Over the past few months I have spent a considerable amount of time sifting through different platforms of social media, looking at different users, and especially analyzing the type of media released. While researching what the fight for Trans rights looks like I’ve come to understand the kind of narrative that has been created for the movement, particularly in contrast with the movement to maintain gender roles. From the media posts collected over this period, it seems as though users on the side of Transgender rights are more positive and open in their new media approach. These posts tend to follow a style of encouragement, community, and self-love. From Laverne Cox advertising her Trans is beautiful photo shoots to Trans youth sharing their transition stories to the ACLU and Project Trevor providing resources and information, there is a lot of evidence pointing towards an inclusive, powerful, confident, and resilient community. They are a community that has chosen social media as a platform to speak, to share stories, and reach audiences. From the opposing side, I’ve seen posts from Breitbart media, Allen West, and the American Family Association that call Transgender rights an “agenda” being pushed just like gay rights; they want to boycott businesses and organizations for supporting progressive change and
inclusion. Their sentiment is typically angry or resistant. While they do unite individuals who refuse to accept a difference from the binary, they do not have the same sense of unity and community-it’s more like a group of angry people who are in the same vicinity.
Besides the different rhetoric used by either side, their sources differ as well. The Trans rights movement has used sources from various news outlets, document personal stories, distributed resources, and more. The movement to maintain gender roles has used media sources that have been consistently conservative, including pieces written by Breitbart media, and articles from sites such as “young conservatives.” Those users opposing Transgender rights seem to gain and spread information from conservative sources, limiting their range of ideas. Besides that, the language style is different as well. Like I stated previously, the Trans rights movement is more open, as evident with their language; they share with love and compassion. The opposing side tends to be more aggressive in their language. They find the Trans rights movement to be an attack on them for some reason, and that is evident with posts such as “When a Culture Rebels Against God”
or “…liberals pushing their ‘transgender bathroom’ agenda.”
Although the users against Trans rights are more aggressive in their online presence, they aren’t as passionate. I’ve found that while hateful ideas and comments may get more attention, compassionate and real posts, such as those by users involved in the Transgender rights movement, can spread a message further and better. For example, all the posts about boycotting Target for their gender neutral bathrooms gained a lot of attention and hateful speech, but posts that supported the change, #occupotty, also received attention but in a more widespread and uniting way. The type of message isn’t the only difference between the two groups. While all kinds of groups and organizations can have a variety of people involved, there is typically one demographic that may stand out as the majority. In this case, the group of people that, from my observations, seem to be the majority of the traditional gender roles group are white, cisgender, straight, middle to upper middle-class individuals. The majority of people in the Trans rights movement are more diverse. They range from people of color to queer individuals, to allies. The range is larger, and the majority are individuals who understand the struggle in one shape or form (i.e. skin color, gender, sexuality, etc.).
Overall, I have noticed a style difference between the two groups at play in the new media atmosphere. Those stylistic choices have shaped the way they communicate with their audiences, and especially the way individuals respond in those situations. I mean, there is a clear difference in messages of inclusion versus those of separation and resistance.