Nami Kitsune Hatfield draws our attention to the importance of the accessibility of the Webcomic medium in that it allows for authentic representation of underrepresented groups in American society such as the transgender community. Hatfield speaks to the personal burden of not being able to see oneself and or your identity represented; “Personally speaking, growing up as a transgender woman I found little support or information within library settings. This lack of representation or information regarding my identity led to major struggles in my life, because for a long time I felt like I was alone in my identity and in the world” (58).
Since media platforms help to structure how a culture views specific identities and in what context, these portrayals in the media must be representative, and non-confining. Many people may relate to characters they see portrayed in the media based on identity. This relation may be comforting in that people feel understood and represented, however these depictions may also portray how one with a specific identity is supposed to perform their identity. This classic dilemma has been explored in other aspects of this class, but I want to focus on the transgender community here.
The fact that Hatfield feels underrepresented in regard to her transgender identity is a huge issue because it signifies the lack of inclusion that has been happening within the media. Meaning, in part, that many people lack the knowledge necessary needed to be fully aware of this identity thus leading to miscommunication about this identity. Hatfield states in regard to libraries and archives, “fail to take into account or equitably represent transgender issues and identities. In fact, the transgender population, which makes up less than one percent of the United States population,1 is still poorly understood.” (57) Inclusion is very important to me personally and I feel as though it isa civic duty to make sure that all identities are represented. The webcomic platform creates space to do so in that individual experiences are able to come to the surface and are paid attention to. Hatfield emphasizes this idea, “Within participatory culture, fans often act as contributors and feel as though their contributions make a difference to the products being produced.” (61) Through sharing experiences, and on the contrary paying attention to these stories, there is more space for “education and humanizing of the transgender community” (60).
Here is a comic I liked by Alyssa! Great commentary on the physicality of bodies and our perception of our own bodies.