Venus Boyz

Venus Boyz is a documentary film directed by Gabriel Baur in the 1996 New York City life. Various participants of the LGBT community showed a creative and insightful look into their everyday lives. This documentary showed Drag King and Queens in and out of their characters. These people opened up their sexual life, their family life, and a small glimpse into the inside of their beautiful realistic mind.

The following characters below are biological female:

Bridge Markland who is androgynous person plays Karl and Angela. Karl is a sweet, king and non violent man. Angela is sex bomb that radiates self confidence. Bridge lives in Berlin and expresses herself as a neutral person, not expressing either genders.

Shelly Mars is an aggressive female that expresses that personality as MO B Dick. Shelly has been a Drag King for 20 years and performs alongside other Drag Kings in the bar in New York City.

Mildred Gerestant is a person that does not categorize his/her gender. He/she says in the documentary “I’m not a Butch or femme. I just–whatever im feeling. I can be one way one day and another way the other. I just know it.” Mildred is a quite shy and to herself during her full time job as a computer analysis. But when she changes into Dred he becomes an erotic, lively man that says or does whatever he wants.

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Storme Webber knows Mildred as his “Granny”. Storme was born and raised with a lesbian mother and a bisexual African American father. For being exposed to the queer culture as a young girl, Storme developed the mindset to handle anyone looking at her/him through outlooks only through distinct race and gender. As a transgender he/she is drawn to identity indifference, it gives a sense of comfort. He/she express,

“And so with Masculinity its the same. Its what surrounds it you know, its this its always a, the dichotomy, its the moving forward and the holding back and the being vulnerable and this is what is interesting that’s what i find that makes any performance good passion.”

Diane Torr mostly enjoys portraying herself as male characters. In her previous years before drag she was was married and had a daughter. But she wasn’t happy with herself, and so she found something that made her feel comfortable, which was being a Drag King most of her every day life. She feels more respected and more confident living as a man and dating butch lesbians. She also explains the outlook on women,

“As woman its like were open for access 24 hours a day.

 

People have to like us. That’s like the ruling thing in our psy

ches. So what does it mean to be a woman? What kind of a woman am I? I want you to like me. I want you to hold me. I want you to fulfill my dreams.”

Judith Halberstam a gender theorist says:

“We don’t as individuals reinvent the meaning of gender. Each person individually, one person at a time. We, we come in to genders that have already being constructed for us within political, economic, social cultural context. So what we do, when we are in agenda is perform an already socially constructed script.”

All of these participants may not identify as a female in this documentary biut make no mistake,they love their genitals and do not want surgeries to permanently keep them from being a biological female. Not many people outside of the LGBT community such as myself knew their are Drag Queens and Kings, who are both fighting to break stereotypes given to them.

In class we discussed the comparisons and contrasts of Caityln Jenner and the character Moira in the move “Transparent”. Although Caitlyn does not perceive highly to some members of the transgender community, she still suffered in what every woman in the documentary has gone through; and that is being an outsider.Moira in the show does show authenticity and reliability which more transgender people can gravitate towards but it was just a character in a TV series. Desire, sexual orientation, body, romance have no gender identity labeled with only men and woman, but i feel only pure satisfaction and self acceptance to ones self.

 

Jin Xing: I don’t want the world to change me too much

Jin Xing is probably the most renown representative of the LGBT society in China. She entered the military’s dance troupe in ShenYang, China, at the age of 9. She was the first Chinese who received full scholarship from the United States and she came to New York to study modern dance. She then went to Europe, including rome, to travel and teach modern dance. In 1995, 26 years old Jin Xing decided to perform a sex reassignment surgery and become a woman. As a well-known choreographer and dancer, Jin Xing now owns her own dance company, her own talk show. She knows five languages and she is a wife, and the mother of three children.

