Scroll To Top

Why This Trans Girl's Protest Photo Is Not As Progressive As It Seems

Why This Trans Girl's Protest Photo Is Not As Progressive As It Seems

Why This Trans Girl's Protest Photo Is Not As Progressive As It Seems

Representation is good and all, but...


Mainstream media, through TV, movies, and the Internet, still seems to have a difficult time positively and intersectionally representing the trans community. This is due in part to homonormative influences inside and outside of the community, and in part to an obvious lack of societal concern for trans liberties and lives. Think about it. It's 2016, and we still have cisgender, heterosexual men playing trans women and cisgender, heterosexual women playing trans men (ex. Eddie Redmayne, Jared Leto, and Elle Fanning). Trans people are still being attacked with rapist and predator rhetoric, which prevents them from being able to safely use the restrooms they are entitled to use.

In response to the latter, the Meg Bitton Photography Agency of New Jersey posted a picture on Facebook of a young, white, feminine trans girl named Corey Maison protesting North Carolina's bigoted, anti-trans legislation, House Bill 2. Bitton wrote in the post: "If this was YOUR daughter, would you be comfortable sending her into a men's bathroom?"

[iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="782" scrolling="no" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" width="500"]

The point is valid, bringing up concerns that many "passing" trans people might have if and when they use the restroom of the gender they were assigned at birth. However, as well-intentioned and valid as this might be, the photo still capitalizes on some harmful beliefs that don't make life any easier for the trans — and gender nonconforming communities — in the long run.

Media & news website Mic, quickly jumped on the topic with a post entitled, "Trans Girl's Anti-North Carolina Photo Goes Viral For All The Wrong Reasons," which is completely true. The photo did go viral for the wrong reasons. People jumped onto this post because this young lady, (who shouldn't be faulted or personally scrutinized in any way), is "passing" and represents the aesthetics of the dominant, cis culture. She is feminine, skinny, has blue eyes, and blonde hair, traits our heteronormative and homonormative societies respectively embrace for girls.

The question then becomes, would the level of concern from the Internet have been the same if they chose a different child, perhaps someone who did not look like she does? This post can become implicit in policing gender norms in bathrooms.

People who are not passing like Maison should also be protected, because, after all, this legislation is about oppression, not safety. Criminals (particularly rapists) are not going to be concerned by laws because they're interested in committing a horrendous crime. Do we honestly think bathroom signs will (or have) prevent (or prevented) a man from following a lone woman into the bathroom? Let's be real about this legislation. It's not necessary to be playing devil's advocate, because there is no substantial evidence that suggests that the trans and gender non-conforming communities have ever been a threat to cisgender people in bathrooms.

We must fight for everyone's equality, and not just those who are easy to advocate for. This photo and post are not inherently bad, but perhaps the photographer could have added a more diverse range of photos aside from Maison, so that the message could be clearer and more inclusive: equality for all trans and gender nonconforming people.

This isn't necessarily a step backward, but it isn't a strong step forward. We can't fight an oppressive society by following their narratives. When we fight for equality, we need to do it on our terms.

Banner Image OneOut Magazine - Fellow Travelers

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories