Disclaimer: I have no problem with the men who were featured in the BuzzFeed article in question. Let’s not get it twisted, okay? Also, these opinions are my own, not the transgender community as a whole.
Representation in the media is very important for transgender folks like myself. Media can show the world that we are just like them — human beings. Granted, each person is unique in their own way but we are still essentially human beings that deserve the same rights and privileges as any cisgender person. And that is the message transmen, who are out and proud, want to send to the world and do whatever it takes to make it known. We should strive to, however, not just use ANY outlet for exposure and settle for scraps.
While representation and media coverage can be powerful tools for social change, it can also be detrimental and only giving way to a certain kind of representation: hypermasculine, muscular, post-top surgery and conventionally attractive transmen. It basically gives the notion to fellow brothers in our community that we are only considered real men if we succumb ourselves to toxic masculinity and police others to do the same. Which is no good because feminine and nonbinary transmen exist; they are and should be considered men in the eyes of everyone else and not feel pressured to be someone they are not.
I bring all this up because there was a BuzzFeed article published by a transgender woman called “26 Transguys Who Will Make You Thirsty”. The drama surrounding the article notwithstanding, the title itself is significantly problematic because I’d like to think that we are more than our bodies; we are not here to be anyone’s fetish. There’s simply no excuse for such a title. There are numerous alternatives that this author could have used instead — like how FTM Magazine has named their recent article “16 Trans Men Who Don’t Own A Shirt” for example.
They even had a paragraph at the end talking about getting permission, by the way. The title is simple, to the point and not objectifying anyone in any way, shape or form. We have lives, careers and interests that go beyond the physical realm. There’s no reason, in this day and age, to have articles where we are on display and used for shock value. It is not a compliment hearing people say “Oh, I never would have guessed this person was born female!”.
I’m all for the “Trans Is Beautiful” movement because we are beautiful souls but I don’t want to settle for any kind of representation just to have us out there. There should not be just one socially acceptable kind of transgender person. We are not here for society’s comfort. We are not here to subscribe to society’s outdated gender roles. We are here to be free and have the chance to be our authentic selves. We aren’t transitioning to be what everyone else wants us to be.
To my fellow transgender brothers and sisters: if no one has told you this yet, let me be the one to say that you are beautiful, you are loved and that your feelings are valid. You are enough.