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One unique thing about Jin Xing is that, she does not see herself as a transsexual, she see herself as a woman instead. She is successful not as a transgender, but as a person, a woman. People also do not refer her as a transgender woman. If you ask a Chinese about Jin Xing, I believe most of them will regard her as “the legendary female dancer and choreographer”, instead of “a successful transgender woman”. In contrast, Caitlyn Jenner, who just got the ESPY award, is still having an public image of a transgender. Jenner’s speeches, including her show “I am Cait”, emphasize on her process of becoming a women and how hard was it. During our discussion in class, many people said they think Caitlyn was really fake in her show. This is completely opposite with Jin Xing, who is also known as the “poison tongue” in China, because she only say the real words. Jin Xing Also, While Caitlyn Jenner is trying to influence the world of transgender people with her experience, Jin Xing is being a role model herself, as a transgender woman, who is a dancer, choreographer, a talk show host, and a talent show judge. Jin Xing is trying to influence the world by being successful while still being herself.

On the other hand, JinJXg Xing’s determination led to her success. At a young age, Jin Xing was determined that she wants to pursue a career as a dancer. She used hunger strike to persuade her mom to let her learn dancing. Being a transgender in China is definitely more difficult than in the U.S., especially at that time when Jin Xing did the surgery. Transgender was still kind of a taboo and being homosexual was a crime in China. Also, the technology was not that advanced. One has to be really determined to make this decision and to be willing to bear the consequence. An accident during the surgery almost paralyzed her leg and doctor told her she may never be able to walk again. However, she practice hard with her paralyzed leg and believed that she will be able to dance again, and she did.

Jin Xing is definitely one the most influential women in China. She has her own unique way when looking at things including politics and problems in China, and they are always presented in a humorous way in her talk show. Those are her personal ideas and she is speaking by heart. She said that, “I don’t want to change the world, but I also don’t want the world to change me too much. I just want to be myself.”JX2

Real Man Adventures

Real Man Adventures, shown below, is a novel by a transgender man named T Cooper. It was published in 2012 making it a pretty recent book. This book is essentially a transgender memoir. Although the word memoir is never actually used to in the book, that’s basically what it is. Cooper talks about many different things throughout the novel ranging from sex to violence to transgender violence to when he “knew”.

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My favorite chapter in this book is called “A Few Words About Pronouns”. This chapter starts out with “what’s the first thing people ask when a woman is going to have a baby? Is it a boy or a girl?” Everybody cares about a baby’s sex and nothing more. The main concern of people is what’s in someone’s pants. The question second to that is, as T Cooper says, “is it healthy?”, but that isn’t the main concern. This links in to queer culture because as we all know sex does not necessarily correlate with gender. Within the chapter Cooper goes on to talk about how when he first started using male pronouns people would screw up, and he would be like no it’s okay, it’s probably hard for you. He then said “I stopped being so goddamn accommodating and started gently correcting people”. That’s a big deal. The point in which you stop letting people screw up because they don’t feel like getting it right is a big step. It is an uncomfortable thing but as he said “…you know what’s mildly uncomfortable? Not being seen for who you are, especially by people who are supposed to know and love you”.

This chapter of the book as well as the entire book relates back to our class very well. I think it connects very much with Susan Stryker’s transgender rage. The novel itself is all transgender rage filled. Throughout the book, Cooper words things in a somewhat bitter and cynical way with a hint of some “dark” humor. In the chapter I spoke about, when he wrote “…you know what’s mildly uncomfortable? Not being seen for who you are, especially by people who are supposed to know and love you”, I believe it channeled the anger and bitterness of how he felt when people screwed his pronouns up without really trying. I personally understand that feeling of anger and bitterness about things like that. It’s easily equated with Stryker’s description of transgender rage.

Better Than Chocolate: A Lesbian Happily Ever After

Better Than Chocolate is a Canadian romantic comedy directed by Anne Wheeler. Released in 1999, the film was, and continues to be, ahead of the curve in its depictions of lesbian love, life, and community. The film follows the life of Maggie, a recent college dropout who works at a lesbian bookstore, Ten Percent Books, where she lives until she is forced to get a real apartment when her mom and brother move in with her. She also works as a dancer at The Cat’s Ass, a nearby lesbian nightclub. Maggie meets Kim, an artist living out of her van, the same day her mother calls, and Maggie invites her to move in with her as well. Most of the comedic action ensues in the first few days after Maggie’s mother Lila and brother Paul move into the apartment, as Maggie and Kim must navigate their new relationship in secret.

