Recent events got me thinking about this ground breaking episode...
...which I remember pretty vividly for something I haven't seen since its original air in 1975. There were two parts to this episode, but I'm pretty much reviewing both parts here. I was 17 at the time and had to go to a friend's house to see it. There was no way that my Baptist parents in 1975 Texas were going to let this on the TV screen in their house! I didn't even tell them why I was going to my friend's house or , even at 17, I would have been sent to my room! The whole thing was handled so sensitively. Robert Reed, who turned out to be a privately (at that time) gay man, plays a doctor at the Medical Center who identifies as a woman, and decides he wants sexual reassignment surgery so he can live out his life in the body of the sex with which he identifies. Unfortunately he has a wife of about 20 years and a teenage son. Both feel rejected as a result of his announcement. The wife feels like she must be a failure as a woman or this wouldn't be happening. The son feels like he is losing a dad.
Chad Everett, as Dr. Joe Gannon, is as sympathetic as he could be, and even winds up patching things up between Dr. Caddison and his wife after the surgery is done, right before Caddison leaves Medical Center as a woman. Robert Reed gave a great performance, and although being trans-gendered and being gay are two entirely different things, Reed probably used his experience of feeling like he had to live two lives to give such an authentic portrayal. Of course Medical Center leaves out the fact that this procedure is just not operative, but involves months of hormonal treatment prior to the operation, but I will cut them some slack on that for having the guts to tackle this subject on prime-time TV over forty years ago.
The oddest thing I remember about this episode? There was another, I think prior, episode of Medical Center- early 1970s - in which a childless married couple decided that they wanted permanent medical sterilization. There was more wringing of hands, multiple panels of doctors, and probing psychological evaluations involved in the decision of two adults of sound mind deciding that they wanted to be permanently child free than there was in the decision of a person in their 40s deciding to change genders! Just shows you how much times have changed even considering this is the swinging 70s we are talking about!
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