There was no one in the media I could look up to. This was before the internet was readily available, and Google didn’t exist. The only time I heard anything about trans people was through gossip or daytime television — shows where the audience would try to guess who was a man or a woman, as if our lives were a Barnum and Bailey sideshow.
Often, we’re left to be caricatures for a punchline. Even using today’s lens of what is deemed appropriate, Dayton’s own golden child of Hollywood, Dave Chapelle, uses us as a joke. On one hand he passionately talks about Black Lives Matter, but excludes queer people of color and specifically, trans women of color in that conversation.
Meanwhile people like Amy Schneider, Dayton’s local Jeopardy winner, gets trolled and threatened in the comment sections of articles about her win. Ohio trans actress, Trace Lysette, receives barely any recognition for her breakout roles on “Transparent” or “Hustlers.” Cis heterosexuals receive awards playing us, then wonder why society thinks we’re playing dress up, while giving validation to the idea it’s a choice. J.K. Rowling demonizes us in the media. Politicians like Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis use our discrimination as a base to their political platforms. All the while the increasing number of our violent deaths fall on deaf ears.
Representation matters because every year some kid is bullied into suicide. Every year a kid discovers their first bully is in their own family. Every year a kid is made to feel less than, and maybe this year, it’s a kid you know. It shouldn’t be considered a radical form of protest every time I walk out my door into the world. Yet here we are, 27 years later, and so little has changed for kids like me — and that’s why representation matters.
Jasmine Miller is the owner of Salon On Second in Dayton.