Identity and Online Advocacy

How AJ Clementine is making that light bulb moment for Transgender youth a whole lot easier


This conference paper explores themes of gender identity and advocacy in contemporary media/online spaces. AJ Clementine a TikTok creator who has over 900,000 followers and 59,000,000 likes, she is also transgender. She thoroughly documents her life experiences on the popular social media platform that is TikTok, to present a well-rounded and authentic character. She has morphed the idea of what a counterpublic is into her community/following she has nurtured. She is presenting an essential resource for transgender youth that allows them to see a positive transgender role model in an often-transphobic media landscape. This positive role model, and actual model, just might allow some gender confused youth to finally work out their own confusing gender identity.

Key Words: Identity, Gender Identity, Advocacy, TikTok, LBGT


For centuries the LGBTQIA+ population have lived as a largely marginalised community with being able to work out their identity one of their largest hurdles when living in a largely heteronormative and cisnormative society. Media plays a large role in allowing people to work out who they are and is the prominent source that the public people to break down misconceptions about a marginalised group (McInroy & Craig, 2015). One group of the LGBTQIA+ that continually suffers from lack of media representation and misrepresentation is the T in the acronym, transgender people (Cannon et al., 2017). Transgender is the term used to describe the group of people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth (Cannon et al., 2017), as gender and sex are two different things. This group of people face various forms of mistreatment, discrimination and literal violence against them solely on the basis of their gender expression and more importantly their identity, who they are (Cannon et al., 2017). There is no wonder why many trans people seek comfort and support on many social media platforms that allow anonymity, validation and meaningful support to be created (Cannon et al., 2017). This has led to the creation of counterpublics that many trans people seek to share their experience online to help advocate for trans rights (Jackson, Bailey & Foucault Welles, 2018), one such online creator that is sharing their story is AJ Clementine. Clementine’s advocacy, largely aided with the social media platform of TikTok, has been recognised with over 900 thousand followers and 59 million likes on TikTok (Clementine, n.d.), she is now so iconic that she has also been immortalised in a mural for the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (Clementine, 2021g). Clementine herself has said that it was solely because of seeing Kim Petras, a German singer, go through a well-documented sex change that allowed her to realise that she herself was trans (Andrews & McDonald, 2020), now with the help of TikTok Clementine is doing just that for another generation of trans youth (Clementine, 2020b). It is clear that social media, in particular TikTok, is allowing people of the LGBTQIA+ population to validate their own identities more easily.

Clementine being immortalised in a mural for the 2021 Mardi Gras (Clementine, 2021g)

Who is AJ Clementine?

AJ Clementine highlights the power of the media in allowing her to realise her gender identity. When she was 15 her English teacher handed her an article about a German singer, Kim Petras who had sexual reassignment surgery at age 16, this is when she finally realised that people felt the same way she did (Andrews & McDonald, 2020). Clementine herself describes Kim Petras as a beacon of light to her (Andrews & McDonald, 2020), which just highlights how necessary positive media representation of LGBTQIA+ people is to youth in validating their identities. Clementine was then diagnosed with gender dysphoria, now known as gender incongruency, at 18 (Tran, 2018). Clementine uses her platform for many things from sharing mundane experiences to explicitly advocating for trans rights. One example of mundane things that Clementine has shared is the privilege all cisgender people have when they pee, this validation only comes for transgender people after having sexual reassignment surgery, this little thing is just an everyday lived experience for trans people that is never really thought about by cisgender people (Andrews & McDonald, 2020). After viewing Clementine’s TikTok profile another thing is clear, she has a partner and they are very much in love (Clementine, n.d., Clementine, 2021b). Showing this is an extremely important part of her advocacy for transwomen, she says while it is important to protect yourself it is also important to know that there are good people out there (Andrews & McDonald, 2020, Clementine, 2021f). AJ Clementine is creating an essential contemporary media representation of transgender people, this has the ability to validate identities, advocate for transgender rights and breakdown harmful stereotypes constructed by mainstream media.

