Becky Garrison: The Miss Universe Organization’s decision to change their rules so that transgender women can compete appears to signify a growing acceptance of trans individuals (GLAAD and other groups had admonished the organization). However, statistics from the Transgender Europe’s Trans Murder Monitoring project, noting more than 800 reported murders of trans people in the last four years, indicates this shifting is not universal. But the internet helps.
As a growing sign of the increased visibility of the trans community, academic, author and activist Helen Boyd, noted that one can now find over a hundred transgender related blogs. In addition, this community also connects with each other via Facebook, Twitter, Live Journal and other social media tools.
According to blogger Shannon T.L. Kearns, (http://anarchistreverend.com), the major topics and trends he observes in these blogs are commentary about medical transitions, reporting of hate crimes and other violence that the mainstream media fails to cover, let alone with respect and honor. Trans activist Cristan Williams (http://cristanwilliams.com) writes that the mission of her blog “Ehipassiko” is mythbusting trans history memes via actions like gorilla journalism and comedic critiques of anti-trans culture.
The Rev. Cameron Partridge, Th.D., an openly transgender academic–an Episcopal Chaplain serving at Boston University and teaching at Harvard University–and a blogger with Transepiscopal (http://blog.transepiscopal.com) notes that trans bloggers are also raising questions of spirituality and religion. Mycroft Masada Holmes (http://masadarts.blogspot.com), Chair of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition’s Interfaith Committee for Transgender Equality, adds that “Faith is not for everyone, at least not at every time in their lives. But no one should have to feel that they can’t be part of a supportive, communal spiritual practice because they’re trans.” The increased interest in spiritual topics among the trans community can be seen in the presence of the site TransFaith Online (http://www.transfaithonline.org) and the growth of the spiritual track for the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference (http://www.trans-health.org), the largest trans specific conference in the world.
In his blogging, Partridge brings together his Anglicanism and activism to address issues of interest to the trans community, By cross-posting to the pro-LGBT Walking with Integrity (http://walkingwithintegrity.blogspot.com) and Believe Out Loud (http://www.believeoutloud.com/learn/boltoday), Partridge seeks to speak to several audiences. Partridge says he tries not to be too jargony, but at the same time he doesn’t water down what he has to say too much, or simply stay at the level of a “trans 101.” For religious leaders like the Rev. David Weekley (http://shermanswildernesstoday.org), an out transgender Methodist Minister, online tools bring strength and a sense of community to his work. “Living in the Pacific Northwest I value the resourcing and support provided through internet communication tools. Being so distant from colleagues and activist groups can feel very isolating.”
The immediacy of the Internet makes it possible to garner social media support for injustices and threats facing trans people in countries like Uganda and Iran. In addition, the Internet can connect like-minded souls to commemorate an event such as the International Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Despite these global connections that can link trans people and allies, Holmes remind us that the remaining limitations are great. The community is constantly searching for ways to reach those who lack internet access or computer skills. Furthermore, while geo-location apps were the rage at the 2012 SXSW Interactive Festival, these applications could also leave trans people exposed, their location and gender revealed without their consent.