there is the potential to do so much more!

  41. yes and no,

    I can understand the need of being seen happy in shows, that’s a big point. And you are completily right regarding the fact that Ilene did chos to make Max aside from the rest of the L word cast.

    I wouldn’t had let Max kept the baby, that’s non sence, you can’t really want to be a man and at the same time want to be a mother. I imagine that Max would have liked to be eventually a dad ! But I can’t really tell as I’m not in this situation and even tho, that’s really personnal. That’s why we can’t really blame Ilène for this choice, that was hers, and then obviously that was representing only one point of view.

    For the part of Max / Thor /… Why? What’s your point, i mean that’s just a name, if you are speaking about a caracter maybe it would help focus to stay on the right battle. And I would say the same reflection for the PPPS…I hate the L world. One’s again what’s the point !

    Finally your letter needs to be heard because you are defending a good cause but please keep doing it with passion not hate. Sounds kliché I know but then you’ll fell in the same easiness that Ilene fell in by putting aside Max. Sorry my english is not so good and I’m filling the limit, I hope your letter will be read ;-)


  42. Didn’t read through all the comments, so I apologize if this is repetitive, but…you wrote this note from Max’s POV, not Moira and not Daniella Sea. YET! You refer to being upset and not complaining ‘…like the other girls’. A man would not say ‘other’ as though he is one. He would say, ‘…like the girls’. Just a thought!

  43. Dear Thor, I’m very sorry that you’re the victim of Ilene loosing her mind! Please remember: she doesn’t know what she’s doing anymore. I think we should admit her.

  44. there are a lot of plot-lines in this story that are un-believable.

    The max story-line got unbelievable to my once he kicked tom in the “balls”. Domestic violence to lets have a baby, is totally unrealistic. Lets not forget that stupid fight they had, which only conveyed that fags are scared and immature.

  45. i’m not sure if anyone has mentioned this yet, but i was just reading the “new” ourchart which is sho.com and ilene answers this question about her own “thought process” re: max. yikes.

    02/24/2009 11:18 AM NIC: What was the writers’ thought process of having Max get pregnant?

    ILENE: The character of Max has always given us the opportunity to tell stories about the transgender community that are usually overlooked or ignored in the media. Moreover, we always strive to tell stories that are authentic, within the confines of an hour-long television show. Pregnancy while taking testosterone is something that really happens—and not just in the tabloids, as Max points out. Max’s pregnancy also allows us to explore another idea of family and parenting, just as we’re able to do with Bette, Tina and Angelica.

  46. I just want to correct one thing. Saying it’s totally impossible to get pregnant on testosterone is not true…it’s happened to a few trans men I know of–one of whom had a trans female partner who also was on hormones. It’s certainly not very likely to conceive…but some trans men continue to ovulate on testosterone.

  47. I agree with a lot of the comments, but a few ENRAGE me. Why should Max be with Grace “or one of the girls” instead of with Tom or another man? That is heterosexism, plain and simple…he is a trans MAN, why couldn’t he be a GAY trans man? Lots of former lesbians who transition in the FTM direction find that either a. their OBJECT CHOICE changes, but they are still queer/gay (ie they still want to be in a same-gender dynamic, so after transitioning they date other queer boys instead of queer girls), OR that prior to transition, they always felt more like a gay man than a lesbian anyway, but had no way to express this IN A FEMALE BODY. After all, it’s bad enough being forced to live in a woman’s body when you are male-identified; it’s even worse to be the “woman” in a typical male/female heterosexual relationship in that kind of situation. I have my own gender dysphoria issues, and have ALWAYS felt more like a sissy boy than like a “tough dyke” or a “girly girl”, and I usually date other girls in the same boat. But I knew that if I had the courage to transition (AND the extra inches of height that would keep me from looking ridiculous; I’m four foot ten) I would not hesitate to date other sissy boys who were BOYS, although dating a boy as the “girl” I am regarded by society as now REPULSES me. The Max and Tom thing is therefore COMPLETELY understandable to me. What isn’t is the absolutely DEGRADING and disgusting tabloid pregnancy thing that IC has put Max through. Awful, awful, awful. By the way, it is also irritating how many other plots in the L Word AND shows where there is a token lesbian centers around baaaaabies…as if all lesbians were baby-crazed harpies. Ick.

  48. Well-written article.

    I’m a gay trans man with ZERO experience in the lesbian community. And this article sadly reminds me of all the times people in the lesbian community at the (theoretically) all-female college I went to have tried to make me into a “proper” butch- even though I have never been sexually attracted to women. I even had one woman tell me that I should read Janice Raymond’s The Transsexual Empire and basically STFU and be a lesbian. I had crazy, Jenny-esque female stalkers on campus who would try to either seduce me or harass me into being the HOT BUTCH DYKE everyone wanted. Because of my sexual orientation and my disability, people made up the acronym “TUG” (Trans Until Graduation) for me- and had the balls to tell trans speakers coming to campus that I had gone back to being a girl (which was BULLSHIT- and many of the other FtM’s were on my side!)

    It’s as if Irene got lost in the 1970’s and never came back. I have a feeling if the show were to have gone on, Max would have de-transitioned back to Moira because OF THE WOMYN-UNIFYING FEELING OF CHILDBIRTH!!!! *gag*

    I will never get pregnant. EVER. I have zero interest in being a dad (and, training to be a high school teacher, I’m going to be raising everyone else’s kids anyway)- small children drive me nuts and I’ve been put on birth control by a transphobic OB/GYN who thought he could “cure” me because of my orientation towards men, and had ended up in the psych ward because of it (almost slit my wrists), so I cannot handle the hormones associated with pregnancy AT ALL.

    Sorry for the rambling; this triggered a lot of stuff from my past. Anyway, this letter kicked ass and you should feel awesome.

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