I can’t believe it’s been less than two years since I posted my first article on Medium, about growing up without gendered pronouns. I remember feeling excited about publishing a story that didn’t conform to any established ways that a piece of writing is supposed to be written — and Medium was the best place to publish it, because being trans is kind of like its life equivalent. Being trans is about looking at what’s out there, not being satisfied, and trying to address it on your own terms.
I’ve written many other stories since, but it was that first piece on Medium that paved the way for my professional writing career. A year ago, I was an obscure academic, spending most of my days in the library; today I work at Buzzfeed as a staff writer, their first openly transgender full-time employee. Nonetheless, I keep coming back to Medium to express ideas that are important to me, but I can’t find a place for.
When The New York Times refused to let any trans women write about Caitlyn Jenner, I was frustrated — so I published my rejected op-ed here, along with an open letter on behalf of a number of trans women, which more than 500 people signed. (The New York Times never responded, but they recently hired a trans woman to write about Jenner.) And I’m not the only one. A few months ago, a trans woman, Zip, was booted from Facebook due to its real-name policy, even though she used to work there using the same name— she also wrote about it here.
Being trans means confronting the way things work, and I believe that Medium is the best place to do that. Here are the reasons why:
You can use any name you want
To me, Facebook feels more and more like a necessary evil, while Medium feels like a relief. It’s true that I reach people on Facebook because lots of them are there, but I also know I’m excluding and marginalizing trans people who’ve been banned just because they don’t happen to fit Facebook’s arbitrary real-name standards. I can’t reiterate this enough: practically every trans person who’s made any tangible move towards transition has at some point been in violation of FB’s real-name policy. I’ve had at least one close trans friend get banned from the site for not using her “real” name — maybe you have, too? More than this, every single openly trans person in my native Philippines is technically in violation, because trans people can’t legally change our names there, so we either have to use a “fake” name in FB’s eyes or use birth-assigned names that don’t reflect our gender. While people argue that FB isn’t enforcing the policy, it’s still a huge psychological threat.
You can join Medium with any email address, or through a Twitter or Facebook account.
They take their harassment policy seriously
Medium has been an anti-harassment space from the beginning. It hasn’t had to backtrack, like Reddit, to discourage online harassment, and it continues to get better. It’s up to you whether you want to publish notes written by others in the margins of your posts. You’ll get notified when someone responds to your post, but if you don’t recommend it, it’ll be partially buried.
As someone who has received the most vile and hateful comments on the Internet, this is a huge relief. This makes writing on Medium the most stress-free environment for me as a trans person online.
Further, you can block any other user with one click on their profile page. They won’t be able to read or interact with your posts, and you won’t see anything of theirs. You won’t run into them on Medium again.
Medium Is Social
Medium’s developed a vibrant social network: you can follow people, brands, and publications; recommend and highlight stories you like, and have meaningful conversations with authors through Medium’s response mechanism. I’ve connected with amazing people like Saul of Hearts, Robin Marantz Henig, and Morgan Jerkins through their writing on Medium. There aren’t trans people on this list, but I’m hoping that changes next week, when we launch We the T!, a trans series on Medium.
A collaboration between Matter and Gender 2.0, We the T! involves trans people in every stage of the editorial process. Unlike other mainstream media outlets, we’ve worked with trans writers and artists from the idea phase of each story to its final execution. I hope that my trans siblings can join me in our continued exploration on our own terms, both in living and in writing.
Here’s what you can do to join the trans community on Medium:
- Follow Gender 2.0. I started this publication to cultivate conversations around topics of interest to the trans community. You’ll receive updates when new articles get published.
- Follow the transgender tag and check out the related tags suggested on that page. This’ll help customize your feed.
- Write! Do you have something you want to say? Write your story, tag it, and share it with all of your friends on social media.
- If you’d like your story to be considered for Gender 2.0, leave a note on this post with the link. We’ll review it, and if we’re into it, include it in our publication.
- Highlight, recommend, and respond to trans stories on Medium. Doing so will help those pieces gain visibility.
Questions about Medium? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and an actual human will get in touch.