Transgender Representation in Traditional & Contemporary Media

Transgender media representation in online and offline media are two totally different things. These representations in the media inform the general, cisgender, public about transgender people and are vital to how this marginalised population are viewed by a powerful mainstream majority (McInroy & Craig, 2015). However, more importantly media representation of transgender people has significant effects on young trans peoples’ identity and their lived experiences (McInroy & Craig, 2015). Representation of trans people in offline media, including television and film, include RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009 to present), Transamerica (2005) or The Danish Girl (2015) (Jackson, Bailey & Foucault Welles, 2018). One consistent theme across this offline media representation is that Hollywood loves to cast cisgender, heterosexual actors to play trans women (Jackson, Bailey & Foucault Welles, 2018), while these representations add to trans awareness in the mainstream conversation, it does however reinforce a comical caricature of transgender people as crossdressers for ignorant minds (McInroy & Craig, 2015). It is consistent throughout the trans community that offline media representation is often limited, problematic and stereotypical (McInroy & Craig, 2015).
Clementine pointing out misrepresentation in the media (Clementine, 2021e)

However, people in the trans community often feel that justice is done, when a character presents as a complex individual where being trans is just another part of their whole identity, not when a character is presented and being trans is their only character trait (McInroy & Craig, 2015). This is consistently achieved less in offline media and more in online media, where trans people can authentically document their own experiences, this leads to a more realistic portrayal of trans people and allows people to see a complex individual rather than disproportionately focusing on their gender identity (McInroy & Craig, 2015). Coincidently, this is exactly what AJ Clementine does. She on multiple occasions has addressed this bias in offline media representation (Clementine, 2021f), her TikTok presents a multifaceted person, being trans is not her only characteristic. She loves princess fashion, dubbing herself “your modern-day Cinderella” (Clementine, n.d.) but also has a successful modelling and fashion career (Clementine, 2020a). Clementine is presenting a vital alternative to common caricatures of trans people that are presented in offline media, which is vital for gender diverse youth to witness a positive media representation, which one could say is straight from the horse’s mouth, in order to affirm/validate their gender identity (McInroy & Craig, 2015). TikTok is allowing trans creators to present an alternative to the stereotype filled sphere that is offline media, whereby TikTok users can see this more authentic content which contradicts caricatures presented by traditional media.

Clementine showing that success can come to trans people (Clementine, 2020a)

Advocacy in the Transgender Sphere

Advocacy for trans, and more largely LGBTQIA+, people can go all the way back to Stonewall in the 1960’s where trans women of colour birthed the LGBTQ rights movement (Mendelson, 2015 cited in Jackson, Bailey & Foucault Welles, 2018). Advocacy for trans people has come a long way since then (Jackson, Bailey & Foucault Welles, 2018), however, trans people are still very much discriminated against just for their gender identity (McInroy & Craig, 2015). Trans people also cop a lot of flack from their queer peers, one well documented case of this was when prominent trans activist Jennicet Gutiérrez yelled at President Obama in 2015 at a LBGT event at the Whitehouse, she called for better treatment of imprisoned trans immigrants and was met with harsh boos from her LGBTQIA+ ménage (Ennis, 2015). Her outburst at President Obama about the torture and rape of transgender immigrants was likened to Kanye West’s infamous interruption of Taylor Swift at the 2009 Video Music Awards (Ennis, 2015). This highlights how other members of the LGBTQIA+ community also contribute to a continual pattern of misunderstanding and alienation of trans people, which only contributes to the stereotype that transwomen are disruptive attention seekers (Ennis, 2015), when this pattern only benefits cisgender, heterosexual people. There is no wonder that this has led to the creation of trans exclusive counterpublics.

