Transgender Rights: Facebook edition

The social media power struggle between conservative and liberal minds is constantly growing. Forums like Facebook have been a space for every mind to speak out about their opinions on any topic from race, to sexuality, to politics, to healthcare, to food. Particularly, in relation to “progressive” ideologies, mediums like Facebook and Twitter have been a favored space to debate, share, educate, etc. these topics. For Transgender rights specifically, like Twitter, Facebook has allowed users to express their thoughts on #transrights, #boycotttarget, #occupotty, and more. The ideas and themes that I came across most often in my Facebook search were actually pretty similar to those I found in my Twitter search. Mainly, the Pro-Trans themes included ideas of inclusion, unity, remembrance, spreading of shared knowledge, and issues with anti-Trans policies. There were some anti-Trans themes I was able to pinpoint, mostly it consisted of boycotting Target, and “disappointment” in certain policies that would be a “safety issue” for cisgender individuals.

I find it interesting that there are so many hashtags, Facebook pages, and statuses promoting Trans-Rights, that spread knowledge and ideas to better inform different communities. These groups of people and organizations don’t typically get as much attention as we would expect. For example, Laverne Cox, one of the leading Trans Rights activists with a huge social media presence, gets about 1.5-2 thousand likes on average on her Facebook posts, with a few high and low exceptions.13

Meanwhile, someone like Allen West or Andrew Breitbart, conservative, anti-Trans, anti-queer individuals, could get around the same traction if not a little more attention about their topics.

The strange thing is that people like Breitbart and West, or organizations like the American Family Association don’t even spend half of their time protesting these specific topics. They do push conservative viewpoints, show an anti-liberal side, and once in a while will jump on the bandwagon of the hot topic to fight against, i.e. Target’s bathrooms, abortion, and particularly these days politics/politicians.

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While they get a reasonable amount of attention for their posts that range from subject to subject, pages such as Laverne Cox’s or the ACLU don’t receive the same degree of traction, even though their posts and topics are more consistent about Trans injustice, LGBTQ* issues, and such.

The most successful people and organizations for #transrights that I’ve found on Facebook include, Laverne Cox, ACLU, GLBTSQ Alliance,, and the Trevor Project. Their followers range from several hundred thousand to over 1 million. Although pages such as Breitbart have a bit more popularity, I wouldn’t say that they have more reach or depth. Regardless of the amount more followers they supposedly have, the people around the Trans and Queer communities are more active and focused. They don’t jump from topic to topic, the pro-Trans community may include various sub-topics, but it is always connected to how #translivesmatter. We see this with Laverne Cox discussing the Target bathroom issue, as well as promoting Trans Beauty by showing herself off and creating body positive messages for her friends and others. Otherwise shown with the Trevor Project, which discusses the gender spectrum, the issues with a binary system, LGBTQ activism and politics, and more.

Overall, it’s always easy to find haters, people or groups that will disrupt, distrust, and fear anything they don’t understand. Although they may seem to get a lot of attention for their interjections within larger discussions, we should remember that this community of LGBTQ* individuals and allies has put more time, effort, and thought into their points and arguments. This isn’t just a bandwagon jump onto a particular topic. The ACLU, Laverne Cox, The Trevor Project, and all the others have a stake in these discussions. They participate for the longrun, they pay attention to people’s reaction to Target, to state legislations (such as the ones in North Carolina), to the things politicians say, and more.



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