Throughout the film, Maggie has a variety of interactions with other lesbians and queer women, most notably Frances, her boss, who is occupied for much of the film with fighting customs for her confiscated books, and with fellow nightclub performer Judy Squires. Two romances play out during the film, one between Maggie and Kim, and another between Frances and Judy. In addition to the positive portrayal of lesbian love between Maggie and Kim, the film also provides a look at the acceptance and rejection Judy feels as a trans lesbian woman.

Unlike many of the sexualized depictions of lesbians in popular culture, Better Than Chocolate shows that sexual relationships between women are more than steamy sex. Maggie and Kim’s relationship is cute and sexy, not just sexualized, and they are not framed for the “male gaze,” rather, camera angles allow for a sense of privacy without being too far removed to show their intimacy. They do have sex their first night together, but despite their relationship moving along fast, their intimacy is realistic and loving. Not only do they laugh together, but they embrace the awkwardness of getting to know each other, both in and out of bed.

Maggie and Kim blend art, love, and sex on their first day together.

In order for Maggie and Kim’s relationship to work in the end, however, Maggie must be open to the world, specifically her mother, about her feelings for Kim. Ultimately, this is only possible because both characters, mother and daughter, grow during the course of the film. Lila is the one who finally brings the topic up and asks them what is going on, and at this point, she is ready to be open to her daughter. But when Maggie is unable to tell her mother that she loves Kim, the relationship is temporarily broken. Lila’s development is important, however, because it offers an alternative narrative in which a child’s homosexuality can actually bring a family closer together rather than tearing it apart. Lila is willing to open her eyes and accept Maggie’s sexuality and decisions, and the end of the film provides a moment of resolution for mother and daughter.

Even though it is ultimately resolved, this break in their relationship is hard on both Maggie and Kim, and both rely on Judy to vent their feelings and ask for advice and comfort. Judy also supports Lila, befriending her upon her arrival, out of concern for her loneliness. Rejected by her parents and habitually attacked and mocked by some patrons of The Cat’s Ass, Judy lives perhaps the loneliest life of any of them, and yet she never gives up or stops asking to be taken seriously. Even though Judy’s character is not played by a trans woman, her character is not treated as a joke; instead Judy is a character with depth. It is very important for her to distinguish herself from male drag artists, and more than anything she would like to be accepted as a woman and as a lesbian woman by other queer women. After all, she too has hopes and dreams and a desire to love and be loved. Also important is her refusal to forget her rage. She has no sympathy for her parents, and, as her performance at the club shows, no sympathy for those who disrespect her gender.

Judy and Frances find love.

Refreshingly, both relationships end happily. While many queer films culminate in tragic death or focus on loneliness, it is a tragedy that brings them together. In this way, the film provides a happy ending for these four characters while still being able to address issues of violence and hatred that comes both from society at large and from within the lesbian community. The positivity at the end of the film is a stark contrast to the life and death of Willa Cather’s Paul. Written more than 90 years before Better Than Chocolate was released, Paul, like Judy and to some extent Maggie, feels isolated and trapped, but instead of being exiled for their behavior, the two women are able to find love and acceptance. Maggie takes power into her own hands by deciding to protest book censorship and her own personal censorship of herself. Judy decides to be her authentic self and to lung into love. Hopefully this film will continue to shape more recent narratives into ones where this is possible.

Mrs. Doubtfire

A movie loved by most, Mrs. Doubtfire, starring the late Robin Williams, as an actor who’s life is basically falling apart: he recently quit his job, he is just divorced, and because of said divorce, he his now homeless. In order to turn his life around, the main character Daniel, dresses up in granny drag as a 60-ish year old woman playing the part of a nanny in his ex-wife’s household.

Filmed in 1992, Mrs. Doubtfire was a prime example of what gender norms of the 90’s were supposed to be. The cultural panic about divorce and the decline of men’s roles at home lead to insecurity about masculinity. Playing on that, in Mrs. Doubtfire, the mother wears the pants in the family, so Daniel has to prove his worth by wearing a dress.

In the process of trying to get the job of his ex-wife’s nanny, Daniel pretends to be a few different characters to throw her off. During one of the phone calls, his ex-wife informs the character that she has two daughters and a son. With this the character replies “oh, a boy. I don’t work with the males, ‘cause I used to be one.” His ex-wife immediately hangs up with a disgusted look on her face that implies “I could never have someone like that in my home!”

