All My Children tackles transgender issues – By Matea Gold, Times Staff Writer

New York ? IT was late afternoon on the set of “All My Children,” a sprawling soundstage that occupies the third floor of an ABC compound on Manhattan’s West Side, and Eden Riegel ? better known to daytime television fans as Bianca Montgomery ? was pacing nervously.

In a few minutes, she would tape the first scene in which Zarf, a flamboyant rock star played by Jeffrey Carlson, was going to reveal his secret to her: He was a she.

This was not your usual credulity-challenging, hidden-identity soap opera plot device. Zarf was coming to terms with the fact that although biologically male, he had long felt he was really a woman.

It’s the first time a daytime drama has tackled a transgender coming-out story line, and producers of the 36-year-old soap said they are determined to make it a nuanced, realistic portrayal. Months of research had gone into the development of the character, including meetings with transgender staff from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.