“Law & Order: SVU” tackles trans issues with a familiar face


Last night’s Law & Order: SVU was originally supposed to feature the return of Stephanie March‘s ADA Alex Cabot for a six-episode stint. Let’s visualize that together for a minute. Actually, let’s visualize Alex and Olivia together for a minute.

Right, and we’re back.

But instead of seeing Stephanie, we were treated to a very special episode of Law & Order: SQU (Special Queer Unit). The story involved transgender issues and even featured a couple of real-life lesbians with cameos. Both Daniela Sea and Leah Delaria appeared in the episode. For a moment, it I thought Ilene Chaiken had taken over all of television. It was a scary moment.

Aside from Daniela’s seemingly permanent status as Max in the eyes of casting directors everywhere (though, thank heavens they decided to forgo the Gibb brother beard), I thought the episode handled trans issues rather sensitively. The plot involved a 13-year-old girl, Hailey, whose father couldn’t accept that she isn’t his son Henry anymore and is found beaten nearly to death.

Max, err, Daniela (see, even I’m slipping) plays a leader of a trans group that steals hormones from pharmaceutical companies and gives them to transitioning members of the community who could not ordinarily afford them. Det. Stabler called him a “Robin Hood and Maid Marian all wrapped up into one.” I could have done without that crack, because it’s an easy and unnecessary he-she joke.

I also wish the assailant of the girl’s father didn’t turn out to be the secretly transgender guidance counselor. Even though she came off entirely emphatically, it’s still another name to add to the seemingly never-ending master list of LGBT homicidal characters. But, overall the episode seemed to portray the issue with a great deal of tact and understanding.

So, how do you think SVU handled the issue? And, did you do a double-take, too, when Max strolled on screen?

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