When looking at this joke from a perspective of audience members in 1992, it worked well. Now, it appears to be transphobic and insensitive. Although, during that time it was probably not intended to be offensive to transgender people, it did come out that way. In today’s society, especially, with famous transgender figures such as Lavern Cox and now Caitlyn Jenner make it difficult to make such gender-bending comedies without seriously offending someone. Some people even compare Caitlyn to Mrs. Doubtfire.

Later in the movie, Daniel goes to his brother and brother in-law’s house in order to transform into a 60+-year-old woman, introducing drag into the movie. Although they don’t outright call it drag in the movie, nor does Daniel go all out while doing his makeup like some drag queens we see such as Bianca Del Rio, we are able to get a taste of what drag queens might go through if they are going in and out of drag in a bathroom somewhere where it might not be accepted.

Towards the end of the movie, Mrs. Doubtfire agrees to go to dinner with his ex-wife’s family as well as meet a television producer at the same restaurant on the same night. At one point, Daniel forgets which table he’s going to in which costume, so he accidentally goes to the television producer’s table dressed as Mrs. Doubtfire. With this the television producer is surprised as questions why he’s dressed as a woman. Daniel, thinking on his feet, decides that it would be a good idea to make a television show about her, using his granny drag to help his career as an actor.

Trans vs. Drag: A Clash of Terms

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Left to Right: Manila Luzon, BenDeLaCreme, Pandora Boxx, Jinkx Monsoon

In the wake of the “Female or She-male” controversy surrounding RuPaul’s Drag Race and transgender activists, in which the segment was deemed degrading and offensive, ThinkProgress writer Zach Ford penned a very comprehensive and balanced article titled “The Quiet Clash Between Transgender Women And Drag Queens” where he delved into the growing tension between the transgender and drag communities concerning terminology and representation. Transgender activists were upset by the nature of the “Female or She-male” segment and its use of the word “shemale,” which asked the contestants to look at pictures of bodies and they had to guess if they were biological, cisgender women (“Female”) or drag queens (“She-male”). Although LogoTV and Drag Race addressed the controversy by pulling the episode and cutting out the “You’ve Got She-Mail!” intro, Ford writes that “the incident has continued to be a flashpoint about how the visibility of drag culture on Drag Race impacts public understanding of what it means to be transgender. Questions about the appropriate use of words like ‘shemale’ and ‘tranny’ speak to a larger conflict over media representation and the authenticity of identities.”

Ford then incorporates interviews with four Drag Race alumni (pictured above) and a genderqueer individual, who speak about the usage of these terms and what it means to be in that conflict. He then goes on to discuss the conflict of representation and identity, in which it is said that because of the visibility of drag queens (and their usage of words like “tranny” and “shemale”), those not in the LGBT community are not privy to the nuances, and therefore can confuse transgender women as drag queens (a.k.a. men in dresses). This strips transgender women of their identity. The questions provoked by this are “Are transgender women drag queens?” and “Are drag queens transgender?” In regards to the former question, transgender women are not drag queens, unless they participate in drag as a profession (much like transgender performer Kylie Sonique Love). As for the latter, the answer is a bit more complex. Ford writes that the answer “[depends] on who is considering the question and how, the answers “Yes,” “No,” and “Sometimes” could all be accurate. That’s because the word “transgender” can mean different things in different contexts.”

Kylie Sonique Love

Kylie Sonique Love Click Here for Kylie’s opinion on the RPDR controversy

Les Feinberg wrote in “Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come” about the ever-evolving nature of terminology within the transgender community, with words and identities going in and out of fashion and shift definitions. this can be plainly seen in the complexity of answering the aforementioned question, in which transgender is both the term for people assigned a gender at birth and realize that they identify with another gender and transition and as “an umbrella term, the “T” in “LGBT” has also been long-used to encompass all gender identities that are nonconforming to society’s gender norms. […] These various interpretations accommodate gender identities and expressions that are not easily measured by a man-woman binary.”

