When Andreja Pejic decided to announce she was transgender I was, yet again, depressed at the poor way the media handled it. It was ignorant from both a trans perspective and a feminist perspective – this not exactly going to come as a shock to anyone who follows the way the media presents transgender people, particularly transgender women. Transgender men are invisible, and that’s annoying in a whole other way.
Let’s take a look at the Style ‘exclusive’ post, ‘Andreja Pejic Is in Her Own Skin for the Very First Time’. Hold on, what? I’m pretty sure she’s had skin this whole time. She has, I just checked, perhaps that’s not what they meant, so let’s move on. The interview says that she knew she was trans from before puberty, at 13, so she’s always been ‘in her own skin’.
What this headline does is instantly place the focus on her body, and that approach doesn’t change. It happens over and over in the many pieces I read. This ‘exclusive’ Style interview should be about her coming out as trans, and what that means to her, you’d certainly expect that to be the focus of the piece, right? It seems not, in fact you don’t even need to read the article at all, look at the URL – http://www.style.com/stylefile/2014/07/andreja-pejic-sexual-reassignment-surgery/.
I thought we were starting to get past the ‘what’s in your pants?’ question that journalists throw at all trans people. No-one seems to have told Style though. The start of paragraph two reads “Earlier this year, Andreja underwent sex reassignment surgery (SRS).” Style, that’s not important. At all. Only around 25% of people under the trans-umbrella opt to go through SRS, and even if they do it is totally their business, not anyone else’s.
OK, this is a fashion post, they might not be the most educated of journalists in regards to transgender issues, so let’s take a look at Queerty. This a website with a gay focus but covers transgender news too. ‘Model Andreja Pejic Comes Out Of The Trans Closet, Looks Damn Good Doing It’.
Damn it Queerty, you blew it on the headline. What has her looks got to do with her ‘coming out of the closet’? This is just enforcing the concept that women have to be pretty to be worthwhile, and if you’re not pretty when you are out as a transgender women then you are worth less than nothing. So very wrong.
The first line reads “Transitioning from male to female has got to be a bit easier if you’re a drop-dead gorgeous woman”, they wrote this as though to excuse the headline. They knew what they were doing sucked and they used the first like of the article to try and mitigate it. You know what would have been better Queerty, not fucking objectifying her to begin with.
Also, pro-internet-tip, don’t read the Queerty comments on trans articles, the hate spewed toward trans people is terrifying; the comments on the Style post are generally much nicer than those I found on Queerty.
I think you can take a snapshot of the media from Andreja Pejic announcing she was transgender. Have we as trans people mode progress? Yes, kind of, it’s progress in the style of two steps forward, one back, and another to the side. 2014 is a red letter year for transgender awareness, but we’re not there yet. Not even close in fact. Let’s keep pushing.
We need to keep correcting the media. It’s not about how we look, or what’s between our legs, it’s all about who we are, and what’s in our minds. It’s about us getting treated humanely, having the same human rights as others in society.
Oh and Style, and every other media outlet, the only person that gets to know what’s between my legs is my partner.
Others have covered this Andreja Pejic and the various implications of how the media have treated her, and done so well, so I’m not going to cover all aspects of this in depth. Instead for another angle see Parker’s piece over here – http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/26/trans-celebs-are-great-trans-leaders-are-better.html.
“It is only when the trans conversation extends beyond Hollywood and celebrity and begins focusing on the all-too-common atrocities many trans individuals face daily that we’ll be able to achieve anything even remotely resembling equality.”
Images via Glaad.