The media is becoming more at ease with transgender people and how they choose to represent them. However, there is still a long way to go. The media doesn’t always portray transgender people in the right light which leads to false perceptions and stereotypes. When it comes to the media, transgender people are portrayed in three ways: Bad, so-so and good.
Here’s the breakdown:
The violent man in the dress: More often than not, transgender people are portrayed as nothing more than a man in a dress who wants to cause harm. In movies and TV, transgender characters are often the villains.
The bathroom conundrum: The media (not all outlets but the more conservative ones) paint a very negative picture of transgender people making them appear as if they want to maliciously invade our public washrooms. This is, of course, far from the truth but as long as the media allows right-leaning talking heads to spout lies about the transgender community, this is going to be a very big problem.
Caitlyn Jenner: Although Jenner represents a transgender person of privilege (meaning she did not suffer the same obstacles as most transgender youth who were bullied etc.), the media seems to embrace her. This affects the perceptions of transgender people in a positive and negative light.
For one, it shows that transgender people are just like everyone else. They are upstanding members of society, they’re not trying to invade our bathrooms and they’re not violent men in dresses. The problem with the media putting Jenner on a pedestal over others in the trans community is that they’re basically saying, “We’re okay with a white, former olympic athlete but it’ll take a while for us to get on board with the rest of you.”
Laverne Cox and Orange is the New Black: Cox is not only a trans woman, but both she and the TV show she appears on, Orange is the New Black, showcase transgender people in a positive light. Cox herself is also the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy award.
The BBC: The UK chanel announced that they would be airing the first ever sitcom about a trans character played by transgender actress, Rebecca Root. The show will feature a trans protagonist who is a fully formed character and not a mere stereotype.