4.16: Representing Trans Identities

Transgender refers to "people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth" (GLADD Media Reference Guide: Transgender, para. 5).

The number of transgender people in the U.S. has grown to 1.6 million -- 43% of whom are young adults or teenagers, according to C.D.C. health surveys conducted between 2017 and 2020 (UCLA School of Law Williams Institute, June 2022).

Nearly 2% of high school students in the U.S. identify as transgender, and more than one-third of them attempt suicide (The Washington Post, January 24, 2019). Discrimination based on gender identity is prohibited in schools, yet many LGBTQ+ students face bullying, harassment, and feel unsafe in classrooms and corridors (Education in a Pandemic, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, 2021).

What role does the media play in influencing how transgender students are treated by others? 

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If you were (or are) a part of a minority group or stigmatized community, would you want a more realistic representation of your group in the media that could victimize your group or an idealistic representation that could present a new reality for your group? Do media producers have a responsibility to make sure that their portrayals of marginalized groups are accurate?

In the following activities, you will analyze transgender representation in television and movies and then create a transgender character who accurately reflects the realities of gender identity and gender expression in today's society.

Activity 1: Analyze Transgender Representation in TV and Movies

Designing for Learning: Student-Created Activity Example

Analyze Transgender Representation in TV or Movies by Mitchell Regan

Activity 2: Create a Transgender Character for TV or Movies

Designing for Learning: Student-Created Activity Example

Create a Transgender Character for TV or Movies by Mitchell Regan

Additional Resources

Connecting to the Building Democracy for All eBook

Building Democracy for All: What are Transgender Students' Rights at School?

Connecting to the Standards

  • Massachusetts Civics & Government Standards
    • Analyze issues involving liberty in conflict with equality or authority, individual rights in conflict with the common good, or majority rule in conflict with minority rights. (Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for History and Social Studies) [8.T4.10]
  • ISTE Standards
    • Knowledge Constructor
      • 3a: Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.
      • 3b: Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data or other resources.
    • Creative Communicator
      • 6a: Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
      • 6b: Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
      • 6d: Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for the intended audiences.
  • DLCS Standards
    • Interpersonal and Societal Impact (CAS.c)
    • Collaboration and Communication (DTC.b)
    • Research (DTC.c)
  • English Language Arts > History/Social Studies Common Core Standards
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.5
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.6
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.6
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.7
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