Hello! Welcome to my blog.

First, I want to share a little bit about myself. I am a senior at Michigan State University studying Secondary English Education. This blog is part of a young adult literature class that I am taking, which addresses issues of power and privilege. I am a cisgender female, which means that I identify with the gender that I was assigned at birth. Because of this, I am by no means an expert on trans representation in media. I hope that I can do this topic justice, but I would appreciate any critiques or comments from here on out.

In this blog I will be compiling and reviewing different forms of print and visual media that depict transgender characters. Although positive representation for trans people is becoming more common in American media, it is far from perfect. I am going to try and explore different reactions to films and novels, while highlighting transgender voices and perspectives. I have always been drawn to the stories of real transgender people, because of the strength and bravery that they have navigating a culture that is far from accepting. Because of this, I will also include real stories in this blog. My aim is to share as many resources concerning trans representation as possible.

Here are some key terms that might be useful while navigating this blog:

Sex: the genetic (and sometimes scientific) determination of male and female. Refers to chromosomal patterns, anatomy esp. genitalia, hormones, secondary sex characteristics.

Gender: the socially defined roles expected of males and females.

Masculinity/Femininity: social construction of proper gendered behavior expected of males and females respectively.

Sexual Orientation: This term refers to the gender(s) that a person is emotionally, physically, romantically and erotically attracted to. Examples of sexual orientation include homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual and asexual.

Gender Identity: Gender identity refers an individual’s self-identification as a man, woman, transgender or other identity category.

Gender Expression: The communication of gender to other people in the social realm through the use of cultural cues such as clothing, hair style, cosmetic use, gait, movement, jewelry, etc.

Gender Role: The clothing, characteristics, traits and behaviors of an individual which are culturally associated with masculinity and/or femininity.

Gender Attribution: How a person is perceived according to their gender expression by other people in the social world.  One “attributes” a gender to other people based on their understandings of gender roles.

Cisgender: Refers to non-transgender people.

Gender Normative/Gender Normativity: People whose gender identity/expression accord to their sex, and whose versions of masculinity or femininity match hegemonic cultural imperatives.

Transgender: A range of behaviors, expressions and identifications which challenge traditional notions of sex, gender and sexuality in a given culture. Trans people dis-identify, in varying level of degree, with the sex/gender role assigned to them at birth.

Drag Queen/Drag King: refers to people who dress extravagantly and flamboyantly as members of the “opposite” sex usually for the stage or performance, may be part of the queer community.

Androgyny / Genderqueer:  Androgyny is an older term that refers to a combination of traits considered masculine with traits considered feminine.  Genderqueer is a newer term that refers to people with non-binary genders or people who purposefully mix and match masculine and feminine to create a non-traditional gender expression.

Heteronormativity:  the ways in which heterosexuality is installed as normative, natural and universal in a given culture.

Homophobia :  fear and hatred of gay and lesbian people.

Transphobia : The irrational fear and hatred of all those individuals who transgress, violate or blur the dominant gender categories in a given society.

Patriarchy: a form of social organization in which men dominate women.

Feminism: movement dedicated to promoting the social, economic and political equality of all people; movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression.

Privilege : A resource or state of being that is only readily available to some people because of their social group membership. Privilege, at its core, is the advantages that people benefit from based solely on their social status.  It is a status that is conferred by society to certain groups, not seized by individuals, which is why it can be difficult sometimes to see one’s own privilege.

Power: Access to resources that enhance one’s chances of getting what one needs in order to lead a comfortable, productive, and safe life. Power also refers to the ability of individuals or groups to induce or influence the beliefs or actions of other persons or groups.  One’s level of power or access to power is heavily dependent on one’s social status or social location, i.e. their membership in various social categorizations including race, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, nation, immigrant status, ability, weight etc.

The Binary Gender System: the construction of a societal system whereby the diversity of sex and gender is shoehorned into a dichotomous, bipolar model that allows only for masculine males and feminine females.

definitions from Gender, Power and Privilege Blog

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for my first post, which will be on the issue of cis actors playing trans characters.