Marginalised people already sit on the outside of the mainstream public, they consequently form their own smaller public spheres known as counterpublics (Fraser, 1990), the same could be said for trans communities finding comfort in each other rather than the LGBTQIA+ population as a whole. One such counterpublic that formed on Twitter was the #GirlsLikeUs. The creators Janet Mock and Laverne Cox created the hashtag in response to ongoing misrepresentation, violence and marginalisation of trans people; this counterpublic worked to advocate for trans rights in the larger public sphere (Jackson, Bailey & Foucault Welles, 2018). On Twitter alone the hashtag #GirlsLikeUs has been tweeted over 150 thousand times and was largely used for trans people to connect with each other, to advocate and to celebrate the accomplishments of trans women (Jackson, Bailey & Foucault Welles, 2018). Clementine’s TikTok is an interesting example when it comes to counterpublics; her profile and content share many similarities with how people interacted with the #GirlsLikeUs hashtag. She regularly documents mundane experiences of being transwoman (Clementine, 2021d), advocate for trans rights (Clementine, 2021c, Clementine 2021a) and celebrate the accomplishments of transwomen (Clementine, 2020a). AJ Clementine and her TikTok content are essentially allowing once exclusive trans counterpublics to move into mainstream online media, as seen with her over 900 thousand followers (Clementine, n.d.). This normalisation and new presentation of a once exclusive counterpublic allows for more mainstream attention which consequently allows for people who have not seeked out this content to see it. This means that more people will be able to affirm their own gender identities from this increased exposure, as positive media representation is essential for people to affirm their own gender identities (McInroy & Craig, 2015). This allows for better representation and advocacy for trans people, and with increased exposure allows people to better recognise their own identities.


Reply to @nsjrjekkek the way i turned this troll comment into a lil appreciation for trans men 💫💖 #trans #voicereveal #learnontiktok

♬ Take Me to Pluto – idonthateyou
Clementine utilising her platform to advocate and educate (Clementine, 2021c)

Dangers of TikTok

While TikTok has been a large aid in gaining Clementine a following and allowing her to advocate for change it is not all sunshine and rainbows. TikTok runs off of its iconic ‘for you page’ which is a stream of videos curated to the user’s interests, however, this curation system takes time to adjust to the user’s interests (TikTok, 2020). The ‘for you page’ has allowed many trans TikTok creators to find a supporting counterpublic, however this platform is riddled with transphobia and harassment (Perrett, 2021). This is highlighted in how AJ Clementine turns hate comments into educational content, one that comes to mind is when she educated her followers on pregnancy in trans men (Clementine, 2021c), as well as sharing the effects that constant trolling, transphobia and ignorance has on her mental state (Clementine, 2021d). It is consistent among trans creators that the hate experienced on TikTok is much greater than on any other platform (Perrett, 2021). And while TikTok has done so much for trans visibility, due to the ‘for you page’ and ease of directing hate, whether that be comments or duets, there is a lack of connection between user and creator on TikTok compared to other platforms which is contributing to trollers hating like there is no tomorrow (Perrett, 2021). This is particularly worrying especially when vulnerable trans youth are accessing these counterpublics as a way to seek validation of their own identities and all they see in the comment section is hate and ignorance. This is even more worrying when 51% of trans boys and 30% trans girls have attempted suicide, compared to 14% of cisgender youth (Toomey, Syvertsen & Shramko, 2018). While TikTok is doing so much good in allowing trans creators like AJ Clementine to showcase their gender identity to the masses and vulnerable trans youth, it is coming at a price of fuelling transphobia and encouraging anonymous users on the app.


no one deserves to b treated this way, show kindness to ppl. 2 yrs later & my story grew a beautiful family right here 💖 #trans #foryou #mystory

♬ original sound – The Unforsakens
Clementine using a trend to show the transphobia and hate she deals with daily (Clementine, 2021d)


Transgender people are an extremely marginalised group of people, this has consequently forced them to seek out their own counterpublics in the past. However, once exclusive counterpublics have morphed into TikTok creators who have developed large followings. Trans people are seeking these TikTok creators, like AJ Clementine, to see an authentic and positive representation of transgender people in the media. This positive representation consequently allows them to validate their own gender identity, this has been identified in so many cases as being a crucial identity-defining step to validating one’s own gender identity (Andrews & McDonald, 2020, McInroy & Craig, 2015). AJ Clementine made a TikTok that mocked the current offline media landscape and its misrepresentation of trans people, see (Clementine, 2020c), she acted as if she were the main character in a holiday movie, however she presented herself as a one-dimensional trans character. Saying things like “Did you forget? I’m a trans girl no one wants to date me” and “I had my own set of jingle bells, if you know what I mean” (Clementine, 2020c). While Clementine presented this as a joke, it is no joke when this shows the mainstream representation that most people see, the current media landscape needs to come a long way in order to present authentic transgender people/characters in the media so vulnerable youth do not have to seek exclusive counterpublics in order to affirm their identities.


watch this be the plot of a holiday film next yr 🤩❄️🎄 #transandproud #holidayvibes #fyp #acting #xmas #holidays

♬ original sound – AJ Clementine
Clementine’s trailer for a holiday film with a trans lead (Clementine, 2020c)


Andrews, M., & McDonald, Z. (Host). (2020, October 22). In conversation: AJ Clementine [Audio podcast episode]. In Shameless. Spotify.

