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Trans* Representation In Media Essay

2391 words - 10 pages

Today’s society is reliant upon modern or contemporary media for access to news, information, or visuals on the state of the world among many other things. Both visual and textual media have become platforms that we use to specifically and purposely pursue knowledge or that instills that information to us on a subconscious level that we do not even realize until it’s put to use at a later date (for better or for worse). Media, while very influential and increasingly progressive, still isn’t perfect and when it comes to ‘queer media’ or shows that feature or have an LGBTQ character, there are still certain qualities that those in the community find lacking, stereotypical, or downright humiliating. This is especially true for trans* individuals who for the most part are seen “as silly” or inconsequential objects of ridicule, and when showcased we are expected to “dismiss them as theater” instead of seeing them as complex human beings who are embracing their true identities (Siebler, 2010). Even when there are non-comical media portrayals of trans* people, we still often only see them being victimized or made out to be freaks because of their struggles with their gender identities. While it is true that there is more trans* representation in media than there has ever been before in history, it is still a topic that is usually either addressed poorly and distastefully or that doesn’t fully capture the experience of those people who feel like they don’t fall on either end of the gender binary spectrum.

Negative Representation
One of the worst problems with contemporary visual media when in regards to trans* representation is that unless one actively seeks out the knowledge about the complexities of their struggles, then most of the representation is fairly negative and makes their issues seem pathetic or ‘kink’ related. Modern shows, especially those that are animated like Family Guy or The Cleveland Show, will usually take a trans* character (more than likely a trans female) and put them in a relationship with a cisgender, heterosexual male and then make the big reveal that “she’s a he!”. This overused joke will get laughs from those who see the trans* character as a ‘joke’ because in media more often than not, we see trans* issues as such; how can someone not fit their sex? Whenever these characters, whether they be animated or real-life, are used as props in jokes or are there to make people feel awkward, it can affect everyone watching in different ways: “[T]hese representations of transqueers, in other words, create models for not only the nontrans people watching but of the trans* people who consume this media” as well (Siebler, 2010).
In our culture, and especially within our media, we see a very rigid, binary display of gender. There will always be the hyper-feminine female and the hyper-masculine male who give off the impression that their behavior is the only type of performance for each gender. These types of characters...

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