Photo: BEImages/Gregory Pace.
Subcultures don't remain "sub" for very long in a world that's getting progressively more connected by the hour. There's a new level of transparency in terms of alternative lifestyles and the experience surrounding them. The Gay Experience, for example, has gone from being a no-no to HBO with Looking. Movies like Weekend and Keep The Lights On won critical acclaim in the indie-sphere with the help of Brokeback Mountain's wide success.
Though still a minority, the LGBTQ community is swiftly moving away from the periphery and into our direct line of sight. Now the gay and lesbian community has been at the forefront of the equal rights movement, but the trans* community is closely trailing behind. Trans* culture has entered the cultural conversation within the past year — and not in an ostracizing way. Rather, the trans* community has a voice in popular culture that's only getting louder with the likes of Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, and Carmen Carrera.
The New York Times recently published a fabulous article introducing the leaders and faces of the conversation. Using the prominent feature of Rhys Ernst and Zackary Drucker's emotional Whitney Biennial photo essay documenting their relationship as both underwent sex reassignment surgery, Jacob Bernstein discusses the growing conversation surrounding the trans* experience. He does a brilliant job summarizing the importance and role each individual featured plays in humanizing the often misunderstood and negatively targeted population.
This is only the beginning, too. As more and more trans* people gain exposure, the importance of how we address and talk about the population is vital. Mock, Cox, and Carrera have started the conversation, and it's our duty to honor one's identity. It's a convoluted and evolving vernacular to become fluent in, but one necessary to properly and, more importantly, humanely engage a dialogue in. Education, at this point, is key. Mock stresses the importance of simply asking how one wishes to be identified, and Cox has made clear the negative effects of "othering" a trans* individual by focusing on their genitals. It's overwhelming, yes, but necessary. Luckily, we've found a great place to start. Begin here. (The New York Times)