by Anthony J. Williams
Transgender Pride Flag
Masculinity is killing trans women, and more specifically, trans women of color. The concepts of masculinities and femininities are not themselves killing trans women or gender nonconforming people. It is instead the reproduction of toxic masculinities by folks who feel “threatened” by transgender women. This is not just an observation, but a statement that is proving more and more true with each murder of trans women. However, reported statistics do not accurately reflect the actual number of trans women killed each year.
What does it mean to be a man? Is masculinity purely biological or is it shaped by social and relational factors? Can a man’s relationship with a romantic partner have the power to legitimize or conceivably challenge his gender identity?
Menstruation is one of the biggest taboos of our time. As a cis-gender woman, periods are still an awkward conversation. To even ask someone for a tampon or pad in public is more like an illegal drug deal than a basic human necessity. Everyone hides the fact that they experience this basic human function. For me, it’s something that I have to deal with once a month. But for some people it is a way of reinforcing dysphoria, and even a way of putting an individual in harms way. Women aren’t the only ones who get periods.
The internet has been abuzz with discussions of John Jolie-Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s eight-year-old child who hit the red carpet in a sharp suit at the premier of Unbroken on December 16. In the weeks since the premier multiple sources have reported that the child, who was designated female at birth and named Shiloh, now wishes to be called John and may identify as a boy. However, information on John is limited and no official statement has been released about his gender identity.
Whether you love it or loathe it, social media is omnipresent and every day millions of people upload millions of photographs to their social media pages for the visual consumption of friends, family and complete strangers. John Berger (1972: 2) states that ‘every image embodies a way of seeing’. Images posted on social media reveal much about those who made them, particularly how they view the world around them. Unfortunately social media, through the types of images displayed there, can be used to reinforce dysmorphic ideas about our bodies and problematic views on gender and gender “normativity”. Recently, I have been thinking about the types of visual representations of men and women that communicate dysmorphic or problematic messages, and specifically how others see [interpret] these representations. What does a self-made image of a man or woman posted on a social media site mean to others who view them? And to what degree can they impact on the spectator? Do such images hold meaning for the spectator, are they more than a fleeting visual curiosity or distraction? If such images do hold meaning; what meaning exactly? I know of course the simple answer to these questions is – it depends! Depends on the image and depends on who the spectator is. None-the-less, I find this an interesting line of inquiry.
As we reach the beginning of July, summer is in full swing. Adults are taking vacations to escape the heat while many children are looking forward to another kind of getaway: summer camp. For children who attend camp, this parent-free space is a place for making new friends and developing new skills. For children who are transgender or gender nonconforming (TGNC), however, camp can be an alienating or even impossible experience.* Although the American Camp Association has urged camps to be prepared to enroll and support transgender and gender nonconforming campers, summer camps continue to engage in gender segregation and stereotyping that can alienate TGNC children. Camp also often creates a situation of anxiety where TGNC kids and their parents worry about disclosing or hiding the child’s gender identity to staff, roommates, and peers.
Photo by Lindsay Morris
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