Thursday, October 29, 2009

Seventeen Magazine: Linking Transgendered to the Perverse

In the October issue of Seventeen Magazine, one of the cover stories portrays transgendered individuals very negatively. Although Seventeen is not necessarily known for positively representing the queer community, the way this article is edited is especially upsetting

In this article, Sheri shares the story of her first love in which she found out that her boyfriend “Derek” was actually a biological female. The story as told by her is somewhat neutral. While she does explain that she was upset when she found out she had been lied to for their entire relationship (and who wouldn’t be initially upset?), she does say that if he had just told her the truth, she would have stayed with him.

The way that the story was edited, however, both misrepresents and degrades the transgendered community. First, on the cover of the magazine, the headline reads “True Life Drama: ‘My Boyfriend Turned Out to Be a GIRL!” Although this Derek may be biologically female, this does not make him a girl. In the actual article, Sheri explains that Derek identifies as a man. By labeling in this way, Seventeen ignores the fact that gender is different from sex.

Also, at the bottom of the article, Seventeen provided other instances of “Total Betrayal.” These experiences include a “pervert” and a “druggie.” The way the article and this blurb are set up together, it is evident that Seventeen is relating transgendered individuals with these negative concepts.

In dramatizing this story in a way that gives transgendered people a negative depiction, Seventeen changes the meaning of this individual’s story. Rather than emphasize the unequal and unfair lives of a transgendered person, Seventeen adds to the hurt that this community undergoes on a daily basis. Also, since the audience of Seventeen is young women, stories like this negatively influence the way the readers will perceive transgendered people.

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