Last night, GLAAD hosted an informative panel discussion on transgender people’s experiences interacting with the media. The panel featured Kye Allums, Laverne Cox, and Reina Gossett.
Tiq Milan, a writer and LGBT advocate announced that he has joined GLAAD as a Senior Media Strategist and also served as the panel's moderator. Tiq has been featured in magazines such as Swerve, Out and Black Enterprise, and contributed to the upcoming anthology, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves. Tiq was also featured on MTV's reality series, I'm From Rolling Stone and moonlighted as a music journalist.
Before an audience largely composed of transgender advocates and organizers, the panelists of Growing Visibility: Transgender People in the Media addressed their reasons for telling their personal stories in the media, as well as the challenges they often face negotiating boundaries and dealing with anti-trans attitudes where journalists are involved.
The evening's panelists included:
- Actress and advocate Laverne Cox (@LaverneCox on Twitter), who stars in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black.
- Athlete and advocate Kye Allums (@KyeAllums on Twitter), who was the first Division 1 openly trans athlete in sports history.
- Activist and writer Reina Gossett (@reinagossett on Twitter), who works at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) and blogs at thespiritwas.tumblr.com.
"I believe in visibility, but I also believe in just living our dreams. Sometimes, we just want to go and be who we are and live our dreams, and we each have the right to dream as trans people," said Laverne Cox. "And I know it's been true for me that living my dreams publicly has inspired others to do the same thing. Each of us in this room has the power to do that through our story, and through living visibly."
During the panel discussion, Laverne also spoke about Cassidy Lynn Campbell, a transgender teen in California who was named Homecoming Queen, only to face anti-trans remarks and ridicule through social media afterward. Laverne discussed the story on HLN's Showbiz Tonight, and encouraged people to tweet at Cassidy (@xocassidylynn) to show support for her and counter the negative comments she has received.
So happy Cassidy Lynn @xocassidylynn reports that she's doing better. Continue to send her your love. Show her love conquers the haters
— Laverne Cox (@Lavernecox) September 25, 2013
"Historical erasure of trans people, specifically trans people of color, trans people with disabilities, with HIV and AIDS, who are in prison, who are homeless, who are immigrants, so many of our legacies have been erased, and that's part of the transphobia that I think all of us have to navigate every day," said Reina Gossett. "So visibility means that we have a lineage that we can inherit...So often when the media portrays trans people, that visibility doesn't come with the kind of ownership that we need, and that we deserve. So I think visibility is important, but also how our narratives are put into the media."
Held at New York City’s LGBT Community Center, the panel was created in association with the New Organizing Institute (NOI) and its Public Narrative Training for Transgender Organizers.
The panel and the training are both part of an effort to bring transgender advocates and organizers together in conversation about how our stories are told in the media, and how that can be done strategically to the benefit of advocacy work.