TransgenderRights/Including Bathroom Rights
Transgenderindividuals are people whose sexuality does not follow the typicalmale and female gender rules. Therefore, a biological male couldidentify as a woman and vice versa. Also, a transgender person couldidentify as neither male nor female. Transgender individuals bring tolight the complexity of human sexuality. Further, they redefinesocietal beliefs on sexuality. When transgender people are placedunder the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) umbrella, it iseasy to assume that their issues are the same as lesbians or gays.However, the controversy surrounding the bathroom bill debate goes toshow that their plight is even more complicated. That is whytransgender and pro-transgender people have taken the discussion tosocial media in an attempt to bring the issue to the limelight.Historically, the plight of transgender people has been largelyignored social media is providing transgender people with a channelto enlighten the public on their issues and to advocate fortransgender rights.
Socialmedia`s influence in social change
Socialmedia began as a medium to allow people to share information withtheir peers. But in today’s setting, social media has the power tochange the way society operates. Social media enables people tocreate visibility of a particular issue. For instance, the hashtag“#iceBucketChallenge” was used to raise awareness of theexistence of the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis disease. Also, thehashtag “#DelhiGangRape” brought to light the glaring genderinequality situation in India (Sharma).
Timelineof transgender rights in America
Thehistory of transgender people in America is broader than what thisessay will cover. However, this article will highlight thesignificant events that have occurred since 1952, that have impactedthe push by transgender people in their attempts to attainingrecognition and rights.
In1952, Christine Jorgensen made history by becoming America’s firsttransgender person to undergo a sex-change operation which wassupplemented by hormone treatment. Later in 1959, L.G.B.T personsheld demonstrations in San Francisco outside Compton Cafeteria toprotest police harassment of a transgender woman. The Stonewall Riotsof 1969 perhaps marked the starting point of the L.G.B.T rightsmovement. During the riots, many lesbian, gay, and transgenderpersons protested what they termed as police harassment at theStonewall Inn (a famous L.G.B.T club in New York). In 1970, theStreet Transvestite Action Revolutionaries was started to providetransgender persons with a place to shelter and to advocate for theirrights ("Milestonesin The American Transgender Movement").
In1975, Minneapolis passed a law that protected transgender people fromdiscrimination. It was the first city to do so. Later in 1977, ReneeRichards, a transgender woman, was granted permission by the New YorkSupreme Court to play tennis as a woman. By the end of 1993,Minnesota had formulated policies that protected transgender personsfrom discrimination. It was the first state to do so. During the year1994, Gwendolyn Smith formed the first chat room that was dedicatedto transgender people. According to the founder, the chat room hadthousands of new visitors every month ("Milestonesin The American Transgender Movement").
Thefirst Transgender Day of Remembrance was held in November 1999. Itwas organized by Gwendolyn Smith. A year later, Rhode Island followedin the steps of Minnesota by enacting a non-discrimination law thatprotected transgender persons. In 2005, California extended itshealth care coverage to transgender persons. In 2008, Stu Rasmussenbecame the first transgender mayor in the US. 2010 saw Phyllis Fryebecame the first transgender judge in America and by the end of 2012,Title Six of the US Constitution was amended to include transgenderpersons. In 2014, Medicare coverage was expanded to cover genderreassignment surgery. Lastly, in 2016, the US military began toallow transgender individuals to enlist ("Milestonesin The American Transgender Movement").
Reportsby mainstream media
Themedia has been critical in highlighting the plight of transgenderpeople and creating awareness of what transgender people view asoppression directed at them. In an era where everyone strives to bepolitically correct, most mainstream media articles used in thisessay had either neutral or pro-transgender stances. Luxx notes thatTV shows and movies such as I am Cait, Orange is the New Black, andThe Danish Girl are popularized by mainstream media outlets as a wayto familiarize the public with transgender people and their issues(Luxx).
Socialmedia use by transgender people
Socialmedia has provided transgender people with more than just access toinformation since social media has also allowed them to create anonline community. One can only imagine how life was difficult fortransgender persons before the advent of the internet and morespecifically, social media. Social media brings together people whoare like minded. Transgender people can share their experiences, andby doing so, they can help each other during the coming-out periodand during the transition process (Norris).
