Trans representation in media is a pivotal part of moving past simply acknowledging trans existence, on the path towards a clearer understanding of the diversity of trans experiences. The more varied the stories we tell, the less reductive the greater narrative will be. The more nuanced the narrative, the more visibly trans we may be.
Being Muslim and non-binary I’ve thought about visibility a lot. Because I wear a hijab my Muslim identity is very visible even when I might be safer if it wasn’t, but because the hijab is so associated with women my non-binary identity is often invisible even when I want to be seen. I’ve heard arguments about whether hyper-visibility or erasure is worse, but I don’t think it’s that simple.
Hyper-visibility means that I’m always being judged as a Muslim instead of as an individual. It means being profiled and harassed, and that I’m at a higher risk for violence. Erasure means that I get misgendered more, that it’s harder to convince people that I really am non-binary, and that I have to fight more to access support. It’s harder for me to medically transition because my transness is invisible to the doctors who act as gatekeepers, at that makes erasure dangerous too.
Visibility on my terms would mean people listening to me about who I am. It means that I get to speak for myself instead of having people speak over me. It would mean getting to be seen as my whole self, and that’s why I need trans visibility
Representation is so so important just so people, especially young people, can see that there are infinite genders and infinite ways to express them. If someone feels like there's maybe something different about them, something they could express in a way that's different to the people they see on TV, trans and gender-diverse representation opens the door to the possibility of them living a happier, more authentic life.
When visibility is both my freedom and danger, how do I decide if I want to be seen? What if they can already tell? Perhaps, it’s better to ask, who I want to be seen by. With no apology, I say that’s it me. To leave the house with my pearls is an act of self-service. For a moment, I see myself navigating the world as I dreamt to do when I was younger. I become my own representation I need and fight to be. Rather than be being a performance for the world, my appearance is a personal reminder of who I am. Of course, safety is a priority, so I act accordingly, which is the reality for most trans people.
Trans led representation is important to me because it is proof of what we can achieve. It broadens what I think is possible for my own life and my community. It combats the idea that we have to compete for limited resources. Trans people can lift each other up. We can have our stories and humanity told authentically and with depth.