Tag Archives: transgender

LGBT in Television

One of the ways most people relax is sitting down to a good show after a long day. Now, with Hollywood becoming more involved in the fight for LGBT+ rights, there are more LGBT+ characters than ever before. However, according to a new GLAAD study, LGBT+ people are still misrepresented (1) in most shows.

In their annual report, they found that there are no transgender characters on primetime TV.  Also, the report said only 2% of shows on cable represent these people. There was also a finding that demonstrated the lack of racial diversity in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters in these shows (1).

It is a wonderful thing that shows are now including LGBT+ characters at rates we’ve never seen before, but these people need to be represented well. There are even cartoons, like Steven Universe, that show LGBT+ people in a great way. But yet, some shows seem to stick to the stereotypes of LGBT+ people.

gay tv characters
“Now, with Hollywood becoming more involved in the fight for LGBT+ rights, there are more LGBT+ characters than ever before.” Photo from: www.pride.com

While some shows do hold on to wildly negative views of LGBT+ people, there are shows like Orange is the New Black and Transparent that bring great representation to this community. Transparent is on its fourth season of production, and with the way Jill Soloway is presenting her characters, it’s bound to have more. It is said that Soloway has an authentic way of representing her character’s relationships with sexuality, spirituality, gender identity and mental health, making the show “one of the best television shows ever written” (2).

Not all shows that have a gay or lesbian character approach it the wrong way. Glee came out as one of the first shows that openly dealt with LGBT+ people being bullied, self-doubt, and families that did not approve of the character’s sexuality. So, using Glee as an example, I think that while yes, some shows don’t know how to represent the LGBT+ community, there are a majority of shows trying to improve the way the community is represented.

1 – http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv/representation-lgbt-characters-tv-needed-study-article-1.2413435

2 – http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2016/11/02/8-of-the-best-lgbt-shows-on-television-today/

Translocal

Translocal is a documentary that I’m creating about transgender individuals around and in the area of Montgomery county, areas such as Blacksburg, Radford, and Christiansburg. It contains a variety of different people, from trans youth, ages of 16 to 20, and older trans people, ages 21 to 30. The people I’ve interviewed and plan to interview have, or intend to, transition from male to female or female to male. This experience, so far, as truly opened my eyes to trans culture, what it means to be trans, and how gender is fluid, and sometimes can’t be separated into strictly male and female.

The transgender flag with the title of my documentary over top of it. Graphic designed by Molly Mattox

 

As of now, I have interviewed one trans individual, Anat. I knew Ana in high school. I wouldn’t say we were close, but we were friends during sophomore year. She was kind of a loner, didn’t have many friends, and from what I saw, people weren’t very nice to her. I was basically her only friend, but at that time I didn’t know she was transgender. I wasn’t able to help her through that struggle because she never told me. I understand, now, why she didn’t. She grew up in a very religious household, a house where she was told that any changes to her body, no matter how necessary or small, were against what God had intended for her. Growing up, Ana had an overbite, one that was very extreme and she needed surgery for it. Her parents allowed her to have the surgery, but told her that God made her the way she was and that her surgery was against his plan. Hearing words like that over and over again makes it understandable that she couldn’t accept herself, let alone tell other people about her struggle.

While interviewing her, she told me that her parents don’t accept her, in fact, they think that she has a mental illness, that she’s going through a phase, and she needs help. She said that her father went as far as calling the board of medicine, filing a complaint about her physician because they support her and her transition. He attempted to ruin a doctor’s career as well as his daughter’s life because he can’t find it within himself to accept her unconditionally. These are the kinds of issues that need to brought to attention. The safety of transgender individuals is not a joke, and some people wish to harm them simply because of who they are. Transgender people are being beaten and murdered everyday because other people don’t understand people who are different from what society deems “normal.” This documentary will teach people that all trans individuals want is respect and to be treated just like everyone else, because they are.

 

 

Prove yourself

When it comes to transgender issues, the number one “problem” a transgender person shouldn’t have to deal with is proving themselves to other people. My little brother is going through these experiences right now, having to prove and explain himself to every other person and their brother because in order to get what you want as a transgender person, you have to prove that the transition is really what you want.

