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J. Skyler

A Transgender Superhero For Every Gender Non-Conforming Child: Thoughts On Acceptance And Support For Transgender Youth

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In the wake of Leelah Alcorn’s suicide in December 2014, people have been formulating ideas for how to fulfill her final wishes to “fix society”; to have her death “mean something” and to have it “counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide”. In her suicide note, Alcorn, age 17, explained that her reasons for committing suicide centered on her parent’s inability to accept her gender, and beyond that, imposing upon her religiously sanctioned conversion therapy designed to make her conform to cisnormativity.

In this essay I want to discuss some of the steps necessary to achieving acceptance, and most especially the ways in which the media can address misconceptions and provide transgender and gender non-conforming kids with a diverse range of stories. Please note that this essay contains language that may be triggering to people with depression and suicidal tendencies.

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Batgirl And The Perpetual State Of Transphobia In Media

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In my online discussions of transgender representation in media, I’ve mentioned that I expect a degree of transphobia is every medium I read, watch or listen to. That’s simply how pervasive the problem is -- and it may take the form of a joke, an off-the-cuff remark, or a non-essential character created intentionally or unintentionally to perpetuate stereotypes about gender variance or utilizing gender variance to underline said character’s psychosis.

It’s with a heavy heart I’m forced to discuss this long-standing media trope within the context of Batgirl, the one area of geek life I considered to be a safe-zone. Within the pages of Batgirl #37 we come across an impostor posing as Batgirl who ultimately plans to kill her in order to assume her identity. As you might imagine, my eyes nearly rolled into the back of my head, accompanied by an aggravated sigh, when the would-be murderer was revealed to be an individual assigned male at birth.

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