For the first time ever, transgender women are regularly depicted in entertainment media. Laverne Cox, a transgender woman, plays an imprisoned transgender woman on Orange Is the New Black. Transparent, the Amazon.com web series, follows the transition of a Jewish father to a woman. But the transgender man—a person assigned female sex status at birth who identifies and lives as man—is often missing from the media. Seven King is set out to change that.
This summer, the producer will release a web series about Black transgender men: Eden’s Garden. King tells EBONY.com Eden’s Garden is a dramedy that will depict many the issues that Black transgender men face, like homophobia, promiscuity and HIV/AIDS. The Bronx native relied heavily on his own personal experiences as a transgender man.
EBONY: What prompted you to develop a web series about Black trans men?
Seven King: The content in the writing for Eden’s Garden is like a diary for me, but also a representation of numerous guys’ experience that may be trans. The life of a trans-male is a different experience from a cis male in certain ways. I wanted to create a series that will not only educate and advocate, but give suspenseful entertainment in scripted form. The media also has a bigger platform for the trans-woman experience than the trans-male, which has left audiences unversed in some of the daily realities trans men may face. I also produce my art out of my own experience or what inspires me.
EBONY: What is your background in film?
SK: Before Eden’s Garden, I produced and directed a documentary called The Rebirth of Paris, a documentary told from the perspective of ballroom’s new generation. This documentary exposes the beautiful and the ugly of ballroom culture within in the LGBTQ community. I also have written numerous screenplays. But this is my first Internet series. I taught myself a lot of what I know in production. I am also a real detailed-orientated and structured individual. Before I attack a goal, I look into everything that needs to be done before initiating the plan.
I also have scenes where I’m living discreet, where people at work or at school don’t know that I am a trans man. We call it living “stealth.” I might live out with my friends, but when it comes to work and going to school, I’m not. Sometimes with employment, that’s the best way to go. You have to do what you want to do for your opportunity. But whether one lives stealth is based on the individual person.
EBONY: What kind of storylines can we expect to see with the series? How long will it be? How many episodes?
SK: Eden’s Garden is a web series dramedy. This series is starring an all trangender male cast, featuring other Black and Latino characters. Eden’s Garden is focused on many social relevant issues, such as trans-reality issues and struggles, trans-dating, same sex dating, HIV and AIDS awareness, infidelity, promiscuity, homophobia, gay bashing, trans-bashing, friendships and betrayals. This will be a suspenseful journey in each of the lives of the starring trans-male friends in the series.
EBONY: How does the film relate to your own personal experiences?
SK: There is scene in the series that goes back to when I went through a dilemma with my family. My father was a member of Grandmaster Flash’s Furious Five, and my mother stayed at home. The relationship between the two was rocky. On top of that, I had my own gender identity issues. I have identified as trans man since I was 4. When I was 13, I had a big argument with my entire family, so I left my house at the age of 13. I felt like the black sheep in my family. So I said I’m going to go ahead and be on my own and be in my own skin.
EBONY: Why did you name the show Eden’s Garden?
SK: I decided to name the show Eden’s Garden because the Garden of Eden is a universal story told to numerous of people. Whether people believe in the story or not, I like the beginning origin of that story concept. Gender identity has a beginning starting point for every person who may trans. For me it was at age 4, when I identified my gender to be male.
“Garden of Eden” has a mystery that carries on to this present time. In that garden, there could have been anything, then I think to myself. The story of trans men or transgender people could have been a story in that tale that’s never been told. Eden is one of the main characters name within this series. Eden’s Garden is how I connected the two for the title name of the series.
EBONY: Recently there has been a lot of news about transgender people, but most of this news has been centered on transgender women. Why do you think that is?
SK: Transgender women have a totally different experience from trans men, even transitioning wise. Transgender women in most cases had to be on the frontline to activism, and also had the highest rate in murders. Their voice also carried over in the media for having the foundation voice from the beginning sometimes. Trans men have been almost invisible in my eyes, to me, media wise. It takes risking your own story sometimes to change that, and that’s what Eden Garden brings.
EBONY: Can you tell me what are the existing depictions of transgender men in media?
SK: There are hardly any consistent depictions of trans men in the media. You may have some pop-up interviews with men who happened to be trans, but there is no consistent face of a transmale that I know of in the media, besides children of celebrities that happen to be trans.
EBONY: How are you funding the series?
SK: I just want people to understand how everyone is connected in this society. I financed the show mostly out of pocket. I am also currently still fundraising as the series is in production. One of the links to my fundraiser sites is Gofundme.com/edensgarden.
EBONY: What do you want people to learn from the series?
SK: Even though it’s a transgender man story, everyone can find themselves in this story. The only thing difference is the body we were born into. Some of us have to fight for our manhood.