The media has a lot of power. It has the power to alienate, disappoint and degrade people. However, it also has the power to motivate, connect and inspire. In times of urgency, people turn to the internet, to the news or to TV shows in order to reconnect in some way with people around them. The media is a platform that can be used to set precedents for unchartered territory. It can be the deciding factor on where the majority of people around the world stand on political, social or any other sort of major topic. What people read or see on a screen can dictate how they feel about certain issues that take over daily conversations. It can be the reason why members of minority groups, the LGBTQ+ community in particular, feel accepted or not in our society.
According to a recent Bark survey, 26 percent of students self-reported that they believe the LGBTQ+ community is being represented in the media accurately, and 34 percent think that there is not enough representation to being with.
Junior Layla Isherwood, who identifies as bisexual, has noticed a recent shift in the way that the LGBTQ+ community has been represented in the media. Lately, she has noticed that movies have been released, such as the romantic comedy “Love, Simon,” based on the novel “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli, that have LGBTQ+ persons as main characters of the movie who have happy storylines and happy endings. These narratives are replacing LGBTQ+ movies whose stories revolve around the tragedies or the struggles associated with being apart of the gay community.
Sophomore Natalie Pemberton, who is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community and vice president of the Sexuality And Gender Alliance (SAGA) club, has identified a similar shift in the way the LGBTQ+ community has been represented in the media.
“LGBTQ+ characters are represented more as people than they used to be. It used to be more stereotypical. For example, in [the TV show] Glee, their main gay character was very much a stereotype. It’s okay to have stereotypes represented, but that was kind of the only representation we saw in the media,” Pemberton said. “It’s nice to be able to see characters that are more like real people.”
According to McConnell, this phenomenon has become bigger than its manifestation on social media, as the “tucutes” are going to medical centers and requesting hormone therapy or surgery which they end up later regretting because they never felt the gender or social dysphoria that someone who is truly trans will naturally feel. McConnell said that because of this, people who do have gender dysphoria and wish to take those same hormones or have the surgery have less access to these resources as “tucutes” have already used some of them. This issue has also made its way back to medical professionals, according to McConnell, causing them to question whether or not they should be administering hormones or surgeries to trans people.