Diary of a Time Girl: My Doctor Who Obsession Explained
I recently began working on a passion project, Possible Girls, a geek culture website about possibilities, dedicated to women and trans women, geeks and nerds and fangirls of all ages and all backgrounds. As I ponder, how I when to roll this site out, I figured I’d share some of the articles I’ve written for launch.
I am obsessed with Doctor Who.
There I said it.
To put it mildly, I’ve seen every single episode of Doctor Who in chronological order. For the initiated, that’s over 825 episodes, spanning more than 50 years, and includes 97 lost episodes, 97 lost episodes that have been faithfully recreated by fans using the original audio, tele-snaps, found footage and, if I’m not mistaken, a bit of string.
So when I say I’m obsessed with Doctor Who, that might be a bit of an understatement.
I was first introduced to the good Doctor back in 1973. I was fortunate enough to grow up in Philadelphia, meaning I was privy to one of the first airings of Doctor Who in the United States. So unlike most of my contemporaries who first encountered “that guy with a scarf”, my first Doctor was the sartorially resplendent Jon Pertwee (or Jan Pertwee as the Philadelphia Inquirer so joyously announced) But more than just the Doctor, I was introduced to the brilliant Roger Delgado as the Master, the delightful Katy Manning as Jo Grant, and the legendary Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier (“Five rounds rapid!”). But it was Jo Grant who struck me at a young age. At first a clumsy companion berated by the Doctor, she eventually blossomed into the hero of The Daemons, literally saving the Doctor’s life (spoilers!). A heroic woman in the ’70s. How cool was that?
The 10th anniversary special, The Three Doctors, however, was what turned my passing enjoyment into a lifelong obsession. It was in that serial where I learned that TWO other actors had played the eponymous role before my beloved Jan Pertwee, courtesy of something called regeneration. At that moment, a sacred quest was placed in front of me. A bucket list item for my future self. To watch every episode of Doctor Who in chronological order. A quixotic quest to be sure for I was oblivious that the BBC had lost, at that point, over 150 episodes of the series, wiped, erased and junked due to shortsighted bureaucratic policies.
Back in those halcyon days, I assumed Doctor Who was simply a rollicking good British adventure series. But looking back, I realize there were deeper currents at work.
While now I am openly transgender, back then I hid my inner desires, fueled by my shame over my inner self. I was supposed to be a boy, struggling with wanting to be a girl, even at the tender age of eight. But the Doctor, he reveled in his differentness. He was a hero. And better yet, as a Time Lord, he regenerated. New body, new personality, but still the same person. How I yearned to experience my own regeneration, hoping my new body would match the person I was inside.
And as the show has grown, so have I. Its message of inclusion inspires me, it’s embracing of possibilities clearly strikes a chord if you’ve perused the Possible Girls website. And for me, and I understand not everyone agrees, but for me, the Steven Moffat era has been one mind-blowing epiphany after another.
Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor was a revelation. Eleventh Hour, especially. The hyperactivity. The mind working faster than his mouth. The utter insanity. My kids stared at the television screen in astonishment. A madman with a box. That was me. Of course the intervening years make it more likely that I am a madwoman with a box, but that phrasing, I fear, be dragons.
And then there was Impossible Girl. Oswin Oswald in the far future, Clara Oswin Oswald in the Victorian past, and finally Clara Oswald in the present, someone who shouldn’t exist, but does. These episodes aired while I was accepting who I was, who I am, when my transition became inevitable. And a life I thought impossible since age eight, was now reality. I was Impossible Girl, a concept, I joyfully embraced, and frankly one that led to this site and its name.
Not only has the series featured a transgender actor, but it also proved that gender is not what defines us. Take the wonderful villain Missy who proved that Time Lords can regenerate into Time Ladies. Yup, my favorite villain from the 1970s has now become my favorite villain of the 21st century. The Master has become the Mistress, and I finally regenerated into the person I am today. Still me, but different. And to mix fandoms, 20% cooler.
Doctor Who is about possibilities, all possibilities. And that message is one I not only embrace, but embody in mind, body, and hopefully, possiblegirls.com.
Image via BroaDWcast/Gallifreybase.com