This post is part of Outward, Slate's home for coverage of LGBTQ life, thought, and culture. On Tuesday, Broadly, Vice's vertical covering women, gender non-conforming folks, and the LGBTQ community, published a stock photo library featuring more than 180 images of trans and non-binary models that, according to the site's announcement, "go beyond the clichés of putting on makeup and holding trans flags." It is the first database of its kind, and, while stock photos might seem like the stuff of goofy memes, it actually represents a historic step forward for queer representation in media. According to an October 2018 New York Times piece on transgender representation in stock imagery, there's been a recent surge of interest on the part of publishers and others in photos portraying transgender people. But the photos that customers most often chose either feature only white trans women or focus solely on people's cosmetic appearance and don't depict them outside the fact of their identity--if they depict them at all.
In a significant setback, the Trump administration rescinded federal guidelines that give transgender students the right to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity. According to the Washington Post, officials from the Department of Justice and the Department of Education told the U.S. Supreme Court to "disregard memos" on transgender student rights. The guidelines, first issued by the Obama administration, say that prohibiting transgender students from using facilities which match their gender violates federal anti-discrimination laws on the basis of sex. These have been withdrawn because officials say the term "sex" is open to legal interpretation. The letter to be sent to public schools gives the example of Texas, where a federal district court stated the term "sex" refers "unambiguously to biological sex."
Ellie Desautels' work on Rise is almost unprecedented. When the show debuts on NBC this week, Desautels, who uses the pronoun they, will become only the second nonbinary actor to appear on a prime-time network series, and their character, Michael, is one of just a handful of transmasculine teens in the history of TV. But throughout an hourlong conversation, Desautels was consistently determined to draw my attention to others, going out of their way to reference The Fosters' Tom Phelan, Shameless' Elliot Fletcher, The OA's Ian Alexander, and Ser Anzoategui, a lesser-known nonbinary actor who had messaged them on Instagram. "Hang on," they said as they scrolled through their DMs for the details on Anzoategui's Starz show, Vida. "Let's give this person some credit." Desautels was effusive about the people and things they admire--Jason Katims, the producer behind Rise, Parenthood, and Friday Night Lights; Aaron's storyline on The Fosters; Benedict Cumberbatch's acting chops--and sincerely emotional as they talked about the impact of representation on their own life.
This post is part of Outward, Slate's home for coverage of LGBTQ life, thought, and culture. "Next Thursday, I will get a vagina," Andrea Long Chu wrote in Sunday's New York Times. "This is what I want, but there is no guarantee it will make me happier." In her incendiary, angrily debated piece, Chu, a trans woman and incisive writer and thinker, uses her own profoundly painful experience of gender dysphoria and transition to contest the notion that transition-related medical care like surgery and hormone therapy should only be provided to people on the basis that it will make them "happier." Rather, Chu argues, the provision of such care should be based solely on the desire and bodily autonomy of the person in question.