This book is an exploration of both mainstream and independent media. Grounded in qualitative methods, this book explores three trans masculine run YouTube channels alongside the streaming productions: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Orange is the New Black, and Transparent. Analyzing and contrasting these narratives illuminates how even the most progressive of pop culture productions fail to present multi-dimensional transgender narratives, thereby intensifying stigma and shame for those outside of the binary (male or female, man or woman, gay or straight). In contrast, trans masculine produced YouTube vlogs, such as those discussed in this book, can help audience members unlearn the ways in which the continuum of sex, gender, and sexual orientation has been simplified and obscured through corporate media. These vlogs thus exemplify the various ways in which independent media acts as an educational tool toward greater awareness, and perhaps empathy, of/for the self and others in regards to sexual identity.
Stevie N. Berberick is assistant professor of communication arts and gender and women’s studies at Washington and Jefferson College.
1: Trans In/visibilities: Theory, Media, Praxis, and Pedagogy
2: Hybrid Methodology: Research Beyond the Binary
3: Reframing Sex: Bodies in Motion
4: Vlogs on Loving: Dispossessed and Reimagined Intimacies
Concluding the Channel
Berberick offers us a unique view through a nonbinary lens and invites us to reread the media we consume, whether mainstream or independently produced. Written with great thought and care, they center the complex narratives of everyday trans masculine lived experiences, including the most intimate and vulnerable of topics, that are ignored by mainstream media and instead must reside in online media spaces trans people harness for storytelling and worldmaking. Let us hope that mainstream media, especially in its role as cultural pedagogue, will heed Berberick’s call for increased representation of more nuanced characters whose genders span the continuum and in whom trans and nonbinary viewers can see themselves.
Educators and researchers will find this critically reflective book a valuable analysis for gender and sexuality studies, cultural studies, the visual arts, and teaching. In the current climate we are facing with high demand on our virtual worlds which we have been forced to inhabit more rigorously through our teaching, research, and visual culture production and consumption in today’s society, this study outlines necessary arguments to foreground the often underrepresented populations that exist. Reframing Sex offers an indispensable hybrid methodology for virtual ethnography in a digital age; a poignant model for educators and researchers. As an art educator, I help prepare the next generation of teachers to navigate their role within public institutions as they train a new generation. Reframing Sex offers a language, for unlearning and decolonizing systemic modes of oppression in relation to sex, gender, and identities. Reframing Sex is a unique study which showcases the transformative power in how static gender binaries are coming undone and trans-activism is changing the landscape for virtual users and visual culture impacting the way we work within academic and do political work on a large spectrum. In transforming the language that we use to engage with complex conversations and realities that are intentionally being reframed in this book to serve healing and reimagining as a critical pedagogical points.