I was involved in a post on Panels recently that talked about imperfect vs no representation. It was especially interesting because we had opinions from a variety of different writers. My contribution was of course a little different because I come from a different background and have a different perspective:
Marcy Cook – transgender bisexual woman, white European/Canadian
Western media’s default setting is white, male and heterosexual. I never realised just how represented that demographic was until it no longer applied to me. Many people don’t fit that narrow target, LGBTQ people in particular are hugely under-represented and it’s even worse for LGBTQ people of colour. Representation matters but what really makes a difference is positive representation. As a trans woman I don’t get to see myself positively represented anywhere; for example, TV has treated me like a comedic punching bag for decades and in Hollywood I’m a tragic character that screams awards bait. This is the reality of transgender representation in mainstream media and comics fare no better. Trans characters in comics are usually a single background character, a surprise twist or joke, or they’re killed off fast and we’re told we should be happy about having any representation at all.
No, when you have almost no representation at all, no voice at the table, you need positive representation first. You need to build up the goodwill and increase the number of characters from marginalized groups, so not just one or two characters are shouldering the representation of whole segments of society. Those first characters have to be positive heroes, before making marginalized people villains. Over the years imperfect representation has killed many trans people, both directly and indirectly. Marginalised sections of society cling to any positive representation we get because it’s so rare. It shouldn’t be this way anymore, we could change this now; hey publishing houses – hire some trans writers.
To read all the contributions head over here (http://panels.net/2015/04/27/on-imperfect-representation-vs-no-representation/). re