How Social Media Is Aiding In The Expression Of Gender Identity
The ubiquity of social media platforms have given people the opportunity to be more open and honest than ever before, and some have decided to use this to their advantage in the form of further expressing their identities.
The likes of Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have given people the power to show others exactly how they want to be portrayed.
Nowadays, if you want to check people out before planning that first date, you would probably check out their Facebook or Instagram pages to get a good idea of what they're like.
Social media has become the ultimate tool for finding out what someone is like, besides actually meeting and talking to him or her in real life.
Social media has become a great open forum, allowing us to express our individualities.
Earlier this week, bodybuilder and former marine Janae Marie Kroc — once known as Matt "Kroc" Kroczaleski — came out as both transgender and gender fluid on Instagram, meaning she chooses to live her life as both a male and a female. She stated that she refers to herself as “an alpha male and a girly girl.”
She received a lot of media attention due to this, most of it supportive and welcoming. But, why announce on Instagram?
Is the modern way of expressing gender identity through social media?
The "snapshot" aesthetic of Instagram allows us to have an on-the-fly (or even a posed) look at users we might not have otherwise seen, offering us an exclusive insight into their daily lives and routine.
In a 2014 study on social media and gender identity, researcher Debjani Roy concluded that members of the LGBT community “created new, non-heterosexual spaces where identity is not determined by an individual’s past” on the Internet.
This, perhaps, gave people more openness and freedom, as it was a new part of their lives.
It wasn't necessarily reflected on by who knew them or what they did in their pasts.
In discussing Janae, she is a regular member of the Instagram community.
She uses the network as a way to show off glamorous looks and outfits, and she is constantly receiving positive comments and "likes."
Most of Janae's followers probably don’t know her in real life. Therefore, this supports Roy’s comments that social media allows for a new, open space where identity isn’t defined by its past.
Her followers have already welcomed her, and she doesn’t feel the need to prove or explain herself to people on a daily basis. They just accept her for who she is.
Social media has a protective veil that the real world doesn't always have. These platforms give us multiple opportunities, in many different ways, to display ourselves however we want to.
For some people, this may be an escape from realism, and it may be the only platform they have to be themselves.
For example, a transgender person may be able to take a photo of him- or herself in a dress and post it on his or her Instagram, yet he or she may not feel able to put on the same dress and walk down the street.
Social media allows all people, regardless of orientation, race or gender, an opportunity to express their own unique selves in whatever way they are most comfortable.
Roy also stated that “media content acts as an extremely powerful source of social meaning and its representations of gender today are more complex than in the past.”
Social media can change people’s views and expectations of different communities around the world.
It's important to be able to express yourself, whether that's on Facebook, Instagram or even in real life, blaring your life story out in the middle of the street with a megaphone.
Find at least one platform where you can use your voice. It's important to be seen and heard, but it's also incredibly important to be you.