Cannon, Y., Speedlin, S., Avera, J., Robertson, D., Ingram, M., & Prado, A. (2017). Transition, connection, disconnection, and social media: Examining the digital lived experiences of transgender individuals. Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling11(2), 68-87.

Clementine, A. [@ajclementine]. (2020a, February 2). All the people who bullied me & called me ugly: 🤡🤡🤡 #brbcrying #model #sportsgirl #mtf #transisbeautiful #mywholeheart #soidecided [Video]. TikTok.

Clementine, A. [@ajclementine]. (2020b, December 3). Reply to @chill_vibez13 i hope this makes sense 😅💖 #learning #holidayvibes #transandproud #fyp [Video]. TikTok.

Clementine, A. [@ajclementine]. (2020c, December 23). watch this be the plot of a holiday film next yr 🤩❄🎄 #transandproud #holidayvibes #fyp #acting #xmas #holidays [Video]. TikTok.

Clementine, A. [@ajclementine]. (2021a, January 20). Reply to @carloswilliams_ watch me b preggerz & have a baby in the future 😍💖 #transgender #foryou #trans #pregnant [Video]. TikTok.

Clementine, A. [@ajclementine]. (2021b, January 26). Reply to @user450327789 he was a lil confused but had the spirit 🤩💖 #truestory #tgirl #boyfriend #foryoupage [Video]. TikTok.

Clementine, A. [@ajclementine]. (2021c, January 27). Reply to @soon2begone the way i turned this troll comment into a lil appreciation for trans men 💫💖 #trans #voicereveal [Video]. TikTok.

Clementine, A. [@ajclementine]. (2021d, February 4). no one deserves to b treated this way, show kindness to ppl. 2 yrs later & my story grew a [Video]. TikTok.

Clementine, A. [@ajclementine]. (2021e, February 23). Hollywood used us as a continuous joke, for what? 😍🦋💕 @bambifairy #funny #trans #transgender #fyp [Video]. TikTok.

Clementine, A. [@ajclementine]. (2021f, February 25). he doesn’t care but I have trust issues 🥺 #couple #imtrans #transgirl #foryoupage #myprince [Video]. TikTok.

Clementine, A. [@ajclementine]. (2021g, March 4). my parents even said this lol 👋🏼 ib: @dmsedd #lookatmenow #trans #transgender #pride #tgirl #foryoupage [Video]. TikTok.

Clementine, A. [@ajclementine]. (n.d.). ✌🏼😙 your modern-day cinderella 🦋cuter on the gram: @ajclementine_ [TikTok Profile]. TikTok. Retrieved April 4, 2021, from

Ennis, D. (2015, July 1). Booing Jennicet was wrong, but was what she did worse? Advocate.

Fraser, N. (1990). Rethinking the public sphere: A contribution to the critique of actually existing democracy. Social text, (25/26), 56-80.

Jackson, S. J., Bailey, M., & Foucault Welles, B. (2018). #GirlsLikeUs: Trans advocacy and community building online. New Media & Society20(5), 1868-1888.

McInroy, L. B., & Craig, S. L. (2015). Transgender representation in offline and online media: LGBTQ youth perspectives. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment25(6), 606-617.

Perrett, C. (2021, February 27). Transgender TikTok creators say the app’s mysterious ‘For You’ page is a breeding ground for transphobia and targeted harassment. Business Insider.

TikTok. (2020). How TikTok recommends videos #ForYou. TikTok.

Toomey, R. B., Syvertsen, A. K., & Shramko, M. (2018). Transgender adolescent suicide behavior. Pediatrics142(4) e20174218. Retrieved from

Tran, C. (2018, December 3). Young woman, 22, reveals her beautiful transition from male to model ‘AJ Clementine’ – after feeling ‘trapped in a different body’ for 13 years. Daily Mail.

