I’m working on my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. The class I’m taking this semester is Digital Cultures. As part of my class work, I will be blogging for the rest of the semester about a particular subset of Digital Culture; Transgender people.
I’ve seen a lot of change in how transgender people find each other and communicate over my lifetime. The very first time I ever met another trans person, my college counselor had set up an appointment with another counselor’s patient so that I could meet her. I was terrified. The meeting didn’t go all that well in the office, but I remember talking to her in the parking lot for a couple of hours afterwards. We compared common experiences, albeit from differing perspectives since she was a woman and I a man. It was a rare networking event that only happened through professionals.
Later, I found a print newsletter that connected trans men together – at least for news. I lived too far away to be part of the community meetings they announced. It was a bi-monthly publication that afforded some feeling of not being alone in the universe.
The rise of the internet allowed for better connection, more interactive connection, with others. In the early 1990’s, there were email lists that one could subscribe to. Finally, there was a way to get near instant communication with others across the country; with some anonymity. The guys on my list serve talked about everything from how they were feeling and coping; which doctors were helpful; which surgeons were the best; relationships; and how to handle all of the tough situations many of us encountered on a regular basis. I had started my own medical care before I ever met another trans man in person. I went on a work trip to Boston and was able to drop in on some of the other guys from the email list when they had a support meeting. I never would have met them without that email list. Then, I met other men in the city I lived in, through the email list.
With the rise of social media, trans people have been able to connect in many ways – Twitter; Facebook groups for men, women, older, younger, parents of trans children; and YouTube, where trans folks have documented their transitions, or run channels to discuss trans life.
Where trans folks were once a subculture, perhaps a subculture within a subculture, there has been a cultural shift online that has created the ability to find other trans folks. Networking is now possible in different ways than before. The digital culture has created some real world change for trans people. On a plus side, trans folks have been able to organize and get better health care. On the minus side, we are all now more visible to the public and have become the latest political scapegoats.
However, today is Valentine’s Day; and I want to be positive. Trans people are able to humanize their lives as part of our digital culture. There is a hashtag trending on social media today: #TransLoveStories.
Many trans folks feel like they are damaged and will never find love, but that is not the truth. There are many relationships and many ways that trans folks find love.
Two Trans people in love with each other!
Then there is family love.
Grandmothers Know Best! (The link is direct to a tweet with a great video.)
I can’t beat the smiles of this father and daughter. We are human and we love, fiercely. Happy Valentine’s Day!