Today is UK trans* activist organisation Trans Media Action’s Trans Camp event, bringing media and IT professionals together with trans* people to make positive change.
As part of the preparations, trans* people from across the UK were asked to give one minute video responses on the topics of childhood, media, comedy and family.
This is my response to the question of media representation. As a nonbinary person I felt erased or misrepresented by recent media coverage…
I’m nonbinary, that means I live as something other than a woman or a man. It also means I have next to no representation in the media.
Even in documentaries featuring trans* people with genderqueer or gender binary challenging identities or histories, like some of the participants in My Transsexual Summer, these are simplified, glossed over or completely edited out in fear of ‘confusing’ the general public.
If my life experiences are ever touched upon, they’re simplified to the point of misrepresentation. If I’m to be hinted at, it’s in the suggestion that some people are ‘in between’.
My gender and my body are not ‘between’ anything. My gender is not a balancing act. I’m not in the middle ground, I haven’t gone halfway and stopped. I am not half a woman and half a man, I’m not following two sets of sexist stereotypes. I do not ‘pick and choose’ about gender. And I’m not ‘on the fence’. And I’ve definitely not ‘de-transitioned’.
I’m a trans* person, I’m doing what I need to do to be true to myself.
Of course not all nonbinary people object to being described as ‘in between’; that’s an accurate description of some people’s gender identities. But there are many more people besides me whose experiences of being agender, bigender, fluid gender, genderqueer etc are erased by that simplification.
In my case, I experienced gender dysphoria and I did what it was necessary to do to become comfortable with my body. Doing so didn’t fix my social dysphoria though. I tried to be a ‘classic transsexual’, I tried to pretend to be a gender I didn’t truly feel I was. But I found ‘passing’ made me just as socially dysphoric as my assigned gender role had done.
It turned out that transition just wasn’t the perfect ‘package deal’ I’d been sold in the brochure, I had to go off the beaten track to find my own way to authentically express myself to the world.
It would be nice to see this represented in the media at all, especially on TV shows where some of the participants have similar feelings.
(And no, ‘androgyny’ and ‘androgyne’ don’t have to mean ‘in between’; the dictionary definition boils down to ‘having both male and female traits’, and anyway that’s my appearance not my gender).
See further one minute video responses on childhood, comedy and family from an androgynous nonbinary trans* person