31 thoughts on “How AJ Clementine is making that light bulb moment for Transgender youth a whole lot easier

  1. Hi Connor!

    Thank you for your paper I found it highly engaging! I absolutely love AJ Clementine! My echo chamber often includes creators like her and they are very engaging! I was wondering what you thought on some of the hate that these creators receive discourage them to post. The number of trolls that attack her must have a bad effect on her mental health, as shown in your TikTok example. I would love to know your thoughts on how a creator could cope with this as it must be a challenging part of the industry, as you mentioned these suicide rates are extremely high and are very concerning. Do you believe trans creators would be helping to lower these rates?


    1. Hey Grace,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my paper and it really makes me happy you enjoyed it!

      Trolling is something that I feel is at times is uncontrollable. I’ll quote my mum as she read my conference paper “Why would trolls even comment on AJ’s posts if they hate trans people. I just can’t understand it.” That’s the thing I can’t understand and I’m sure these creators feel the same way.

      One potential way this could be combatted is the democratisation elements that social media platforms allow. One would be the way Abbie Chatfield routinely puts her trolls’ comments up on her story for all her followers to see with all their information. She as well routinely reports all trolling and death threats to the police, as I’m pretty sure there is a new law that allows people who make repeated death threats to be prosecuted. That is one way these influencers can take action on these trolls.

      As I am not an influencer I have absolutely no idea how it feels to have that amount of hate thrown at your way endlessly.

      From my research, for this paper, it is clear to me that these rates are being lowered by increasing advocacy. As McInroy & Craig (2015) states:

      “­Media is the predominant source where people, both transgender and cisgender, gain general knowledge about transgender issues. Thus, media representation influences and informs the general public’s attitudes. These depictions also have a significant impact on transgender individuals’ lives and experiences, including their development of their gender identities.”

      This shows that it is clear that these influencers/advocates like AJ Clementine can have great impacts in their advocacy work in the general public. Extrapolating from this data it can be assumed that this positive representation on trans peoples’ identities. I think that was my argument in my conference paper, but at this point in the conference, I just have no idea anymore. As McInroy & Craig (2015) states: “The [media] representations … have a significant impact on transgender young peoples’ identity development and lived experiences.” So basically positive representations can have positive impacts.

      So yes, I think trans creators’ advocacy is having positive impacts inside and outside of the trans community

      Thank you so much, Grace!
      Have an awesome day, Connor 🙂

      McInroy, L. B., & Craig, S. L. (2015). Transgender representation in offline and online media: LGBTQ youth perspectives. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 25(6), 606-617.

  2. Wow Connor,
    This paper is so good. I really enjoyed it and thought your structure was really well crafted. I will definitely have to refer back to this paper to help me make sure my paragraphs are succinct points that each offer a different aspect to my argument. I also enjoy reading all your responses to other people’s comments and questions and found an added value in this elaboration.

    My question to you is if you found any research or examples of trans-communities on Tik Tok or other platforms that have common interests or aesthetics as you mentioned that trans women tend to assoiciate and be in communities with people that are similar to them, rather than the other groups of the LGBTQIA+ community? For example, have you found a community of feminine “Cinderella” type trans women that engage with each other and other trans communities that include more masculine trans women that are more likely to engage with each others posts? Are there smaller communities within the trans community that develop on social media platforms like Tik Tok or is the trans presence on social media too small to form even smaller groups based on identity representation?

    1. I hope that question doesn’t come off as ignorant. I just haven’t experienced much trans representation in my echo chamber.

      1. Hi Eva,

        Thank you so much for taking the time to read my paper, it really says something even though you don’t normally engage with trans content!

        I think regardless of gender or sexual orientation we naturally gravitate to people who are like us. So naturally, this would happen in the trans community. As minorities, it would most definitely be harder for people to bond with others who are like you in a marginalised community, especially in the trans community where everyone’s journey is vastly different. This is not to say that it’s impossible though.

        An example of this would most definitely be AJ Clementine [@ajclementine] and Belle Bambi [@bambifairy] who are friends, to my knowledge, on TikTok. They most definitely share the same cinderella aesthetic.

