Social Media and the Spread of the Trans Rights Movement

Social media has completely revolutionized the Trans Rights Movement. The use of social media has helped the Trans Rights Movement to gain a greater following and reach a wider audience. Furthermore, many trans rights advocates have used social media to urge TV show and movie producers to feature more trans actors and further the movement through that platform.

While Malcolm Gladwell argues that social media creates “weak ties” within a movement and decentralizes the focus of the movement, the opposite can be said for the use of social media in the Trans Rights Movement. Today, social media platforms such as Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat have become lifelines for many transgender teens and the large amount of information on those platforms have helped many people of the trans community who may be unsure about their gender identity or who have a lack of education on gender identity in their community at home. On top of that, many trans individuals now use social media as an easier way to come out and announce their gender identity to family and friends in order to avoid an overload of questions.

Leelah Alcorn

In 2014, 16 year old Leelah Alcorn committed suicide, posting her suicide note on Tumblr. Her death was extremely tragic, but the social media attention it garnered also pointed towards the greater use that social media has in the Trans Rights Movement. In her note, Leelah stated that she wished for her possessions to be donated to a transgender advocacy charity. Leelah’s death helped spur many discussions surrounding trans rights issues and problems with education surrounding trans rights throughout the world.

An ad about Bathroom Bills from Broadway show, Kinky Boots.

Since then, people have shared their experiences with transitioning, posted before and after photos of their transitions, celebrated the Trans Day of Remembrance, and used hashtags (such as #wejustneedtopee) in order to fight bathroom bills all on social media. TV shows and movies such as Orange is the New Black, Transparent, The Fosters, and Tangerine have also put trans rights on the big screen. Twitter and Tumblr have become integral parts in Trans Rights Activism. Ultimately, social media has become a vital resource to many young members of the trans community and has helped educate the general public.

By Sylvie Nelson

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