transgender

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    Make-up Vlogger Nikkie de Jager, better known for her YouTube name NikkieTutorials, has come out as transgender in a 17 minute video posted on her channel. The Dutch beauty influencer has been uploading tutorials since 2008, and has since amassed 12.8 million subscribers on YouTube, 13.3 million followers on Instagram and 1.89 million on Twitter. She is considered one of the most followed Vloggers, alongside the likes of Jeffery Star, Tati Westbrook, and James Charles, and regularly collaborates with notable brands including Marc Jacobs and Maybelline.

    In the current number one trending video on the website, she beings, “Today I’m here to share something with you, that I’ve always wanted to share with you one day. But under my own circumstances.” Continuing to explain why it is that now is that time: Her decision to choose when and where to come out has “been taken away from her,” so she’s beating whoever she claims was blackmailing her to it. Although the circumstances aren’t fair, because for members of the LGBTQ community “coming out” is such a monumental moment and whatever person threatened to take that away from her shouldn’t be able to do so, Jager feels “free” with being able to share her story. For Jager, the timing thankfully aligned with her decision to go public, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that there was a chance she wasn’t and what could have happened had this video not have been posted.

    Nowadays, to many people, labels are a restrictive and outdated concept. Jager elaborates on this: “I am NikkieTutorials, and I am Nikkie. I am me. We don't need labels. But if we are going to put a label on it, yes, I am transgender. But at the end of the day, I am me. And at the end of the day, you are you.” Furthermore, she hopes that in sharing this side of her she will inspire others to follow and bring hope to those who feel out of place. Before Jager was born, her mother was convinced she would be having a girl- which she did- but would discover this almost “immediately” after Jager began growing up. By the age of six, she grew her hair; by seven she was dressing in girl’s clothes and would fully transition at the age of 19.

    Jager credits her mother for being there and being fully supportive of her. Remember, this would have been in the early 2000s, when another word, which will go unmentioned, was still being used instead of transgender. Yet, she recalls feeling accepted by teachers and some students, though some kids definitely didn’t understand. Ultimately her coming out message has been well-received online, with encouraging Tweets and the backing of several fans and other people in the industry. Kim Petras wrote, “I’m so happy n proud for @NikkieTutorials ur freee fkn beautiful n a fkn legend. that shit had me emotional.

    Read through some other responses below:

     

     

    With all the great memes and lovely messages, though, there are some that make this situation a little disheartening. As we all know, some YouTubers have had their share of drama and feuds. This week, it’s from Too Faced Comsmetics CEO’s sister and brand ambassador "Dani California", a.k.a makeupprincess, who changed her Instagram bio to “Transgender huh? That’s not the only thing she’s been LYING about.” She’s rightfully being dragged online and has been dropped from the company by her brother, but, it’s apparent that even though it’s 2020, not everyone is as accepting as they should be. 

     

     

    header image screenstill of NikkieTutorials via YouTube

     

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  • 1280px Halle Berry 35954743982 5ba2dOver the weekend, actress Halle Berry was under fire after having made some comments regarding playing the role of a transgender man. During an Instagram Live, Berry spoke with her hairstylist, Christin Brown, and said that she was preparing for the role of playing a transgender man, but was not yet a member of the cast.

    Throughout the Instagram Live which is now viewable via IGTV, Berry misgendered the transgender man she said she was considering playing multiple times and said that his story was a “female story.” Berry also stated that she was interested in the role because “who this woman was is so interesting to me.” It’s important to note that misgendering is an act of violence against trans people.

    One commenter on Christin Brown’s post stated, “Trans people are so very tired of cis actors taking up roles that so many trans people would give anything to play. Halle Berry, please reconsider this, especially given you’ve already misgendered your character from the jump. Your language is damaging. A woman doesn’t transition into a man. He is and always was a man. If you’re already not using the right terms from the jump you have no business playing this role.”

    Another said, “Please rethink this role. There are plenty of us trans actors who are more than capable of telling our stories, myself included. We fight tooth and nail for representation in Hollywood, and receive the least amount of it. Please let US tell OUR stories.”

