By Lydnsie Cox The entertainment industry has brought attention to many problems that the gay and lesbian community face, but now they are helping to bring awareness to the transgender community as well. You can now look up TV shows, movies, music, books and several other types of media that showcase the transgender community. Representation through actors and characters who are transgender really helps show the life of a transgender person, and having characters that are transgender helps viewers understand that these people are normal human beings just like cisgender* people are, and they do not deserve hateful or disrespectful treatment.
In the popular Netflix Original Series “Orange is the New Black,” we see a transgender woman, played by Laverne Cox, who is trying to interact and live with her other inmates. Her character is in prison because she was stealing credit cards to get money for her transition. Now, stealing credit cards is a crime, but it shows how oppressed transgender people are and how difficult transitioning can be. If one has to resort to theft in order to become comfortable in one's own body, then society has failed.
Sophia also experiences transphobic remarks and actions from her fellow inmates. If this show depicts transphobic remarks from people that are in prison, can you imagine what a transgender person must feel like roaming the world without constant supervision by guards? Her character proves that the entertainment industry is starting to care about the trans community. They portray the hardships that the trans community faces every day in all parts of society, and wants to promote change to the viewers. Television is starting to promote empathy for the characters.
Laverne Cox is iconic in the trans community because she is a trans woman of color. Trans women of color face violence and discrimination more than white trans gender women. According to Jorge Rivas for Fusion.com, 13 out of the 20 trans women murdered this year were people of color. This makes Laverne Cox's character particularly important because it not only highlights what the trans community as a whole face but especially what trans women of color go through.
Other TV shows, such as the Amazon Original Series "Transparent," give viewers a look into the lives of families with transgender members. In this particular series, the transgender character is the family's father. The series shows how a family learns to accept their father and his process into transitioning. This series shows that families are not always perfect and that's okay because love can drown out hate. Entertainment shows us in this series how strong a family can be when faced with change.
Caitlyn Jenner is also a hot topic in the trans community. She brought light to the transgender community because she is a highly public figure and part of an extremely affluent family. I am sure that someone on that platform found extreme difficulty in trying to live their daily life. Jenner's transition was a rare case; she had the money and resources to transition while most of the trans community does not.
In Jenner’s TV series “I Am Cait,” we see the life that she lives and we see trans people from all walks of life as well. Women who were unable to find jobs because of their gender identities share their stories, many of whom had to resort to sex work because that was the only way they were able to survive.
There is so much more to the trans community than people realize. It’s not easy to transition and find equality in that position. “I Am Cait” gives viewers a glimpse into how class can really affect the transgender community. While a cisgender person can never fully understand what it would feel like to be transgender, they can begin to understand how much these people go through every day just trying to live their lives.
Not only is the transgender community represented in the entertainment industry on television but on YouTube as well. The famous YouTuber, Gigi Gorgeous, is a transgender woman, who does not let the hate steer here away from her dreams. She is a positive influence and shows that it's okay to be yourself and love yourself no matter what. Gigi Gorgeous is an inspiration because she shows how successful you can become. She began as a small YouTuber and, through hard work and dedication, has become an internet sensation. She defies the odds every day and that's what makes her different. .
The transgender community experiences harassment, assault, homicides and suicides every year. As a society, we need to come together to help these people feel accepted and loved. You’ve seen the news articles and the TV shows. You’ve seen how the entertainment industry is now highlighting these humans and giving them a voice. We need to band together and stop the bullying. We are all human beings and every human being deserves to be treated with respect and acceptance.
If you or someone you know is a transgender person in crisis, call the Trans Lifeline at (877)-565-8860 or visit www.translifeline.org.
*Cisgender- someone whose self-identity conforms with the gender that corresponds to their biological sex