The past few years have seen an exponential rise in the visibility of transgender people, particularly in popular media. Many such representations have done the work of showing transgender people in a positive (or at least neutral) light, taking down some of the stereotypes about us that have prevailed for decades.
When I heard the rumor that the new Secret ad featured a trans woman, I thought perhaps Secret will be crafting a full campaign, hire a bunch of trans women at a wage where they can thrive in this (violent) economy and donate to trans-led organizations. I thought perhaps Secret would have a commercial that featured the music of transgender non-conforming people of color, as well as feature multiple trans actors.
On Monday, October 24, 2016, an 18-year-old transgender girl said she experienced a feeling of "nothing but love and support" when her North Carolina high school announced that she was homecoming queen. Selena Milian had recently won the popular vote for the school award at Overhills High School in Spring Lake, NC the previous week—on Friday, October 21st.
It’s believed that Selena, who is also Native American, is the first transgender homecoming queen to be crowned in the state of North Carolina.
Within mainstream media, childhood and adolescence are typically depicted as “magical.” As a kid, I was probably my most anxious, self-doubting and socially-neurotic self. I felt estranged from my body, and mistrusting of my friendships. And all of this was as a cisgender, white, pretty privileged kid. What I mean to say is this: growing up is—or can be—hard.
Last week, The New Yorker ran a cover portraying Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as a beauty pageant queen walking the runway, wearing a tight leotard and heels, mascara streaming down his flushed cheeks, a hand raised to the tiara perched on his exaggeratedly long hair.
In today’s society, the norm is not that we commonly talk about the distinction between individual gender expression and gender stereotypes. If a woman presents in a stereotypically “masculine” way (whether affect or clothing choices), others may say she “seems like a lesbian.”
Twenty-four years ago, in 1992, my son, Harry, told me, “Inside my head I’m a girl.” He was two years old. I had no idea what that meant. I felt disoriented even trying to process it. The internet was no help, because there was no internet. Books didn’t exist on how to raise children who didn’t fit neatly inside a box that was either pink or blue. And terms like transgender, gender nonconforming, and gender fluid were rare or nonexistent.