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Digital Media

Transformations in Human Communication

Edited By Paul Messaris and Lee Humphreys

The age of digital media has given rise to a new social world. It is a world in which the transmission of information from the few to the many is steadily being supplanted by the multi-directional flow of facts, lies, and ideas. It is a world in which hundreds of millions of people are voluntarily depositing large amounts of personal details in publicly accessible databases. It is a world in which interpersonal relationships are increasingly being conducted in the virtual sphere. Above all, this is a world that seems to be veering off in unpredictable ways from the trends of the immediate past. This book is a probing examination of that world, and of the changes that it has ushered into our lives.

In more than thirty essays by a wide range of scholars, this must-have second edition examines the impact of digital media in six areas – information, persuasion, community, gender and sexuality, surveillance and privacy, and cross-cultural communication – and offers an invaluable guide for students and scholars alike. With one exception, all essays are completely new or revised for this volume.

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Chapter 19: Research and Recreation of the Self: Social Media’s Role in Facilitating Gender Transition (Shane Mannis)


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Research and Recreation of the Self

Social Media’s Role in Facilitating Gender Transition

Shane Mannis

In Max Wolf Valerio’s 2006 mémoire The Testosterone Files, he writes about the process of finding himself, as well as finding information and community as a recently self-identified transgender man. First introduced to the idea of female-to-male (FTM) transsexuality by a damning treatise retrieved from a bargain book bin, he eventually responded to a small classified ad in the back of a lesbian magazine offering an FTM newsletter. His response? “This is amazing. I can’t believe there are people out there thinking these thoughts and writing these articles!” Valerio quickly ordered another booklet, then looked up the author, a trans man named Lou, in the phone book—this was 1980s San Francisco—and called him. They met in person, Lou invited Valerio to a meeting of the FTM group he facilitated, and Valerio thus found his entrée into the trans* community, along with a wealth of information shared by group members. He was lucky, of course; not everyone who needed them stumbled across the resources he found, and certainly not everyone lived in a city like San Francisco with a thriving, if underground, trans* population.

Today, there is a wealth of information easily accessible by anyone with an Internet connection, and medical and legal facts and advice for trans* people are easily found online. But equally important are...

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