Ford then brings in various voices from the transgender community, like transgender activist Riki Wilchins who states that “Transgender was intended as an umbrella term, then a name of inclusion. But umbrellas don’t work well when one group holds them up.” This is the opinion of those who were outraged by the “Female or She-male” mini-game, who believe that the transgender community is just for transgender men and women. Other transgender activists, like Harper Jean Tobin, Director of Policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality, who addressed her position in her keynote speech at the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, discussing the complex overlap of “transgender” identities. She touches the place of gender nonconforming individuals (genderqueer, agender, genderfluid, etc.) and all forms of gender expressions outside the binary within the Transgender community. She states that “there is also a fear, I think, on the part of some trans men and women that even acknowledging the existence of non-binary identities will threaten our right to be recognized as the men and women we are. We must resist the fear that there is not enough dignity and justice to go around. Our movement must recognize and elevate the voices and the rights and the leadership of trans folks who are not men or women.”

Casey Plett

Casey Plett

Casey Plett blogs about this very issue, and seems to be able to see both sides of the conversation, acknowledging the history of these terms and also the pejorative uses of these terms and how they can invalidate transgender identities. She states that she has a connection to terms like “tranny” that is positive. She seems to be in the middle of this conflict, though “the vocabulary game can’t be won.”

Gender Diversity Creeping Into Society

For so long, we have only been able to choose our gender from a dichotomy: male or female. However, within the past two years, there has finally been some progressive activity towards recognition of multiple and varying gender identities. One of the most popular social media websites, Facebook, created a multitude of gender options for its users at the beginning of 2014. Now, in 2015, there are a few progressive universities following suit. While not as diverse as Facebook’s options, the University of Vermont, the University of California, the University of Albany, and Harvard University have all taken steps towards more open gender expression and recognition. While the simple pronouns of he and she may not seem important, to many people in the world, these small recognitions are giant leaps forward in gender acceptance.

Referring to someone not by their name, but by their gender pronouns is so second nature to the human brain that most of us put little to no thought into it after we see what a person looks like; more often than not, we recognize an abundance of masculine or feminine qualities in a person which is then followed by an immediate and subconscious assignment of the pronouns “he” or “she.” What a good chunk of people do not realize, though, is that there are a significant number of individuals who either do not identify as the gender those individuals outwardly express or who do not even identify as the traditional male or female genders.

“Gender’s very flexibility and seeming fluidity is precisely what allows dimorphic gender to hold sway.” -J.J. Halberstam

As we have read from Leslie Feinberg, transgender habits, thoughts, and ways of life are not new concepts or practices, and, in fact, they have not only been around in most documented cultures, but they have even endured through the worst of hardships. This furthers arguments made by J.J. Halberstam as well; Halberstam understands that we as a society don’t have strictly male and female identities, but rather masculine and feminine qualities which we designate as male or female. Consequently, this leads him to ask why we don’t already have multiple gender expressions and identities in our society. Perhaps we, as a society, have made little progress due to the male and female categories being “so elastic” as Halberstam describes; or perhaps Feinberg’s gender continuum already exists—not in the form of multiple gender identities, but rather with these “elastic” categories of male and female. Maybe this is why the gender binary has endured for so long; maybe the elastic male and female continuum is adequate. However, contrary to what the mass populous has deemed satisfactory for so long, many people and institutions have determined the current gender binary to be sub par.

“It is apparent that there are many ways for women and men to be; everything in nature is a continuum.” -Leslie Feinberg

Fortunately, in the past two years, progressive institutions have taken steps forward to queer our normative culture by forcing alternative gender identities into our binary system. These institutions are not simply radically suggesting that individuals should have more than two options when trying to identify one’s gender; instead, they are recognizing these identities by enforcing the various identities under the domain of their own institution. While not standardized between the institutions, each is making small steps towards a, hopefully, national change.

Examples of Gender Pronouns

Some Facebook Gender Options

Recognition as simple as a third gender of neutral—like that at the University of Vermont—or just the option to choose your own gender pronouns—like Harvard University—could make a drastic change in the lives of transgendered and gender-nonconforming people. These smaller changes nationwide could be a more conservative addition to our society’s tight gender binary; after people get used to the small changes, options to have multiple and varied gender options like that at the University of California and the University of Albany—universities at which students can choose between six or more options ranging from the standard male to trans woman to gender-queer—could be a progressive outlook for the future. Although our society may never get to official public recognition of the 50+ gender options listed on Facebook, these institutions are creating a path for future movement in gender expression.

