Queer Eye’s first trans participant defends the Fab Five following criticism of episode
Skyler Jay, who appeared in the fifth episode of Queer Eye Season 2, has opened up about meeting the Fab Five and watching his episode.
The episode, titled “Sky’s the Limit,” premiered on Netflix in June and was both acclaimed and criticised for its treatment of the show’s first transgender participant’s makeover.
In the episode, the Fab Five mentor Skyler, who just underwent top surgery as part of his transition. The episode opened the conversation around issues experienced by trans people in their daily lives, like obtaining an ID that shows their true gender rather than the gender they were born with.
Some trans viewers felt the episode was reductive of the trans experience, focused too much on Skyler’s surgery and catered to cis people.
In an interview with Them, Skyler opened up about the episode and defended the Fab Five.
He said: “The questions I keep getting asked are, ‘Are these guys really that nice? Are they really that awesome?’ My response is always, ‘No. They’re even better than what you get to see on TV.’
“We spent a week and then some filming, they crush it into less than an hour, and there’s so much that’s left out.”
In the episode, style expert Tan France tells Skyler he’s the first transgender person he’s ever met. This comment drew criticism from viewers. Looking back on the episode, Skyler said he regretted that the edit of the episode cut out his answer.
“I always come back with, ‘That you know of.’ And then I always explain that I may be the first openly trans person they’ve met, but we’re everywhere,” he explained.
Skyler pointed out the full conversation with France lasted for more than two hours but was extremely edited. The pair touched on pronouns, differences faced by trans men and women, as well as non-binary people. Skyler also said that France had a very sheltered upbringing.
“I don’t blame him for his lack of knowledge. Instead, I very much thank him for his willingness to seek out that knowledge through me,” he said.
Some trans viewers complained it seemed like Skyler had to educate France and food and wine expert Antoni Porowski on trans issues. However, Skyler told Them he was the one pushing for that angle.
“I took full power knowing that the show was going to be targeted at middle-America housewives, because that’s what the first season was geared toward.”
“I was like — ‘Cool, I’m going to teach some middle-America housewife moms how to care for their transgender kids when they come out by being open and understanding their kids better,’” he said.
Skyler revealed he willingly educated the Fab Five in order to make them “megaphones” for the trans cause. “That’s what we need — not just trans folks standing up, we need other people to have some bit of knowledge on even a basic level of what kind of issues we face.”
He also shared that he had kept in touch with members of the Fab Five, especially design expert Bobby Berk.