GLAAD launches trans microaggressions photo project #transwk

Kita Updike, woman, she/her, model

Every day, trans and gender non-conforming people face overt and subtle discrimination as they try to go about their lives. As part of Transgender Awareness Week, GLAAD created a photo essay to highlight the more subtle forms of oppression trans people experience - often called microaggressions. Microaggressions are subtle verbal or behavioral slights that invalidate a person's identity or experience.

Shane Henise, GLAAD's Trans Media Intern and a Columbia University graduate student, created this project as part of his fall internship. Thank you to Shane and all of the people participating in the project. 

Trans people are encouraged to participate in the photo project by sending in their own photos illustrating a transgender microaggression. Tweet a picture of yourself holding a sign with a trans microaggression you've experienced and use #didyoujustsaythat and #transwk.

Now, let's hear from Shane about why he chose to make this photo project.

SHANE HENISE: I first conceptualized this photo essay because of an academic article I recently published titled Transgender Microaggressions in the Context of Friendship: Patterns of Experience Across Friends' Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

As I was learning about microaggressions in my academic coursework, there was little to no discussion of how they impact transgender people. The research calls microaggressions "death by a thousand cuts" and has shown that microaggressions can be just as, if not more harmful than overt expressions of bias. I wanted to take a concept that was dense and academic and make it simple and understandable for everyone by using photos of trans people holding statements that had actually been said to them. As heinous as some of these quotes may seem, I know that they have been repeatedly said to trans people, myself included. These are not isolated incidents.

I hope that this project will help people to be better allies. I encourage everyone to examine the underlying meaning behind their comments to trans and gender non-conforming people. Even a well-intentioned remark can be isolating; for example "You don't even look trans" was always startling to me because I am trans - and this is how I look!

I will close with words from the great Audre Lorde who said: "It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences."

Please see the photos from the project below:

Maya Jafer, trans woman, she/her, actress, advocate, and holistic doctor

Jacob Tobia, genderqueer, they/them, writer, performer, and part-time fashion icon

Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, trans man, advocate and social justice fundraiser

Seven King, trans male, he/him, writer, director, producer

Tyler Ford, agender/queer, they/them, writer and speaker

Tiq Milan, trans man, he/him, writer, advocate, and co-founder of MMaps (Milan Media Arts and Production)

Zoey Luna, trans teenager, she/her, student and advocate

Cherno Biko, Black trans woman, she/they, artivist

[Translation: "I can't give you a job, you would confuse people."]
Drian Juarez, trans human, she/her/they/them, activist, program manager, and educator 

D'Lo, trans, he/him, actor, writer, and comedian

D'Lo and his partner - cisgender, she/her, doctoral candidate in psychology

Cecilia Gentili, transgender gender non-conforming person, any pronoun, activist, trans health program coordinator, and contributor for "Trans Bodies, Trans Selves"

Michelle Enfield, Nadleeh/feminine, she/her, activist and advocate  [Nadleeh is a Navajo word.]

Peche Di, transgender, she/her, pansexual, founder and CEO of Trans Models

Shane Henise, trans man, he/him, researcher, advocate, speaker

Shane Henise is currently a graduate student at Teachers College, Columbia University, working towards a Masters of Education in Psychological Counseling. He serves as the Trans Media Intern for GLAAD and is signed with Trans Models NYC. Shane first began his advocacy work in the media after being featured in the Emmy-winning documentary, "Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word."