Transgender Microcelebrity Activists: Self-broadcasting as Politics
Keywords:Transgender, Microcelebrity, YouTube, Social Media, Personal Branding, Digital Activism, Computer Mediated, Social Movements, Participatory Media, Instagram
This research is a qualitative study of Natalie Wynn and Blaire White, two transgender women who empower themselves via social media. Through microcelebrity practices, these two figures have garnered audiences online to disseminate ideas pertaining to their political ideologies. I examine the transgender microcelebrities’ Instagram accounts and YouTube videos via Jerslev’s framework for microcelebrity practices based on observations of self-celebrification on YouTube. The observed content was then examined through a political activist lens using framework from Daskal on digital rights. Participatory technologies become a tool for mobilization and information sharing. Broadcasting one’s experiences and how they relate to larger dialectics of a minority group is political in nature. This self-representation is significant for minority groups that lack sufficient mainstream approval and media representation. This study cannot define what success looks like for a digital activist, as it would be difficult to find and measure qualitative actions directly resulting from self-broadcasting. As more communication takes place on computer-mediated technologies, it must be acknowledged these interactions do not take place within a vacuum, and effects are felt offline, even if we cannot measure each instance of influence from watching a 40-minute video on YouTube.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Kyle Humphreys; Jin Kim, Ph. D.
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