Since Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair cover debuted, everyone's been talking -- to their parents, grandparents, friends, co-workers -- and since it's 2015, a lot of this conversation has been happening online.
The talk so far has unfolded in a couple of ways. One is incredible support for Caitlyn -- she made it to 1 million Twitter followers faster than the President of the United States. Social media is now covered with loving messages to Caitlyn from people around the world.
On the other hand, a number of problematic memes have been making the Internet rounds. You've probably seen some of these (they're everywhere). But before you go and share them, it's important to know that -- even if you didn't create the meme or video yourself -- these images are spreading transphobia, which is exactly what it sounds like: "fear or hatred of transgender people."
Here's Why Pushing Back Against These Memes Matters:
They Use Other People's Images To Spread False Information -- And Hate
This image of U.S. Army veteran Noah Galloway was shared all over the Internet. It was created as a negative response to ESPN announcing that Caitlyn Jenner would receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at this year's ESPYs -- but the negativity, or transphobia, was hidden in the positive description of the vet's bravery. ESPN later confirmed to MTV that there's "no such thing as a runner up for the [Arthur Ashe Courage award]."
Not only are images like this misleading, they suggest that one kind of courage is more valid than another -- that a transgender person's bravery is less than that of a veteran or an athlete. When you consider the statistic that 40 percent of transgender people will attempt suicide, Caitlyn's example of living her truth has the power to give strength to so many who feel alone, trapped or confused. That's brave.
And yet, images this one featuring Lauren Hill, a teen basketball player who recently lost her battle with cancer, have been circulating for the same reason. The posts suggest that "real heroes" like Lauren or Noah were "more deserving" of the award.
The truth is, all of these people have shown courage. One form of bravery doesn't negate the existence of another.
They Make It Seem Like Being Transgender Ruins Families
Let's talk about images like these:
Or this resurfaced "Family Guy" clip from 2009:
Not only do these images invent false family dramas, they attach negative feelings to having a transgender family member. In Caitlyn's case, her family has been extremely outspoken in their support for her:
So the next time one of these transphobic memes surfaces in your feed, pause for a moment and ask yourself if you want to participate in spreading that negativity or if you'd rather help elevate the conversation.
For more information about transgender rights and how you can fight bias, head over to MTV’s Look Different.