On the side of supporting Transgender rights, the most shared and retweeted pieces of media (in relation to old media) have come from Laverne Cox, Breitbart, and other sources such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Although over the past few weeks the main focus of the world has been about the presidential election, causing social media to shift its attention to whatever outrageous thing Trump has said, or talking about Hillary’s relationship with her husband, we still see attention on Transgender rights. Since the mass media has not picked up on any “hot topic” issues with the LGBTQ* community in the past few days, the attention some posts are getting are on the smaller scale, but still relatively large. On the side of supporting Transgender rights, the most popular content involve LGBTQ* rights/discrimination and politics. Cox, Breitbart, HRC, and a few other favorite voices appear to be the most influential in the discussion of Trans rights/discrimination.
The content between the two points of view talk about basically the same thing, but in a very different way. The pro-LGBTQ* content gets to the nitty gritty; it discusses the outcome of discrimination and hate. This content is meant to trigger the audience and create a reaction to make a change. For example, Laverne Cox’s post about Jazz Alford is meant to insight outrage and open up eyes. According to the article, “Alford’s death [is] the 22nd transgender homicide this year, which means 2016 would officially surpass 2015 as the deadliest year for transgender people on record. “ Cox is using her social media platform to bring attention to major issues in the Trans Community; she has opened a dialogue between users. Social media has allowed for people to talk to one another about a piece of new, the things we hear on TV or read in the newspaper aren’t just distant stories, we now have access to one another and can understand how an event has impacted someone’s life. Cox’s post was shared over 1300 times and liked by over 6000 people. It’s popularity probably has to do with how it resonated with the audience, too many individuals in the LGBTQ* community can probably relate to it.
On the other hand, posts like those by Andrew Breitbart, which focus on the more conservative views, bring up discussion about maintaining gender norms, political affiliations, etc.
One of his more recent articles, which he posted on his Facebook page , was a discussion of how Trump supporters include a new group of queer individuals. In the article Breitbart explains that there was a movement describing that it’s okay to be a Trump supporter and gay, “no one has to know,” seemingly trying to reach a new audience while silencing them. Breitbart gets a lot of attention through social media, and I would even say his articles and views get attention because of his social media presence. This particular post was shared over 4000 times and liked over 16000 times, no doubt that he has an abundance of followers.
The HRC has also used social media to garner more attention to information from old media. Their website publishes articles about several stories, and they’ve use their social media accounts to promote the articles and spread their information better. In this article about LGBTQ* discrimination the HRC compares the policies of Trump and Clinton. Trump, according to the piece, has supported legislation in favor of discriminating against any LGBTQ* individual in government spaces because it apparently protects religious liberties. Meanwhile, Clinton has been documented as supporting LGBTQ* individuals, and supporting legislation that is anti-discrimination. While the HRC doesn’t have as much social media traction as other favorites, it does spread it’s media around more now because of it’s Facebook and Twitter profiles. This post had gained over 1000 likes, and over 400 shares, that attention alone is enough to spread more information and educate individuals on both sides.
Based on the information we collected, we can argue that social media has the ability to bring together differing groups, but on this particular subject, it allows for intense bifurcation. Both groups of people have a large platform to spread their ideas and connect with other individuals and groups who agree with their ideology; it doesn’t necessarily provide the path to bring the opposing groups together.
‘Modern Family,’ the television show, became the first television show to cast a transgender child actor! The story posted by the Huffington Post got 37k Facebook engagements and 370 twitter shares! It could be assumed that bringing a transgender actor into a mainstream television show would be quite polarizing. Not only did this program of an old medium cast a transgender actor, it casted an 8 year old, transgender actor. Of course, everyone has something to say about the life choices of children because they couldn’t ever have the cognitive capacity to understand things like gender or their own basic feelings.
The most shared story concerning transgender people in the last month is currently about the birth of a baby by an Ecuadorian transgender couple. It got 168k Facebook shares and 569 Twitter shares! The story is pretty confusing and surprisingly beautiful but of course it received a response of mostly confusion and rejection. The comments section for this article was blocked after 7 responses. One of them was positive. The other six were the same ignorant, unorganized majority that seems to plague situations like this. There isn’t a collection for these people in old media outside of picket lines outside of gay pride festivals. There aren’t as many Facebook groups devoted to trans hate as I would have thought there were.
Two days ago an article was posted on projectq.us, about the Pride parade and a crowd of anti-LGBT protesters formed in opposition of this celebration of freedom and happiness. It got 491 Facebook shares and 3 twitter shares (perhaps not that popular). They came armed with hateful signs and harmful words to shout at the children of the LGBT supporters. Almost all of their reasoning was based around Christianity. Going to the comments section of the post, there were a couple members of the anti-LGBT group continuing their rampage. Newspapers, television, radio… They all lead back to new media. In this situation, I don’t believe this specific article came from a newspaper but I’m sure the Pride Parade was all over newspapers everywhere and the hate-speech from these Conservative Christian groups would populate the comments section of any medium.
This event has given the community something specific to discuss. The subject of most conversation seems to be how old a person can be to make decisions like, “What gender am I?” Many people had comments to make on this event. Initial responses were either very positive or confused and negative. The top comments usually consisted of things like “Being labeled as transgender comes with a bit of weight to it. If these kids can make life decisions like this we might as well let them drive and vote while we are at it.” This comment had 1300 likes and a dozen replies by individuals in very different frames of mind. It’s incredible how a simple spelling error can change one’s perception of a comment. There was one comment supporting this man who felt the need to devalue the consciousness of children that misspelled the word “comments” as “commens” and I can never view this man any differently. No one felt the need to address Ian’s comment but another person who wanted to devalue the life experience of this child, Vanessa Marie, received multiple corrections to her viewpoints. Usually, the negative crowd in public forums such as these receive quite a few reactions to their comments. Sometimes these reactions from pro-trans rights supporters come in very aggressive, unprogressive ways. However, in this article there were comments that attempted to educate the ignorant! One man posted at least 4 articles about the reasoning behind all the sexuality confusion.
These days old media cannot be separated from new media. If a hot topic comes up it will be on both television, and youtube. Radio and podcasts. Newspapers and news web pages. This goes for the good and the bad. The trolls of the internet have infinite freedom to hurt those around them and it’s up to the rest of us to keep uplifting those around us.
-Leila Sadri and Sekayi Smarr
**some pictures weren’t showing up, we had more**