        Thank you so much, Connor 🙂

        1. Cool, thanks for responding, Connor.

          I agree that people’s journey’s are vastly different and can see that by not forming these smaller clique or niche groups, these influencers may be accessing other people’s explore pages that would not usually have trans content in their echo chamber or content bubble, not because they are opposed, rather they focus on different topics of interest.
          I have actually seen AJ Clementine’s posts a few times in my explore page, despite me not following any trans people prior. Now, thanks to your paper and learning more about her story, I follow her.

          1. Hey Eva,

            I find that really cool because of this conference paper you are now actively seeking trans content creators, like AJ Clementine.

            I think that has been a really great benefit of this conference. We have been able to extend conversations from our echo chambers to other people that wouldn’t usually hear them, effectively allowing these conversations to spread to the collective conscious. I really thank you for broadening my social consciousness on veganism too.

            Hope you have a great day! Connor 🙂

  3. Hi Connor,

    What a well articulated and thought-proving paper!! Absolutely loved reading every bit of it.

    You mention in your paper that Tik Tok has allowed for the validation of trans individuals’ identities more easily, compared to traditional forms of media. I agree with you here, especially as I feel social media allows for more affordances on the platform to shape your identity. Weimann and Masri (2020) mention in their article that Tik Tok allows for identity to be showcased through individual’s username, profile picture and bio. As for traditional media, like you mention characters are often casted and scripted to reinforce stereotypes that can actually be detrimental for the identity of trans individuals.

    Weimann and Masri (2020) also mention how a lot of the users on Tik Tok are younger adolescents and that there is also a large community of far-right extremists, and though there are guidelines to mitigate hate-speech , Tik Tok appears to be unable to impose the guidelines. You also discuss in your paper the dangers of Tik Tok and trolls, especially on younger youth who are still discovering their identity. So, my question to you is: what do you think Tik Tok can do to reduce these dangers, or do you think it’s more up to the users to report content collectively?

    Again, amazing paper and can’t wait for your response :))

    Weimann, G., & Masri, N. (2020). Research note: spreading hate on TikTok. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 1-14.

    1. Hey Terina,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my paper, I am so happy that it is being met with a warm reception.

      I love that people are just starting to realise that minorities are not the problem the hate behind the marginalisation is the real problem.

      According to the GLAAD social media safety index (Thanks Mads), there are several things that platforms like TikTok can do. One thing could be implicating a strike system of sorts, however, an already effective measure that has been used to limit the spread of misinformation about coronavirus/vaccines is circuit breakers (GLAAD, 2021). Circuit breakers essentially slow the spread of certain content, they don’t silence them, however, it stops more naive minds from seeing said content (GLAAD, 2021). While this is a great tool; circuit breakers can only be used when the content is deemed as infringing upon public/safety issues (GLAAD, 2021), which in my opinion would require an entire cultural shift around understanding the basic repercussions of transphobia, homophobia, and racism.

      The other point made in the report specifically about TikTok says there needs to be more human moderators who have adequate LGBTQIA+ knowledge (GLAAD, 2021), which just seems like common sense to me.

      As for your question, I’ve never reported something on TikTok as my algorithm is naturally left-winged, inclusive and pretty dog heavy. I think this is important to note, it seems like we all immediately know how someone thinks politically off their TikTok For You Page, and is actually a really interesting avenue of research that one could potentially take.

      Thank you so much, Connor 🙂

      GLAAD. (2021, May 10). Social Media Safety Index. GLAAD.

      1. Human moderators, I agree does seem like common sense – there’s only so much a computer can analyse until the technology is implemented. I guess my next thought is if there are human moderators, would there need to be individuals from different backgrounds to reduce potential biases?

        1. Hey Terina,

          Love your point that was really good.
          As the GLAAD report was solely for LBGTQIA+ media representation it recommended human moderators who are equipped with adequate LGBTQIA+ knowledge (GLAAD, 2021). However, it is clear in this day and age that hate comes in many forms, not solely directed at LGBTQIA+ people, so paired with algorithms human moderators need to have adequate education on minorities, as there are many of them.

          Thank you so much for taking the time to engage with my paper, Connor 🙂

          GLAAD. (2021, May 10). Social Media Safety Index. GLAAD.

  4. What an amazing paper! I think trans representation is so important cause I feel like it’s a fundamental part of helping fix the issues that LGBTQI+ people face on a daily basis as well as providing hope to young LGBTQI+ people. I Love AJ and was obsessed when she collaborated with other creators.

