Friends' Marta Kauffman says she regrets misgendering Chandler's transgender parent

The cast of Friends in publicity shot from the 1990s
The hit show - starring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer - ran for 10 years from 1994 to 2004. Photo credit: File / Warner Bros

The co-creator of the iconic television sitcom Friends has admitted she regrets misgendering the transgender parent of beloved character Chandler Bing. 

Fans of the hit show, which ran for 10 seasons between 1994 and 2004, might recall that Chandler, portrayed by Matthew Perry, had a trans parent who went by the stage name 'Helena Handbasket'. The character was eventually played by Kathleen Turner. 

When the topic of Chandler's family was raised on the show, the five other primary characters - Joey, Rachel, Ross, Monica and Phoebe - would frequently refer to Helena as his "father". In the seventh season, an episode was even titled 'The One With Chandler's Dad'. 

In a recent interview with the BBC set to be broadcast in the coming days, Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman admitted she still regrets how Helena was misgendered throughout the decade-long series. 

Speaking to BBC News, Kauffman acknowledged that the script "kept referring to [Helena] as 'Chandler's father', even though Chandler's father was trans."

"Pronouns were not yet something that I understood, so we didn't refer to that character as 'she'. That was a mistake," Kauffman told the outlet, as reported by E! News. 

Matthew Perry
Matthew Perry portrayed beloved 'funny guy' Chandler Bing on the show. Photo credit: File

It isn't the first time Kauffman, 65, had expressed regret regarding storylines in Friends and how the 1990s' sitcom handled certain topics. Last week, she told the Los Angeles Times about her plans to donate US$4 million to the African and African American Studies department of Brandeis University, her alma mater - a gesture she said is born out of her remorse for not creating more diverse characters, or casting diverse actors, during the show's 10-year reign. 

"I've learned a lot in the last 20 years," she told the Los Angeles Times. "Admitting and accepting guilt is not easy. It's painful looking at yourself in the mirror. I'm embarrassed that I didn't know better 25 years ago."

Kauffman's interview with BBC News is set to air on July 11.