Graduation Term

3-24-2024

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Department of English

Committee Chair

Derek Sparby

Abstract

Queer and trans individuals have long relied on the Internet for community building and support; however, with the introduction of more than 700 anti-trans bills since the beginning of 2023 (Trans Legislation Tracker, 2024), conservatives’ consistent mocking and dehumanization of gender nonconforming people (ADL, 2023; Berg-Brousseau, 2022), and a record increase in violence specifically against nonbinary individuals (Astor, 2023), trans and nonbinary people are turning to online spaces more than ever as they endure this hostile social and political climate. While nonbinary people make up over 60% of trans adults in the U.S. (Kirzinger et al., 2023), there is very little existing research that explores how this population, outside of the trans community as a whole, operates on social media. In this thesis, I examine how nonbinary creators on one such platform, TikTok, form digital safe spaces through the posting of and interaction with 15 second to three-minute videos, despite immense transphobia and threats of banning TikTok through legislation like H.R.7521, the Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act. More specifically, I employ digital autoethnography and thematic analysis to locate and subsequently code videos into memetic screens (Sparby, 2023) and content topics, concluding that regardless of a hostile political climate and looming threats to free speech, nonbinary TikTok creators deploy trans joy as resistance and overwhelmingly post uplifting content that affirms other users through mutual care.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.30707/ETD2024.20240618063948400119.999982

Page Count

115

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