    Do you think that having real-life role models like AJ is better than having fictional characters? or do you think they serve different purposes?

    Loved, loved, loved this paper. You did such a good job!

    1. Hey Grace,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my paper and I’m so glad people are enjoying it. It really warms my heart to know there are true allies out there!

      To be honest I feel any gender-diverse representation fiction or non-fiction is really crucial for normalisation and destigmatisation. Personally, I think progressive children’s TV shows are missing a crucial opportunity to support marginalised communities e.g. Bluey (Wang, 2021). After seeing positive trans role models in the media it often leads to self-realisation that “I’m not a monster” or “I’m not going to be another murder statistic” (Craggs, 2016). This is mutually beneficial for both cisgender and transgender people (Craggs, 2016).

      But a different take on what type of role models are best is actually having real-life ones. I think for parents of gender-diverse children it is important to have contact with other parents just for that support. Just another take.

      Thank you so much!

      Craggs, C. (2016). Why we need an array of trans role models. Stonewall Youth.
      Wang, B. (2021, April 14). I’ve learnt a lot from Bluey, but can the show be more representative?. ABC.

  5. Hi Connor!

    I really enjoyed reading your paper, I thought it was really well researched and articulated.

    I absolutely adore Aj Clementine and have been a follower of her’s since I first joined TikTok over a year ago. Aj has a very bubblegum princess presentation, but I think it’s crucial to have trans representation that isn’t as stereotypically male or female, as I’m sure you will agree. Which brings me to Gottmik a Trans man who was a contestant on the most recent season of RuPauls Drag Race US (as I’m sure you are aware). Gottmik also has a famous TikTok account. On TikTok do you think that one’s representation is more crucial than the other?

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


    1. HEY RUBY!

      Your suspicions are correct I am aware of the GORGE ICON that is Gottmik. She (not misgendering am talking about the queen that is Gottmik) presents such a different perspective on what being transgender means. We are so used to seeing only Ken and Barbie in the transgender landscape. AJ Clementine describes herself as ” your modern-day cinderella” and fits that aesthetic (Clementine, n.d.), which could potentially be damaging to more masculine trans women or more feminine trans men, which there definitely is.

      We always naturally look for people like us and if we can’t see someone like that we assume there is something wrong with us. That is why Gottmik, a transgender homosexual drag queen, is one of the best and most important trans advocates out there. There is also a stigma that all trans people are heterosexual, which is most definitely not the case. That is another reason why his advocacy is doubly important.

      To quote Bimini Bon Boulash I think we all need to “Don’t be scared to embrace the femme, whether you’re he, she or them” (The Cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, 2021).

      Time to crash the cis-tem.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my paper!
      Have an awesome day, Connor 💞


      Clementine, A. [@ajclementine]. (n.d.). ✌🏼😙 your modern-day cinderella 🦋cuter on the gram: @ajclementine_ [TikTok Profile]. TikTok. Retrieved April 4, 2021, from
      The Cast of RuPaul's Drag Race UK. (2021). UK Hun? (United Kingdolls Version) [Song]. World of Wonder Productions

      1. Hey Connor!!

        Yes! This is why I love Gottmik because he breaks so many of the stereotypes surrounding trans people.

        Loved the Bimini reference!

        Ruby 🙂

  6. Hi Connor,

    I really loved this paper! I think you did an amazing job of conveying how the TikTok platform can be used to celebrate and educated queer lives. I also do believe that TikTok allows creates to become popular for being their authentic selves (Anderson, 2021).

    I do firmly believe that TikTok creates safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people (Ohlheiser, 2020), I think this is partly due to the ‘foryoupage’ and TikToks algorithm. I don’t think that I have the knowledge or experience to comment on how TikTok has personally effected the lives of trans people. However, I do believe that AJ Clementine is a positive representation of transgender people in the media. Her content is informative and educational, along with dealing with hate comments in a comedic and lighthearted way .

    I can’t argue with anything you have written, as I agree with what you have said. Congrats on a great paper!

    I would like to propose the question: What would you like to see in the future for online trans advocacy?

    Zoe 🙂

    Ohlheiser, A. (2020). TikTok has become the soul of the LGBTQ Internet. The Washington Post.