If we’ve learned anything from the past, it is that gender differences and ambiguities exist within the seemingly everlasting male/female binary. We may be destined to stay within dichotomies, but I think we are starting to see that change is eminent. Because of these small, yet revolutionary, changes in gender recognition, I believe these institutions deserve a spot in this archive.

Vanity Fair’s Not So Relatable Special Edition Issue

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This “special edition” magazine was created by GQ, the New Yorker, Vogue, Glamour, and Vanity Fair and published on August 18, 2015. The issue of this magazine features a bunch of transgender women and some transgender men. There are a ton of different pieces on transitioning, the struggles of being transgender, gender identity and expression, even the murder of Brandon Teena (which the movie “Boys Don’t Cry” is based off of), and many more things. It is interesting insight from each writer and their article. This issue was making an effort to help people understand the lives of transgender people.

Now, what makes this “special edition” so special? Well as people who are familiar with the transgender community, it should be known that there isn’t much transgender representation in popular media. Although the representation has increased in recent years, it is still not where it “should” be. GQ, the New Yorker, Vogue, Glamour, and Vanity Fair are all really big magazines and the representation that was given here was much appreciated. Yes this issue has some flaws, which I plan to talk about later in this piece, but any attempt to teach cisgender people things about life as a transgender person is very much appreciated by the community. One of the pieces is about a transgender boy named Skylar. The piece, About A Boy, talks about Skylar’s social/internal transition (his feeling like he wasn’t a girl when he was younger) as well as his medical transition. This is what makes this edition so special.

How does this relate to our class? Today we were talking about Caitlyn Jenner’s ability to relate to the average transgender person or lack thereof. This whole magazine is full of transgender people most of us other transfolk cannot relate to. Laverne Cox is the only one that has a relatable story behind her. Now, back to the not relatable people. Each transgender person has a different level of difficulty to relate to. The ones on the “maybe some can relate to” side are Jazz and Skylar. It is difficult to relate to both of them because most transgender children, teens, and even adults struggle with families not accepting that. That’s just how it goes. Also, unlike Jazz, most transgender children don’t have a reality television show. Just saying.

Then on the far side that is “this is not relatable whatsoever to 99% of the transgender community” set of folks. The main person in that category would be Caitlyn Jenner. Really, how many transgender people come out and in less than 6 months look flawless in the body they’re supposed to be in? Not many. Most transgender people are in a lower socio-economic class because there is nothing protecting them in the workplace. Inside the magazine on one of the first five pages it says, “90% of transgender people have faced disrespect, discrimination, or violence in some critical aspect of their life including in employment, housing, and healthcare simply for being who they are”. That really does make it hard to relate to her and to get the “Caitlyn Jenner effect” of transitioning quickly and flawlessly. With that said, however, each transgender person is somewhat relatable. This is only because they all have the struggle and pain of being born in the wrong body. I am not trying to undermine anybody’s struggle; it’s just that, in the words of Nicky Nichols from Orange is the New Black, “some shit stinks worse than other shit”.

Some Assembly Required

Some Assembly Required is a memoir by seventeen-year-old Arin Andrews. Published in September 2014, it shares the many experiences Arin had growing up transgender. Beginning with stories about his early childhood (like loathing performing in dance recitals) and leading up to high school milestones (like going to prom), Arin discusses his gender reassignment and the struggles he faced while transitioning.

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This memoir does more than just speak to transgender teens. It resonates with readers of all ages and genders and informs them on what being transgender is really like in today’s society by providing a modern, honest and vulnerable journey for readers to relate to and does an excellent job on educating readers of the difficulties faced while growing up transgender, as well as on the transition process itself.

One of the most significant points in the memoir is when Arin begins his hormone replacement therapy. A reoccurring idea made throughout the text is that it’s extremely difficult to feel complete and comfortable with yourself if “the outside does not match the inside”. Arin refers to the day he started taking testosterone supplments as his “second birthday”, and notes that even one day after the first injection there were changes in how oily his skin was, how fervent his appetite was and how cracked his voice was. Arin said, “It was all happening – just one more step to becoming the person I was meant to be.” Casey Plett, the author of “Balls Out: A Column on Being Transgendered”, also recounts in one of her articles the stretching ritual that became a part of her daily life. She said that likes to stretch out before and after she goes to sleep in order to feel the difference in her body that was due to her hormone pills. “It’s an added pleasure to the bookends of my day now,” she says. Moments like these, coming from real-life people in the transgender community, help best explain to anyone their simply joys and desire to feel perfectly comfortable in their own bodies.

