This year, I had the exciting opportunity to attend Wondercon 2016. As I promised my lovely fellow staff members, I also sat at a panel about representing the transgender community in the media. Panel members were Shadi Petosky, Gillian Cameron, Kat Blaque, Julie Rei Goldstein, and Mikki Del Monica. Tara Madison Avery acted as the moderator for the panel.
Tara opened the panel with the line “I am trans enough,” which garnered both laughter and murmurs of agreement from the audience. Each panel member then introduced themselves. Shadi Petosky is working on a show concept for a character called “Didi Danger”, a woman who is unsure of what she wants to do in life. Petosky wants the show to be very progressive and has been working on it for five years. Gillian Cameron is the creator of an online comic where a knight, “Callie”, is transformed into a female maiden. Callie had always known she was female but now that she is transformed, she must decide what is most important. “It’s about getting what you wanted and possibly having to sacrifice your achievements,” said Cameron. Julie Rei Goldstein is an actress, having been in shows such as Henry Danger. She handles characters from both sides of the gender divide. Mikki Del Monica is a filmmaker who actually came out as trans while working on a film about a trans character. Kat Blaque is an activism vlogger on YouTube. She has also published a children’s illustration. Blaque says that while harassment online lead her to worry that she would be outed, she learned that harassment is usually from people who are intimidated by what she had to say. “The end goal of harassment is silence,” she says.
All of the panelists agreed that the media plays an important role in the advocacy of the trans community. “The internet is a free public platform. If you let people know [your work] is there then you have an audience,” said Cameron. Goldstein and Del Monica both agreed that trans people need more industry work. Goldstein says that we need to stop defining characters by gender, and that more trans actors are necessary. Del Monica added that more trans people are needed behind the cameras as well. For example, Blaque claimed that trans storywriters are needed, and that we need to phase out cis perspectives of the trans experience. She used Laverne Cox as an example, stating that Cox brings a layer of authenticity to her role on Orange is the New Black because she is trans.
Furthermore, the panelists talked about the ways in which trans actors are kept out of Hollywood. Petosky discussed how Hollywood has defamed and excluded trans people for years. Unions specifically have excluded trans healthcare, which is exploitation.
The panel was then opened up to a brief Q&A from the audience. The show Sense8 was brought up as a good form of media representation. One of the episodes portrays a trans woman experiencing sexual pleasure for herself, not for anyone else. This is an amazing piece of progress.
We have come far in representing everyone in our society, but we still have a long way to go until everyone is represented equally. The media is helping society move towards that goal.
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