Transgender creatives to put on your radar

One+way+to+combat+the+damage+inflicted+upon+the+trans+community+through+negative+media+portrayals+is+by+celebrating+and+supporting+trans+creators.

Image: Ivy Marie Clarke

One way to combat the damage inflicted upon the trans community through negative media portrayals is by celebrating and supporting trans creators.

2020 marks the 21st year celebrating Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is recognized Nov. 20. It was begun by transgender activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honor Rita Hester, a Black trans woman who was murdered in 1998. TDOR brings attention to and honors trans people who have lost their lives due to transphobic violence. 

TDOR also spotlights other ways in which trans people can be hurt that — though not necessarily always directly lethal — are no less harmful than physical violence. 

Invisibility and negative portrayals of trans people in the media both impact the trans community catastrophically. While the former attempts to erase and “other” trans people in society, the latter encourages brutality against them. These consequences are heightened for trans people of color and trans people with disabilities. 

One way to combat the damage inflicted upon the trans community through negative media portrayals is by celebrating and supporting trans creators. The figures below are not only reshaping how trans people are perceived by society at large but also making waves in their respective artistic fields. 

Tourmaline

Tourmaline is an activist and filmmaker who has won national awards, recognition and fellowships for her work. Her mission is centered around historical trans people of color. She produced “Happy Birthday, Marsha!,” a short film about Stonewall figure Marsha P. Johnson; “The Personal Things,” an animation based on an interview with trans activist Miss Major and “Salacia,” a short film about a trans woman from the 1800s by the name of Mary Jones. 

Amandla Stenberg

Amandla Stenberg is an actor and musician who rose to prominence with their role as Rue in “The Hunger Games.” Since then, they have played in “The Hate U Give” and “Everything, Everything.” They also have a couple of enchanting singles out called “Be Mine” and “Let My Baby Stay,” both of which are especially heart-wrenching to gay listeners. 

Wu Tsang

Wu Tsang is a visual and performing artist interested in exploring the multifaceted nature of lived experience. Her work combines documentary and narrative, hidden and dominant histories, to dive into the implications of race and gender. Her work has been exhibited at the Tate Modern and the Guggenheim Museum amongst other international venues, and she has also been awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant. 

Danez Smith

Danez Smith is a writer and a spoken word performer whose work primarily focuses on gender and race and their consequences in our whitewashed, cisheteronormative, patriarchal society. They have placed in international slam poetry contests and have published their work across a myriad of magazines and journals. 

The works of all these creators, as well as many others, can be found on their websites.