(Facebook now offers custom gender options in their settings page, designed to include a variety of gender identities.)
Millennials are the most tolerant and diverse generation, as well as dedicated to implementing social change. They came of age during the fight for gay rights and acceptance and are no strangers to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues. Recently, we have seen more and more Millennials raising awareness regarding the struggles of those who do not fit into the gender binary. They are:
- becoming allies to the transgender community by educating themselves and peers
- calling out unfair portrayals of trans people in the media
- creating welcoming spaces for other Millennials to come out as transgender or gender non-conforming.
The media plays a large role in this increased awareness. Our panelists have brought up actress Laverne Cox (from Orange Is the New Black) in conversation; she is by far the most famous out trans celebrity at the moment. In fact, Cox will host and executive produce “Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word,” a one-hour documentary airing on MTV and Logo TV on Friday, October 17, 2014 at 7 p.m. ET/PT that will take viewers inside the lived of seven transgender youth.
We asked college students if they have been noticing or sharing more articles regarding gender and trans news.
High schoolers seem to be engaging with gender non-conformity and trans issues in more intuitive ways; meaning, they are growing up with a certain level of awareness and sets of resources set in place for them so they’re a little more used to having these conversations. More and more of our high school panelists have a peer or classmate who identifies as trans.
A few ways the Millennial trans community is being supported by peers, colleges and society:
- Sharing stories: Trans youth are becoming more comfortable sharing their stories, and peers are increasingly supporting them and helping them share these stories. One of our panelists shared an article from her Texas high school’s newspaper featuring an interview with a student who came out as a transgender young woman. It allowed room for this student to address what she was experiencing and come out to her fellow students, and the author refers to her with correct gender pronouns throughout.
- One of our panelists shared an article from her Texas high school’s newspaper, an interview with a student who came out as a transgender young woman. It allowed room for this student to address what she was experiencing and come out to her fellow students, and the author refers to her with correct gender pronouns throughout.
- Another panelist shared a Youtube channel, TRANScend, to which her trans friend contributes. It was started by six young transgender men who wanted to document their transitioning while also educating cisgender viewers on trans issues, offensive language, etc.
- Surgery Fundraising: Several trans youth have been successful crowdsourcing their surgeries, though it’s important to note that not every transgender person elects to have surgery. Fraternity members at both Rutgers University and Emerson College have raised money for brothers’ surgeries.
- Welcoming colleges: More and more rising college attendees are entering schools where work has been done to make the necessary space for transgender and genderqueer students – whether that’s providing gender neutral bathrooms or student ID of preferred gender pronoun in class. One high school panelist said that this link on Gender Pronoun usage at college campuses was shared a lot in her feeds late last year.
There are many resources available on transgender / LGBTIQ vocabulary, including MTV’s own Look Different campaign. GLAAD also has a helpful guide for people working in media on how to portray/talk about trans lives and issues. Here is a brief primer on some acceptable and unacceptable terms:
Transgender – Describes a person whose gender identity differs what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.
- A transgender identity is not dependent on medical procedures. Many transgender people are prescribed hormones, but not all. Only 33% of transgender people undergo some form of surgery.
- A woman who was assigned male at birth is a transgender woman or a trans woman. A man who was assigned female at birth is a transgender man or a trans man.
Cisgender – describes people who are not Transgender
Genderqueer – A term used to describe a gender identity that falls outside the category of “man” or “woman”
Not acceptable terms: Transvestite, Tranny, Hermaphrodite, Sex-Change Operation
Research by Stephanie Monohan