Transgender narratives often ignored
Mainstream media lacks comprehensive coverage of trans deaths
The existence of transgender individuals has been prevalent in mainstream media for quite some time now — but not for nearly as long as social classes like racial minorities have been. Laverne Cox is one such celebrity who is continuously referenced when discussing trans folks in the media. Her prominence in television acting as well in advocacy work in the LGBTQ community has solidified her position as a mentor and advocate. More recently, Caitlyn Jenner and the story of her transition have taken center stage in the media. Amidst some hatred, Jenner has been praised as a pioneer, a hero and an inspiration. So why is there a disconnect?
When people are talking about celebrities, it seems as though being transgender is okay. But when the issue is considered on an average, everyday level, all of a sudden there is a glaring issue. Simply because the majority of the world does not understand their stories, transgender individuals are targeted and victimized. They are dehumanized on a daily basis, and through job discrimination, they are meant to feel as if they are less than. When they are attacked, they’re called names and disrespected. When they are murdered, they are brutalized and left in deplorable locations.
Tamara Dominguez was hit by a car and run over three times, Mercedes Williamson’s body was found decomposed in bushes and Shade Schuler’s body was similarly found in a severe state of decomposition, and it took police two weeks to identify her body. This year alone, 21 trans women of color have been killed and murdered. Brutality is not an excuse for lack of education. Why do people feel the need to put their hands and weapons on people who are different than them? Attacking someone just because they have blue eyes would be considered barbaric. Killing someone just because they’re wearing heels should be regarded as insane.
Alternatively, the stories of trans men and women are rarely picked up by mainstream media outlets: Almost every story about a transgender individual being killed has been reported by LGBTQ-specific news outlets. Mainstream media will pick up on the story for the sake of discussing a person who lost their life to a hate crime. But after this 30-second clip airs or 400-word article runs online, no one cares anymore. Journalists don’t follow up on the story and criminal charges are rarely filed against the perpetrators. This lack of coverage likely results from an inherent lack of understanding as well, but such a fact does not excuse these actions.
For people who do not put social consciousness at the forefront of their thoughts and activities, remaining informed and being politically correct may be a difficult task. As individuals across the nation work toward living in their personal truth, new terms and concepts are constantly created in order to fit the trend of labeling and categorizing everything and everyone. Therefore, when a conscious effort is not being made to stay informed, mistakes are made. But just because staying informed is not easy does not create an excuse for being ignorant. Ridiculing, attacking or murdering a transgender individual because you do not understand or identify with their truth is utterly unacceptable.
Transgender individuals are often targeted and singled out for absolutely no reason. They get lumped together with the identities of many individuals, leaving their important narratives behind in the midst of cries for social justice. The stereotypes they are subjected to on a daily basis come from a place of lack of knowledge, but when individuals do not make the effort to educate themselves, horrible circumstances are abound. The narratives of transgender individuals are far too important to be shrouded in hate and misunderstanding. Therefore, education is crucial and lives are depending on it.