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Date of Award

Spring 2017


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Document Type

Thesis: EWU Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Communications


Communication Studies


Transgender (or trans) voices have not been widely explored in media studies literature. This qualitative work seeks to add to emerging body of transgender media studies by examining via trans participants two recent programs broadcast in US television that feature trans characters and content. The participants offered transcentric feedback to media examples that highlighted the unique perspectives of trans people and provided insight into how media narratives affect their populations. The participants identified themes within the media texts that they found disturbing and inauthentic of the trans experience, such as projecting cisgender values on trans people, highlighting feminine behavior in ways to draw attention, promoting difference via othering, promoting transphobic violence, and emphasizing the trope of the trans person as a tragic figure. The study participants felt that cisgendered people were making media based on cisgendered values not trans values or experiences. As a transwoman, I know well the stigma that marginalized groups face when confronted with those negative narratives. I’m personally aware that these narratives can harm people and believe the consequences of those representations are important to recognize and give voice to within media studies.

This work is a contribution to the emerging study of trans representations that will allow media producers and others to understand and recognize the unique experiences of trans people. In a time when diversity of representation and inclusion is increasingly valued (Grunig, Toth, Hon, 2000; Marinucci, 2016; McLoughlin, Oliver 2000) works such as this study provide an opportunity for trans populations to express their authentic experiences and reactions to representations instead of relying on sensationalism and stereotypic tropes to speak for them.