Singer-songwriter and guitarist Daan Erikson likes to joke about his musical career: ‚ÄúI was in an all-girl band in high school - until I ruined that.‚ÄĚ Coming out as a trans guy may have put an end to his garage band but it‚Äôs opened the door to a great deal more.¬† Today, the New York University sophomore - who is majoring in both Entertainment Media and Gender and Sexuality Studies - says his experience with the band continues to influence his endeavors. ‚ÄúMy interest in the power of media stems from my love of music and the realization that it has power.‚ÄĚ
Erikson, who was recently awarded a Point Foundation scholarship to continue his studies, eventually hopes to improve realistic representations of queer people in the entertainment media world. ‚ÄúCreating awareness is the first step,‚ÄĚ he explains.¬† ‚ÄúI‚Äôm interested in how the media portrays identity.
I‚Äôve been studying marketing and plan to study entertainment law. I think it‚Äôs a matter of getting more queer and trans faces on TV outside of spectacle-style talk shows, both in the form of scripted characters and real people. Generally stereotypes become less relevant when there is more diverse representation of different identities. I think that‚Äôs already happening to some extent, but there‚Äôs a long way to go.‚ÄĚ
Erikson is particular focused on television where he sees real problems in the representations of trans people, especially Max on The L Word‚Äôs third season, and ‚Äúany Jerry Springer episode.‚ÄĚ Still, he thinks the producers of The L Word redeemed the Max character in the show‚Äôs fourth season; and he‚Äôs appreciative of the Sundance‚Äôs miniseries TransGeneration.¬† ‚ÄúWhen I came out to my supervisor‚Ä¶ she had some knowledge of what it means to be a young transguy thanks to‚Ä¶ that miniseries.‚ÄĚ
Erikson came out relatively young, but he contends, ‚ÄúIt took so long for me to come to terms with identifying as male, partially [because of] a lack of varied representation in the media. When all I saw were bearded, body builder types, I couldn‚Äôt relate.‚ÄĚ Now, he says, ‚ÄúI can see that standards of masculinity are shifting.‚ÄĚ
He identifies as transgender and transmasculine, and says, ‚ÄúI like the label ‚Äėtransguy‚Äô best. I identify‚Ä¶as queer because of my attraction for queer females. It‚Äôs always interesting explaining to people why I identify as a guy and like girls yet don‚Äôt identify as straight.‚ÄĚ
Seeing commonalities with non-trans men, Erikson remarks, ‚ÄúIn talking to some of my guy friends who aren‚Äôt trans, I‚Äôve found that they share a similar struggle. When does one become a man? I believe we have so many words for our different identities because these ideas are complicated. But not difficult.‚ÄĚ
Being trans, Erikson says, has impacted his awareness of gender, identities and privilege. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm‚Ä¶more conscious of issues surrounding privilege and multiple identities.¬† It certainly has given me a different perspective into the idea that you never know everything about people by how they appear.‚ÄĚ
He thinks assumptions based on appearances often occur across generation too, but insists, ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs unfair to assume that older generations in the LGBT community don‚Äôt know about young people.‚ÄĚ However, he admits, there are differences.¬† ‚ÄúI find people of my generation to be more open-minded and willing to consider progressive ideas. People are happy to let people identify however they want, so long as no one else‚Äôs rights are infringed upon.‚ÄĚ
When it comes to political activism, Erikson says, ‚ÄúYoung people in general are used to an entirely different type of activism. We‚Äôre coming from a different place. I read about the Civil Rights Movement in a history textbook, but I didn‚Äôt experience it first-hand. With the advent of the Internet, we‚Äôre more connected in ways that were previously impossible. To get more in touch with the younger members of the queer community, it‚Äôs important to remember that.‚ÄĚ
Trans writer, Jacob Anderson-Minshall, co-authored Blind Leap, the second book in the Blind Eye Mystery series, is available now. Contact email@example.com or visit Anderson-minshall.com for more information.