Depiction of Trans Women in Mainstream Television Essay

Depiction of Trans Women in Mainstream Television Essay

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The depiction of trans women in mainstream television has been offensive, insulting and derogatory, and it can be argued that this depiction reflects mainstream and heteronormative America’s opinions on transgender life. Television has presented trans women as imposters, placing them into two categories: deceptive or pathetic. The GLAAD article “Victims or Villains: Examining Ten Years of Transgender Images on Television,” examines over 100 episodes on mainstream television that contained transgender characters since 2002. Of these, more than half were characterized as containing negative representations of transgender. In 2007 only 1% of television series had a recurring transgender character, which slowly increased to 4% in 2013. Characters who aren’t clearly identified as one gender or the other are never presented as “normal,” and are usually the subject of comedy or tragedy.
In television, the portrayal of transgender characters in a negative manner demonstrates a widespread problem of social stigma that has been directed against the trans community by mainstream culture. Storylines that include a trans character often depict those characters as “victims,” killers or sex workers. All too often on television, transgender life is paired with the criminal world, particularly with prostitution. Unfortunately in reality many transgender individuals are indeed forced into sex work by financial hardship, but this is due not to the inherent tie between gender and criminal behavior and rather to mainstream society’s discrimination against the trans community. As we saw in Screaming Queens, the transgender community was forced into prostitution among many other degrading consequences of being trans. This idea has stuck and is more ...

... middle of paper ... Laverne Cox’s “Sophia” has set a precedent that the trans community needs a voice on television, because trans people are members of this society too.

Works Cited

Binnie, Imogen. Nevada. New York, NY: Topside, 2013. Print.

Kane, Matt. “Transgender characters that changed film and television”. GLAAD.
12 November 2013. Web. 09 Mar. 2014.

Kane, Matt. “Victims or Villans: Examining Ten Years of Transgender Images on
Television.” GLAAD. N.p., 21 Nov. 2012. Web. 08 Mar. 2014.

Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria. Dir. Susan Stryker. 2005.

Serano, Julia. Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating
of Femininity. Emeryville, CA: Seal, 2007. Print.

Valenti, Jessica. He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every
Woman Should Know. Berkeley, CA: Seal, 2008. Print.

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