Media and Transgendered People
by ProvocativeTrash on February 6, 2015 - 1:37pm
Glossary of Terms
1.Transitioning: The process of socially and physically transitioning into one’s desired gender.
2.Passing: Successfully being perceived as one’s gender identity.
3.Gender Dysphoria: A condition where an individual does not identify with their sex at birth.
4.Gender Identity: The gender that one emotionally feels like.
5.Sexuality: Attraction to one’s sex.
6.Sex: Female/Intersex/Male. Physically determined.
7.Gender: Female/Male/Agender/etc. Emotionally/Psychologically determined.
Hollywood has always been a place where the paparazzi will analyze everything in a popular person’s life. Their decisions will be scrutinized, their outfits judged and their person will be harassed for a mere magazine picture. This was especially applicable during the 90s (and even now) when people of stardom who were rumored to gay and lesbians got unusual amounts of attention. While this may sound negative, this also somewhat normalized gay culture, because as more and more people in the public scene came out as LGB, it became more and more acceptable. What has failed to happen is the normalization of transgendered people, mostly because our society’s gender structure is so deep set.
The Daily Mail wrote an article on Bruce Jenner, a former olympian who also previously played basketball. Jenner also attracts much attention for being the stepfather of Kourtney, Kim and Khloe on “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, a popular reality show. Now 65, Jenner is undergoing a male to female transition.
Back before it was confirmed that Jenner was undergoing transition in the midst of the divorce case between Bruce’s and his* wife Kris, his* mom said in an interview to MailOnline “I want to tell you one thing Bruce, I don't care if what they're putting out is true or false, it's not going to change my love for you, and it's true that's exactly how I feel, but I don't like it [Bruce’s appearance].” Now that Jenner has confirmed she is undergoing transition, Jenner is ”being supported by his mum, [and] it appears that he actually has the full support of his entire family over the big change.”
While I am glad that Jenner has a support group, I do feel a sense of anger towards the media in the whole case. While Bruce Jenner still has not confirmed a new name, their gender identity is misrepresented across the media. While it even felt redundant and difficult to not use male pronouns such as “him” while writing this very piece, I feel that reporting across all boards could be more gender neutral. To the majority of people living outside the trans community, this sounds like an incredibly minute detail, but the misuse of gender pronouns can be interpreted as an “insult” for transgendered people. Bruce Jenner, while having lived as a man throughout her life, identifies as female, thus she should be considered as such. She might not categorically fit into the definition of a “biological (XX) female”, both in shape and in function, but her identity is as such. The issue of pronouns is a very confusing one for friends and loved ones but the general rule for pronoun usage is to [implictly] reach a conclusion about the preferred pronouns (in Jenner’s ase, these are female pronouns) or to ask what pronouns to use if confusion persists.
To give you personal insight, I’ll just explain what this all is as a now transitioned trans person. I live in the 21st century, where the gay movement has somewhat aided the acceptance of trans people. Nowadays, standards of appropriate treatment of transgendered people are being applied to an increasing degree. For example, a doctor (who will remain unnamed) established in the Children’s Hospital of Montreal treats gender nonconforming children and aids them with both physical and psychological aspects of the transition. Bruce Jenner did NOT have access such treatments when she was growing up. This, combined with the fear of social backlash, prevented an optimal transition, because of the irreversibility of male puberty. I can honestly state that I am surprised Jenner did not commit suicide because almost 41% of trans people in the United States have attempted suicide [Tanis, Justin et al.]. When it comes to gender dysphoria, great amounts of psychological trauma often leaves the affected person in depression for the majority of their pre-transition (and sometimes even post-transition) life. Taking my experience as an example, I remained depressed for ~65% of the time when I was pre-transition and in the process of transitioning. It’s a very taxing process, even more so when your birth sex puberty has completed. The problem is that attracting so much [implied] negative attention to trans issues in the media is what causes many trans people to either wait until their puberty is irreversible, not transition at all, or to commit suicide as the most dire option.
If trans acceptance became mainstream overnight, I could guarantee to you that from that point onwards, the suicide attempt figure of 41% would dramatically drop, as trans people will be able to gain easier access to treatment. This would allow the majority of transgendered people to, aesthetically, fit into the definition of their desired gender and live a life free from the shackles of gender dysphoria. A drop in the median age of transition would result in better results from Hormone Replacement Therapy and a higher chance of passing.
Passing is something to be very much stressed, because for the majority of trans people, not passing means discrimination until the end of one’s life. That is why, for many people, it’s passing or suicide.
Mapstone, Lucy, Enriquez, Justin. “Bruce Jenner's mother confirms that the reality TV star IS transitioning into a woman”. The Daily Mail. February 3, 2015. February 4, 2015. Web.
Tanis, Justin, Motett Lisa, et al. “National Transgender Discrimination Survey Report on health and health care”. National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. October 2010. February 6, 2015. Web.