    After the backlash, Berry posted an apology to her Twitter stating that she was no longer considering the role and said, “As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories.” She promises to be an ally for representation. It should be noted that Berry does not explicitly apologize for misgendering the transgender man she was thinking of playing.

    Berry’s statement was well-received by LGBTQ+ organization GLAAD who tweeted, “We are pleased that Halle Berry listened to the concerns of transgender people and learned from them.” GLAAD also shouted out the new Netflix documentary Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen which talks about trans representation in media. The account for the documentary also tweeted, “Thank you Halley Berry for listening and learning.”

    The Netflix documentary was directed and produced by trans man, Sam Feder, and offers insight into the transgender representation problem that the media seems to have. It features many trans actors such as Laverne Cox, Brian Michael Smith, Mj Rodriguez, and Elliot Fletcher. The documentary has gotten rave reviews from critics and is available to stream on Netflix.

    This story might be familiar as Scarlett Johannson also was up for considerationfor a transgender role but ended up rescinding her consideration after considerable backlash. This isn’t a problem that is unique to Berry, Hollywood has had a history of casting cis individuals to play trans characters such as Eddie Redmayne’s performance in The Danish Girl and Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club. Having a cis person play a transgender person reinforces the false idea that being transgender is a costume, as transgender actress, writer, director, producer, and activist Jen Richards explains in a video from 2017 about Matt Bomer playing a trans woman in the movie Anything. In the video, Richard states that “When Jared Leto gets up and accepts his award for playing a trans woman with a full beard, the world thinks, ‘Oh, okay, underneath it all, it’s still a man. Behind trans women, it’s really just a guy with good makeup and good hair, etc.’ And that’s true for those men who are playing these parts but it’s not true for actual trans women who live our life 24/7 as women and have always been women even before we transitioned.”

    There are plenty of talented trans actors that can play trans roles, and when cis people portray trans characters, not only are they reinforcing dangerous ideas about what it means to be trans, they are taking away opportunities from a marginalized group. The kind of ideas that cis people playing trans characters reinforces leads to violence against trans people, something we have seen far too much of this year, especially towards Black trans women.

    Having cis actors tell transgender stories also actively takes away work from transgender actors. There are many talented trans actors who haven’t had the opportunity to tell their own stories because Hollywood has given the roles to cis people instead, in order to make the characters and the story more palpable for a cis audience. We need to let transgender people tell their own stories. While there have been strides in recent years when it comes to representation, this is clearly a sign that we still have a lot more work to do when it comes to transgender actors and characters.

    It is good that Berry is stepping back and no longer considering taking the role but that is just one step. We must do better when it comes to transgender representation, and we must listen to and uplift transgender voices.

    Header image via Wikimedia Commons / Gage

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    At BUST, we’ve been loud about the importance of voting November 6—of flipping the House and Senate, of showing up for candidates who will support women and oppose fascism. But one specific ballot question that deserves a spotlight, especially given recent reports that the Trump administration is aiming to cut back on rights for the transgender community, is Massachusetts’ question three.

    If you haven’t heard already, question three marks a statewide vote on whether to keep in place a 2016 law that upholds protections for trans individuals. The legislation prohibits any kind of public discrimination against trans people, and allows them to use bathrooms that align with their gender.

    Unsurprisingly, the “No on 3” campaign is led by a transphobic organization, titled Keep Massachusetts Safe, that believes allowing trans individuals to use bathrooms, changing rooms, and locker rooms that align with their gender identity puts women and children in some kind of danger, The Guardian reports. The Guardian also notes that the anti-discrimination law currently in place did not lead to more criminal or unsafe incidents in bathrooms—but did prevent harassment and other acts of transphobia, as per a UCLA School of Law study.

    Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released a statement several weeks ago endorsing the anti-discrimination law in place. “In 2016, I signed An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination, outlawing discrimination on the basis of gender identity in all public accommodations. I am grateful to the hundreds of committed activists who worked tirelessly to advance this cause because it was the right thing to do,” he wrote in a Rainbow Times exclusive. “I look forward to voting ‘Yes’ on Question 3…I am confident that voters will join me, to re-affirm that the Commonwealth will not tolerate discrimination against our fellow citizens who are transgender.”

