Zines Explore Transgender Culture Beyond Stereotypes

AlterNet.org – By Maya Schenwar, Punk Planet. Posted December 19, 2006.

How increasingly popular transgender zines are creating community and building diversity in ways that the Internet and the big screen can’t.

There’s the Oscar-nominated hit, TransAmerica. There’s the new book Self-Made Man, in which author Norah Vincent tries on maleness for a year and a half. And even the often-less-than-risk-taking The L Word featured a transgender character this season. Trans issues have hit the big time. However, despite mainstream media’s slowly increasing interest in — and occasional thoughtful exploration of — trans issues, many big-time portrayals don’t get past stereotypes and jokes. (Take, for example, TBS’s reality TV show, He’s a Lady, in which super-macho guys dress in heels for a day to get the true “female experience.”)

Fortunately, another rapidly growing sector of the media is stepping up to broaden and complicate the picture: print zines. A huge range of publications are devoted to trans issues, each of which may include editorials, poetry, art, fiction, interviews, even musical compositions. Trans-focused zines have been steadily multiplying in recent years.