Transgender Visibility: A Critical Discourse Analysis on Representation in Written Media
Vliet, V.V.D.C. van
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Transvisibility is a highly contested subject. Research has shown that representation of trans people/topics has increased in the last decades, but violence and discrimination against trans people is still a big issue in society. Transgender people in the Netherlands are seven times more likely to face abuse (or be threatened by it) compared to people that are cisgender. This study aims to analyze trans representation in Dutch media, the impact this representation has on trans visibility; and the gains and losses of visibility achieved through mainstream media representation. Through the theoretical framework on representation and trans visibility, I conducted a critical discourse analysis on trans representation. By using the articles that were coded in the Transgender Netwerk Nederland media monitor report of 2019, I analyzed what discursive formations and stereotypes were present; in order to understand the power/ knowledge dynamic surrounding the media coverage of trans people in the Netherlands. Analysis of the articles demonstrates that issues of homonormativity and transnormativity were present. These issues presented themselves through simplistic story lines, hypervisibility of trans women, a dominant representation of gender as binary and narratives that use transgender emancipation to further nationalistic and xenophobic sentiments. However, there is a surge in storylines that are classified as layered, which depicts a more authentic picture of trans lives. The results illustrate that trans visibility in the Netherlands is not a straightforward tool towards emancipation. In most cases, trans representation in 2019 is presented in normative discourses. However, most articles have a positive sentiment when representing trans people. The surge of a layered story line could have a positive impact; by illustrating a more authentic depiction of trans lives that move away from hegemonic normativities.