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‘Friends’ Cocreator Marta Kauffman Says It Was a ‘Mistake’ to Misgender Chandler’s Trans Parent

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More regrets. Friends cocreator Marta Kauffman expressed remorse over the way the show depicted a trans character days after she said she was embarrassed by the show’s lack of diversity.“We kept referring to [Helena] as ‘Chandler’s father,’ even though Chandler’s father was trans,” the producer, 65, said during an interview with BBC World Service’s The Conversation set to air on Monday, July 11. “Pronouns were not yet something that I understood, so we didn’t refer to that character as ‘she.’ That was a mistake.”Kauffman was referring to the character Charles Bing, who used the stage name Helena Handbasket and was played by Kathleen Turner.

Helena and Chandler (Matthew Perry) had an awkward relationship in the show after she split from Chandler’s mom, Nora (Morgan Fairchild).Since Friends — which also starred Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc — ended in May 2004, public sentiment about the show’s depiction of Helena has vastly changed, with some critics calling the character transphobic.

Kauffman, for her part, noted that her own approach to trans issues has changed a lot over the past decade and a half.“I like very much to create an environment where we have a happy set and a happy crew,” she told the BBC. “It’s very important to me that where we are is a safe place, a tolerant place, where there’s no yelling.

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