    Though Yes on 3 has widespread support across the state and even across party lines—a crowd of thousands took to Boston’s City Hall Plaza on Sunday to rally for the trans community, reports The Washington Post, and Baker himself is a Republican—there’s a lot at stake. According to Freedom for All Massachusetts, an organization fighting to keep the anti-discrimination law in place, 65% of transgender individuals in the state reported public discrimination in a year leading up to the law’s implementation. It’s a real fear that, without protections, the trans community will face even worse maltreatment today from Trump and those emboldened by his rhetoric, particularly given The New York Timesrecent report that the present administration is looking to alter legal ideas of gender and “eradicate federal recognition of the estimated 1.4 million Americans who have opted to recognize themselves—surgically or otherwise—as a gender other than the one they were born into,” the Times wrote.

    Massachusetts is a state that has always been at the forefront of supporting LGBTQ+ rights, and there’s something scary about what it means that even such a liberal state could be facing any kind of push to repeal anti-discrimination policies at all. As author and trans advocate Mimi Lemay told the Human Rights Campaign’s magazine Equality, “Hate groups across the U.S. see the ballot measure in Massachusetts as a potential catalyst that will help them strip rights from LGBTQ people nationwide. If Massachusetts, one of the most progressive states in the union, falls, what happens to the rest of the country?”

    To learn more about question three, Yes on 3, and how to protect trans rights in Massachusetts, check out Freedom for All MA’s website. Support for keeping the law in place is pretty high—the most recent numbers state that only 28% of voters want to repeal the legislation, with 68% trying to uphold it, as the Post wrote—but your vote still matters. It’s important for us to keep protections in place for the transgender community, but it’s just as important to send a message that transphobia and discrimination won’t be tolerated in Massachusetts—or anywhere in America. 

    Top photo via Wikimedia Commons / Laurel Wreath of Victors

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    We're bringing you this Q&A from BUST's print magazine's Sex Files, featuring advice from sexologist Dr. Carol Queen.

    The FX showPose taught me a lot about the sex lives of trans people and raised a few questions for me. For example, what are the rules of etiquette for engaging sexually with a pre-op or non-op trans person for the first time? What is the right way to ask delicate questions about gender and genitals while getting physical? –Category Is…Curious

    It’s true that some trans people aren’t comfortable with their genitals in a sexual context if they haven’t undergone gender confirmation processes; for that matter, they may not be comfortable with them in a nonsexual context either. Genitals are highly gendered in our society, historically definitive of gender, in fact. Some people aren’t able to get past the idea that a penis doesn’t automatically equal a man or a vulva/vagina a woman, even if those parts are attached to a person who identifies and/or presents otherwise. For some folks, their genitals don’t match their self-perception, their inner identity, or their body as they understand it, and that can make it difficult to get intimate. 

    However, there are also trans people for whom this is a much less cumbersome issue. Some are perfectly fine with their pleasure parts, and enjoy sex with all the nerve endings they have. 

    The basic rule of etiquette is: Don’t assume. Don’t assume you know what that hottie has in their pants; that they welcome your curiosity about the fascinating world of under-their-pants; that they welcome your sexual interest in the first place. Don’t assume you know what to call whatever parts they have. Don’t assume you know what role or activity they’ll want to engage in if they do want to get sexy with you. Don’t exoticize their nether parts or act uncomfortable about them (or worse). In fact, you shouldn’t be assuming all that about cis people, either. 

    That said, it doesn’t have to be such a challenge to get comfortable with a prospective lover who’s trans or gender non-binary. Here are some examples of what you could ask before getting down. “What do you like to do, sexually? Do you have any parts of your body you don’t like to have touched? What parts do you love having touched? How do you want me to refer to your genitals? If I start to do something you don’t enjoy, will you please tell me so I can try something you like better?” Don’t act like the person has arrived from another planet so you can explore their mystery. This is a human who has sensitive nerve endings that they probably like to have stimulated, just like everybody else.

    Carol Queen's latest book (written with Shar Rednour) is The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone.

    Got a sex or relationship question you need answered? Submit it here.

    This article originally appeared in the October/November 2018 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

    Top photo: JayMantri/Pixabay

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