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Last Updated: Monday, 27 November 2006, 10:23 GMT
Transgender 'first' for US soap
Actor Jeffrey Carlson
Carlson says he hopes viewers will "go along" with his character
A transgender character who is making the transition from a man to a woman is to be seen on a US daytime soap opera, in what is believed to be a TV first.

Flamboyant rock star Zarf, played by Jeffrey Carlson, will appear on ABC's long-running series All My Children.

The story was "not for shock value", the actor told the Associated Press.

And it was a "ground-breaking" idea and a "breakthrough", the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), which was consulted by producers, said.

There have been some post-surgical transgender characters in television shows, including one in the CBS series The Education of Max Bickford, from 2001.

It's ground-breaking and breakthrough television for daytime to put a spotlight on transgender people and tell their story
Damon Romine, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

Drama The L-Word currently features a woman changing into a man, but the storyline on All My Children appears to be the first time it has happened the other way around.

"All My Children was looking for something new, and knows its audience is always interested in anything to do with sexuality," said executive producer Julie Hanan Carruthers.

'Desperate' attempt

Damon Romine, a spokesman for GLAAD, praised the producers for being genuinely interested in avoiding sensationalism.

They "put a spotlight on transgender people and tell their story" on daytime television, he added.

But one TV critic claimed it was part of a "desperate" attempt to gain viewers for a show which has fallen from an average audience of 8.2 million in 1991-2 to 3.1 million last year, according to Nielsen figures.

Several new characters had been introduced recently and "they're trying really hard", said Carolyn Hinsey, editor of Soap Opera Weekly.

"They're trying really hard and they're throwing a whole lot of desperate stuff against the wall to see what stick," she added.

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