For this portion of research I used a specific scholarly article regarding the relationship between trans people and YouTube as a media platform for them to document their experiences. The article “Trans On YouTube: Intimacy, Visibility, Temporality” by Linda Horvak takes a deeper look at the ways in which YouTube has been utilized by member’s of the trans community.
Whether it’s a video journal documenting an individual’s transition or a trans personality, beauty and fashion vlogger like Gigi Gorgeous, who has nearly 2,500,000 subscribers on the video sharing platform, YouTube has provided a conduit for trans people to open up and share their experiences to trans- and cis-viewers alike.
Documentaries and news segments will bring on “experts” who are not trans and have no real first-hand experience with the transgender people to frame the community. More often than not these stories are blatantly one-dimensional – or worse – they work to perpetuate stereotypes like that most trans women are sex workers or that trans women of color are violent or that they are simply freaks. In constrast, YouTube has empowered this consistently marginalized group by giving them the ability to shape their own narratives. YouTube has also played a significant role in showing via the abundance of videos about transition, that not all trans people are like – a fallacy that leads to misinformation with respect to the trans community.
“YouTube’s predilection for personal and the spectacular have made it a powerful tool for some trans people to construct the ways that their bodies are looked at and heard – and to connect geographically disparate people in intimate ways. To put it bluntly, these videos save trans lives,” (Horvak 581).
In addition to providing a support system and inclusive forum for trans individuals on the Internet these vloggers and their videos tackle the “social othering” that the trans community is constantly plagued with. Rather than an us against them mentality of cis v. trans: “the YouTube talking head brings trans individuals close to the viewer [regardless of cis/trans], both in seeming physical proximity and feelings of intimacy,” (Horvak 576). In doing so, trans vloggers are breaking down their own otherness. Perhaps a cis viewer has never met a trans person, or spoken to a trans person and likewise perhaps a trans viewer has never met or heard about another trans person’s experience. These videos, though mediated are a sort of conversation between trans vloggers and their viewers. Their channels are a way to provide and gain understanding.
Linda Horvak – Trans On YouTube: Intimacy, Visibility, Temporality
In 2016, 27 transgender individuals were murdered in the United States and nearly all were transgender women of color, making it the deadliest year [on record] for transgender people in the United States of America. These numbers do not reflect transgender people whose deaths are not reported due to misgendering in police reports, news stories, and in some cases even the victim’s family. Victims of violence are overwhelming transgender women of color. Due to lack of information about the perpetrators motives, not all of these homicides have been identified as hate crimes.
I decided to focus in on governmental data and reports from the ACLU, Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD and various other organizations to help guide my preliminary research for the topic of improving transgender rights and increasing transgender visibility and integration within the US. Though disheartened I was not surprised by the bleak findings from the various reports and surveys collected on transgender identifying individuals here in the US.
Unfortunately, as a country, the US is far from where it needs to be with respect to protecting the rights and liberties of transgender Americans. The fact that only 18 states and the District of Columbia even provide laws that protect people from discrimination and discrimination from employment on the basis of gender identity is demonstrative evidence of where the nation has systematically failed to safeguard these people’s basic human rights.
Other stats I found not included in the info graphics [above] include:
- 46% of all transgender and gender non-conforming individuals reported feeling “uncomfortable” seeking police help.
- 22% of transgender people have reported being harassed by police officers due to bias.
- 29-38% of transgender people of color reported being harassed by police officers due to bias.
- Transgenderism was classified in the DSM as a mental illness labeled GID (or Gender Identity Disorder) – until 2013. [“Gender Dysphoria,” 2013].
The sources I use are credible and verifiable. I made sure to only use professional reports from institutions like The National Center for Transgender Equality, Center for Disease Control, ACLU etc. for the numbers I have presented in my research. Furthermore, any numbers, statistics, facts that I have included in my research that were not from government/public/national institutions came from reputable news sources. For example, the stats that stated:
the transgender community makes up approximately 0.3 percent of U.S. adults – roughly 700,000 people. [“Born in the Wrong Body: The Transgender Struggle”, 2013],
was pulled from an article written in The Week and The Week’s source for that information was UCLA’s Williams Institute, which focuses on legal issues that affect transgender people.
A Blueprint for Equality: Prison and Detention Reform. Rep. National Center for
Transgender Equality, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2015. <http://transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/resources/NCTE_Blueprint_for_Equality2012_Prison_Reform.pdf>.
“Born in the Wrong Body: The Transgender Struggle.” The Week. The Week Magazine, 23 Sept. 2013. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. <http://theweek.com/articles/459647/born-wrong-body-transgender-struggle>.
“Gender Dysphoria.” APA DSM-5 Development. America Psychiatric Association, 2013. Web. 16 Apr. 2015. <http://www.dsm5.org/documents/gender%20dysphoria%20fact%20sheet.pdf>.
“HIV Infection among Transgender People.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC, 14 Apr. 2015. Web. 18 Apr. 2015. <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/transgender/pdf/transgender.pdf>.
Trans Moon Landing
I was inspired by popular culture – the MTV moon man with the MTV flag — and the idea of using an iconic image from the moon landing when first starting my design.
For the Trans Moon landing, I used the patch tool to cut out the original American Flag pictured in the iconic moon landing photographic and the healing tool to make sure that the empty space from the deleted American flag blended in naturally to the grey hill in the background.
I then used the quick selection tool to cut out the sky/background in the photograph featuring the transgender community’s flag. After that I used the shift key + selection tool to proportionally resize the flag to fit on the pole in the original moon landing photo.
I believe this DIY manipulation adequately completes the task of the prompt because it is able to incorporate an iconic image and the topic of my project – Transgender rights/visibility in the United States. By utilizing the transgender flag and re-contextualizing the original moon landing image my photo manipulation makes the argument that is time to establish more awareness of and respect for transgender Americans.
(Just to cover my bases, also just for fun, I did a second photo manipulation as well)
YOUR BODY IS A BATTLEGROUND
I wanted to incorporate my love of art into the assignment as well as my project’s theme. I instantly thought of Barbara Kruger and her iconic: (Untitled) work 1989. The original piece of art, on view at the Broad, was inspired by the Women’s March on Washington and the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Given the current political climate, as well as the fact that across the world men/women/ and gender non-conforming individuals marched just weeks ago, I felt that this was timely and appropriate for the assignment. Often, transgender individuals in the US are victims
Often, transgender individuals in the US are victims to gender policing and policies that deter or plainly stop them from presenting their true gender i.e. not being able to take hormone treatments, gender reassignment surgery, etc. With that in mind, I felt that merging a trans icon with Kruger’s piece makes a visual argument regarding transgender rights and the body politics that are at play on an individual/institutional level.
I pulled an image from the Internet of prominent transgender American, activist and actress Laverne Cox from the Internet – making sure to find one that matched a similar portrait to the women that Kruger uses in her photographic silkscreen. I also pulled the Kruger piece from the Broad’s website.
- I cropped “Your body,” “is, a,” “battleground” – from Kruger’s silkscreen
- I made the Laverne photo black & white with the filter tool
- I then sliced the photo to divide her face down the middle and inverted the colors on the right side of her face using the adjustments>invert tool.
- I then took the cropped out text from the Kruger silkscreen and placed them in the same general locations as the original work of art.
- Finally, I used the rectangle tool to create the sided read border on the image.