So I brainstormed with my group today. Lovely people, they are. I mean, I just met them and I’m still learning their names, but all the same I can tell they’re pretty great. So we have a social justice beat for our class, and our issue is “Gender.” Now, this one’s been quite the hotbed of internet activity lately and there are a lot of things it encompasses under its wide umbrella. One of the first things we decided, however, was that there was a lot of spotlight on the trans community lately, and that in itself is worth covering.
The idea is simple: highlight the prominence of transgendered and transsexual individuals in the media, and the public’s reaction.
“But John,” I hear you hypothetically asking. “Hasn’t literally everybody with a keyboard and internet browser done that already?”
That’s a great question you might have potentially asked, my friend, and this is why me (and those in my work group on their respective blogs) are tackling this anyways. The fact is, now more than ever the trans community is being closely examined and scrutinized by all sorts of people. Those who support them and watch with bright eyes in hopes that they will be embraced and accepted by the global community. Those who for whatever reason do the exact opposite and eagerly wish for these people to be ostracized. There are those who are not heavily invested, watching out of sheer curiosity or with fleeting interest in the happenings acting as simple observers for the whole thing.
As would-be journalists, it is our job to record the news and the big issues occurring in the world today. And though we must be impartial recorders, the very act of highlighting or covering something in itself gives it power. It is with this thought that we can strive to make the world a better place, and allow our fellow people to get along just a little bit better than before we came along, if nothing else. The problem here is that transgender and transsexual individuals are still discriminated against simply for who they are.
That being said, things are beginning to look up! We’ve seen a lot of spotlight on trans individuals in the media lately. Just last year, Caitlyn Jenner set the world ablaze. While her actions and the reactions of those in the media and outside have certainly been subject to debate, the fact remains that she has nonetheless received numerous awards and much praise for her actions and for coming out and embracing who she is. Even before her, the notable directors and producers, the Wachowski Brothers, became simply the Wachowskis, first with Lana Wachowski and now recently Lilly Wachowski being open to being transgender individual.
Of course, these are only two examples of some of the more famous individuals we’ve seen go public about who they are, and the number is likely to rise. The public, of course, is reacting in many ways. There is plenty of support and positive feelings towards prominent transgender individuals and much praise for those with the courage to be forward about it, and yet there is also much pushback and decrying, not just from hate groups but from some of the more conservative groups that unfortunately for one reason or another find this to be a problematic thing. As journalists, we can shift this public reaction towards the positive, for the greater good and to allow transgender and transsexual individuals to be free to be honest and open about who they are and not have to worry about discrimination for that. To me, that sounds like a good enough reason to cover this subject, even if I’m hardly the first person to do so.