Arin has a story that is not uncommon. The transgender community continues to grow and has been getting a lot of coverage for some time now. Arin and his ex-girlfriend Katie Hill received a ton of media attention for being a trans couple (more specifically a trans couple that was “safe for the masses – white, telegenic and heteronormative”). Arin noted that it bothered him that no one was interested in filming any of the other trans teens in his community, but at least they were getting the conversation started on a larger scale. It’s important to reflect on the fact that Arin is neither a fictional character nor a prominent member in society. As discussed in class, Caitlyn Jenner has nearly become the face of the trans community, and her story is one that is difficult to relate to being that she has lived her life in the spotlight. Although Arin and Katie’s lives were certainly glamourized, it’s important to recognize them as more suitable advocate for the trans community simply because of how relatable and raw their journeys have been.

Below is an interview Barcroft TV held with Arin and Katie about their transitions and relationship.

I am Jazz

TLC (Tender Love Care) formally known as “The Learning Channel” is owned by the Discovery Communications and has been televised since 1972. From the year 2001 and now, It has been focused on showing educational and learning content to its viewers. Lately, the network admits, “we began to primarily focus towards reality series involving lifestyles, family life, and personal stories.” Approximately 95 million American households have TLC broadcasted  on their cable TV’s in the study occurred in February 2015. On July 15, 2015 the first episode of ” I am Jazz” aired.

I chose this TV show because It represents Jazz as the normal teenage girl facing the common obstacles, yet she has announced she was transgender since she was two years old. She takes the ideal girl image and challenges the norm, which puts pressure on the values, and creates a different outlook on the word “identity”. She fails at being a biological man, but exceeds more in being an inspiring educating realistic woman. She has done more as a 14 year old girl than the average girl her age. In fact her show has sparked interest and inspiration across the globe, to which she receives fan letters and emails everyday expressing their gratitude towards her. But she has faced numerous of obstacles in order to make herself and everyone who loves her, happy.

  1. Girls travel soccer:According to the United States Youth Soccer Association, there are two types of team genders. Jazz is allowed to practice with the girls teams but not play in games. Jeanette and Greg Jennings fought with the board at the matter, the board replied, “she will hurt somebody.” Her parents argued with the stereotypical reply, ” She plays like a girl.” Jazz and her parents fought long and hard on this pressing issue, but sadly denied because of her gender.
  2. Female Restroom: In her middle school Jazz continued to use the nurses office until she was fed up with it. Her and her mother gathered up legalized records stating her female gender, and brought them to the administration at her school. When Jazz received approval, she knew it was another important challenge she over came in order to be seen as a woman.
  3. Teachers: Every year on the first day of school Jazz had to be the first one in her classes to be able to speak to her teachers about her “GID”. She would need to explain her reasons why it was important to be referred to as a “her” and by the name she went by everyday.

Jazz was one of the youngest known cases in America to be documented as being in transition at two years old. Even though her obstacles are far from over, she uses her negative and positive experiences to encourage her supporters to do whats right for yourself, and shows what can be done in schools and sports to make that happen. For six years Jeanette has been speaking at Universities in South Florida to educate graduates and medical students about the LGBTQ scale and specifically gender dysphoric.

Transgender Symbol

Jazz’s achievements consist of:

  1. Being the leader of the trans kids movement.
  2. Jennings founded Purple Rainbow Tails, a company in which she fashions rubber mermaid tails to raise money for transgender children.
  3. She was also named one of “The 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014” by time,
  4. Recognized as the youngest person ever featured on Out​s “Out 100” and Advocates “40 Under 40” lists
  5. Became a spokes model for Clean and Clear’s “See The Real Me” digital campaign and shared “the trials of growing up transgender.”
  6. Wrote the novel “I am Jazz” in 2013.

Below is a an interview with news broadcaster Katie Couric that sums up her book “I am Jazz” and a little more about her coming out to the public.