After looking at each of these outlined identity categories (FTM, MTF, female-presenting cross-dressers, and genderqueer), it is clear that the Internet has had a huge impact on the way our society views gender identity and gender expression. Although the first results to pop up during a Google search may not be the most academic – or credible by society’s standards – they give everyone an opportunity to acquire resources and information on other gender identities and forms of gender expression outside of the norms.
As discussed before, the ability to find this information depends highly on one’s current knowledge on the subject as this affects how one would even do a keyword search on the Internet. I would argue, however, that most of the transgender based resources available online are exponentially beneficial for transgender people as this is who they are more targeted towards. The one exception of this would be for SOFFAs (Significant Others, Friends, Family, and Allies) of transgender people.
Regardless, the people that need trans resources the most are trans people. This information is essential for initial identity development, medical resources, social/emotional resources, personal connections with similarly identified people, etc. As we saw in the milestones outlined by Beemyn and Rankin for all different kind of transgender identities, these steps are a crucial part of many identities’ development. Perhaps one of the most important roles of online communication and social media in the development of trans identities is that communities form online to help trans individuals not feel so alone in the world. It is not often that an individual has had much education on trans identities or even the existence of trans people outside of the mention of trans slang in derogatory contexts. The Internet provides a way for these individuals to connect and know that just because society does not yet fully understand their identities, this does not mean there are not other people out there that identify in the same way.
As a transgender identifying person, I can testify to the effectiveness of these resources in the development of one’s identity. I used the Internet to learn about different identities, research different medical options, find a community, connect with others of similar identities, and even as a tool for coming out (to some extent). Often research fails to take into consideration personal testimony without being completely biased. I have done my best to present my research findings while still acknowledging that inevitably, I am biased.