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“What person would lie about being transgender? What benefits does that type of person receive? “

A couple weeks ago, my family and I went to an endocrinologist, a doctor who deals with hormones, and is the doctor that approves or denies the distribution of HRT, or hormone replacement therapy. It’s a drug that, depending on one’s situation, will lower the rate at which testosterone or estrogen is expelled throughout the body. In order to begin this processes, my little brother has to prove himself to the doctor, has to explain and make her believe that he is truly transgender, that he isn’t mentally unstable or lying about what he wants. What person would lie about being transgender? What benefits does that type of person receive? Obviously, it’s a serious worry that doctors have but I find it hard to believe that it occurs regularly.

I understand that doctors and specialists want to be cautious about moving forward with a treatment that is potentially irreversible; however, at some point, it gets condescending and inappropriate when continuously questioning someone’s authentic self.

I’m sure it makes it harder to come out because you’re immediately hit with questions implying that you don’t know what you want, that “you have to be extremely sure about this” before moving forward. Don’t you think that a transgender person would be sure about themselves before even telling anyone in the first place?

Having to prove yourself to random strangers is unfair and condescending, but necessary to get what a transgender person wants, which is to be able to be their authentic self, to be who they’ve always known they’ve been inside. In the end, all of the formalities are irrelevant as long as their happiness is retrieved after all of the struggling and heartache. Let people be who they want to be without the hassle.

Rates of depression and anxiety normal in supported transgender children

According to a new study published on February 26 in Pediatrics, transgender children who are given the opportunity to socially transition, to change their hair, clothing, and use their preferred pronouns as well as preferred names, had the same rate of depression and anxiety as two control groups of cisgender children.

Image from healthywomen.org
A mother who fully supports her transgender child. Image from healthywomen.org

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These discoveries question the “long-held assumptions” that mental health issues in transgender youth are unavoidable, and some go as far as considering being transgender as a type of mental disorder.

The researcher, UW assistant professor of psychology and lead author Kristina Olson, noticed that in her experiment, 73 children, ages 3 to 12, had levels of depression and anxiety no higher than two control groups, which consisted of the transgender children’s siblings and other cisgender children of the same age. “Their rates of depression and anxiety were significantly lower than those of gender-nonconforming children in previous studies,” says Olson.

The research not only involved the children, but also the parents, having them fill out two short surveys asking the frequency of their children experiencing depression or anxiety in the last week.

The research said that the levels of depression regarding transgender children was an average of 50.1, essentially the same as the national norm, while their anxiety rates were 54.2, only a bit higher than the national average.

Researchers understand that “positive mental health among study participants might be explained by factors other than parental support.”

They know that the possibility of a parent making their child seem happier than they are is great, but they plan on creating future studies to investigate those possibilities.

This study was a part of the TransYouth project that Olsen founded. It’s the first large study of transgender youth in the U.S. It contains more than 150 transgender children and families from about 25 states, and Olson is still recruiting more participants.

Transgender issues hit home

Transgender people are simply that: people. They are the same as me and you, just with unique circumstances. Don’t you think that all people should be treated equally? That all people deserve the same rights and privileges as others? Isn’t America the land of the free and the home of the brave? What kind of world do we live in where people are being murdered every other day for being different, for being transgender?

That is not a world I want to live in, and not a country I want to be associated with  the way things are right now. I never understood the importance of transgender issues and transgender abuse until recently, when these issues began to impact me personally.

Transgender people are just people. Photo from Caitlyn Jenner.
Transgender people are just people. Photo from Caitlyn Jenner.

You can never really understand what it’s like to be affected by transgender issues until it relates to you personally. You could go on all day about how you’d vote over and over again for equal rights for all, but you never understand the true impact and importance of it all unless you are affected directly.

On Friday, October 30th, my little brother came out to me as transgender. I was shocked, to say the least; however, I had some idea that something was bothering him for sometime and somehow, I just knew. From my dance costumes he loved to wear when we was three to him growing out his hair since last

year, there have been subtle signs for as long as I can remember.

My first thought when he told me was “What if he gets murdered for being his true self?” “What if he gets hurt or bullied or something awful because he can’t hide his true self anymore?”

I was scared for him. He’s my baby brother and I need to protect him, but in this situation, I can’t control the actions of the world around me and it’s one of the most frustrating and scary feelings I have ever experienced.

I shouldn’t have to have these thoughts. I shouldn’t have to be scared for my brother’s life because of what the world and society has done to transgender people. He needs to become the person he is meant to be and I nor my family are going to let the world stop him from being happy.

Being transgender in America is dangerous, but it shouldn’t be. We, as the people of the United States, should stand up against the crimes being committed against transgender people and bring the country together as one.

We should all be equal under the constitution and no person should walk the streets of America afraid for being who they are.