Theuse of social media to advocate for transgender bathroom rights
JoeySalads used YouTube as a platform to perform a social experimentwhere he decided to test the reaction of women when they saw atransgender individual walking into a women-only bathroom. During histest, many women reacted with disbelief and disapproval when they sawhim in the washrooms. His video aims at emulating the real world. Itcan also be used by persons who are for and against the bathroombills. For instance, it can be interpreted to show the level ofintolerance that still exists within society towards transgenderindividuals. At the same time, those who oppose transgender bathroomrights can use it to show that society disapproves of transgenderedpersons using toilets meant for other sexes (Ruiz).
Anotheranti-transgender post that trended during the debate on transgenderbathroom rights was one by Kristi Merritt. One of her Facebook postsinvolved her dressing up in a Mexican attire and questioning whetherher dressing changed her nationality to Mexican. Subsequently, sheposed the question as to whether a man wearing a dress would beconsidered a woman. Her post trended and was shared thousands oftimes. However, she also attracted negative criticisms from peoplewho viewed her posts as hate speech and ignorance ("HowOne Woman`s `Bathroom Bill` Campaign Went Viral").
#WeJustNeedToPee.This hashtag was created to show support for transgender people whointend to use the bathrooms that match with the gender that theyassociate with, and not their biological gender. The hashtag wasdesigned to encourage transgender persons to share how they feel whenthey are forced to use toilets that go in line with their biologicalgender rather than the gender that they relate to. One of themost-shared Twitter posts that used the hashtag “#wejustneedtopee”was that by Michael Hughes who is a transgender man. He posted apicture of himself in a women’s bathroom and questioned whether hebelonged there and condemned attempts by some lawmakers to deny himhis bathroom rights (Ruiz).
Canesused the hashtag #PlettPutMeHere to protest what she views asdiscrimination against transgender people. Canes states that she isdiscriminated in restaurants and even public transportation systemsand adds that she fears that she might not be safe if she is forcedto go into a men’s only washroom (Subedar).
Socialmedia has been used to create awareness on the challenges facingtransgender people. Social media has allowed the public to give theiropinion as well as to become informed. Additionally, social media hasmade relevant the topic of transgender persons. Social media trumpsmainstream media because it captures a wider audience and it allowstransgender people to post their first-hand experiences withoutediting or censorship (Daniels).
Socialmedia has brought about many benefits to the transgender community.However, one should remember that these online platforms are alsoaccessible to persons who are critical of the plight of transgenderindividuals. Norris notes that transgender people face a lot ofcriticism from random strangers to organized hate groups made oftransphobic individuals (Norris).
Justlike other minorities, transgender people have been oppressedhistorically and have only gotten recognition in recent times. Socialmedia has been critical in allowing transgender people to bring theirissues to the limelight. It has also allowed critics of transgenderrights to voice their concerns. Such a discussion is importantbecause it creates public awareness on the issue. Social mediaenables transgender people to reach a large number of individuals.Facebook posts can be shared, and tweets can be retweeted. Thus,through social media individual transgender individuals can make animpact on the way society thinks of them.
Daniels,Cole. "How Social Media Affects The LGBT Movement (With Images,Tweets)". Storify.com.N.p., 2016. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.
"HowOne Woman`s `Bathroom Bill` Campaign Went Viral". bbc.com.N.p., 2016. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.
Luxx,Lisa. "Transgender Crosses Into The Mainstream".Telegraph.co.uk.N.p., 2016. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.
"MilestonesIn The American Transgender Movement". Nytimes.com.N.p., 2016. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.
Norris,Tess. "What Kind Of Impact Does The Internet, And Social Media,Have On The Trans Community?". huffingtonpost.com.N.p., 2016. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.
Ruiz,Rebecca. "How `Bathroom Bills` Started An Online War OverTransgender Rights". Mashable.com.N.p., 2016. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.
Subedar,Anisa. "`We Just Need To Pee` Transgender Protest".bbc.com.N.p., 2016. Web. 18 Dec. 2016.