Many people do not know what transgender means. In the fight for gay and lesbian rights, visibility has driven a lot of the changes we have seen. The presence of gay and lesbian characters on television and the willingness of celebrities to be open with their sexuality has created normalcy where before there was fear. And though there is still a lot of fear centered around the community, there are shows like Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy, and Pretty Little Liars write characters who, despite sometimes extreme circumstances, are real, just living their lives as who they are. These characters are not just gays or lesbians. They are people, and their sexuality is simply a part of who they are. The trans* community needs more visibility.
Late night television is a good escape for many of us who want to catch the news in a funny way while also seeing some of our favorite actors and musicians either talk about their work or perform. The hosts duke it out with their monologues, trying for the funniest jokes to gain an audience in a timeslot when many are already asleep. But with humor, where must you draw the line between funny and offensive?
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a trans* character on Glee, Unique. I expressed concern about how the creators were going to handle the presentation of Unique’s storyline and how realistic it would appear because despite Glee’s track record of presenting those who in other outlets are underrepresented, sometimes the verisimilitude of these storylines can be sadly lacking. I was hoping Unique’s storyline would follow the more realistic story of Santana coming out to her grandmother, who was not accepting. Unfortunately, most people who come out do not receive a welcoming reception from family, so to present the situation in such a way more realistically depicted coming out, which is one of the most daunting things people in the LGBTQ* community face. We need representation in the media to allow people from without the community to see what it is really like to be a part of the community. Creating that connection can help us in steps toward equality.
Typing transgender into Google news today overwhelmingly returned results on Chaz Bono’s decision to join Dancing with the Stars (DWTS). Many articles I read were in opposition to his participation in the show, though there were some articles in support and some which refused to take a side on the issue, merely reporting the controversy.