    Anderson, S. (2021). How TikTok stars are reinventing the path to fame. Quartz.

    1. Hey Zoe,

      Thank you so much time for reading my paper, I am so glad it is being met with such a warm reception.

      In the future, I hope this flourishing online advocacy can translate to the, at times bleak and black and white, media landscape we are currently trapped in. That way this diversity can be seen everywhere by people who may not have intentionally looked for it, that is a large step toward normalisation and a step away from stigmatisation. That way then people, especially gender-diverse youth, won’t have to actively seek out lucrative content to validate their identities. I do commend TikTok as the for you page is allowing this, however, it does not hold the same amount of power as the mainstream media landscape does when it comes to moulding the general population’s opinions of a marginalised group.

      Thanks, Connor 🙂

  7. Hi Connor

    What a well-researched and articulate paper.!

    I consider myself a trans ally with two trans people in my life. One is older and in her forties and one is a friend of one of my teen daughters. I can’t but help wonder if the younger one will have a different journey given the growing representation of trans people in the media now.

    He is just starting on this journey. I am happy to say the school is being very supportive and he has a supportive group of friends. It is also such a non-event for my daughter. When I asked about him, she said he was trans almost like he has blonde hair.

    I have such great respect for Generation Z. It is very different from when I went to school in the eighties where no one was really allowed to express who they really were.

    I actually wrote a paper on transphobia in the military for a Sex and Gender subject. Despite me thinking I was pretty ‘versed’ on the subject, I found I learned so much more about the importance of visibility and representation in the media and how trans people had really been demonised for so long. I love the positive representation that AJ Clementine brings. I will have to find her and follow her now!

    Did you manage to catch Disclosure on Netflix?

    Well worth it. It is from the US but documents trans people in film and TV.

    I don’t have any questions for you but even you just writing this paper has probably opened some more eyes to the world of being trans and how all of us can be better.

    Thank you.


    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my paper, Michelle!

      Through my own experiences, especially with primary school-age children, children are not bothered when it comes to diversity, it is always the parents and what ideas are being put into their heads. On the whole, most children are receptive to name, pronoun, and uniform changes, that one kid who’ll have a problem with it will always have a parent behind them saying it’s wrong. And that’s why mainstream media representation is so hugely important for these opinions to go away.

      Unfortunately “Disclosure” is still on my watchlist, however, I did listen to a podcast about it and how deeply they discussed the casting of cisgender, heterosexual white men to play trans women is contributing to a pattern of misconceptions and violence toward trans people is truly an excellent point. Damn, I should’ve put that in my conference paper 🙂

      Your paper is officially on my reading list!

      Have an awesome day, Connor 🙂

      1. Hey Connor

        My paper on transphobia was for another subject. Certainly made me think a lot differently. For this subject, I wrote about Military families finding community online.

        I am still finding tidbits for my paper too. Always the way!
        You are so right in how Gen Z looks at gender diversity. I hope for my girls I have taught them the right things, but yes as you mentioned there are still some that will be influenced by their upbringings. I have a lot of hope for the future. Make sure when you have time you watch Disclosure.


        1. Hey Michelle,

          It warms my heart to know there are truly supportive people who are reinforcing open-minded thoughts into the next generation. Maybe it isn’t because Gen Z is so progressive but the people who raised us are!

          Disclosure is definitely on the watch list!

          Thank you so much, Connor.

  8. Hi Connor,

    This is a really interesting paper! I first learnt of AJ Clementine when I saw the announcement of Instagram’s Mardi Gras murals and I have continued to follow her story on TikTok.

    I also esearched the TikTok platform for my paper in this conference, however I did not discover much about its moderation practices. Were you able to find much research about this, other than the excellent article from Perrett (2021)?

    I have previously done research about the flagging and moderation practices on the Instagram platform, and how these systems have be commandeered by certain users to abuse and harass individuals from marginalised communities. The three suggestions for changes that could make Instagram safer for the LGBTQIA+ population, based on my research were:

    – the publishing of clearer and more opaque moderation policies, which are more in line with international human rights standards (Are, 2020, p.743)
    – a more extensive reporting system that included details of the impact of the report and a possible punishment for false reporting (Pennycock et al., 2019, p. 777)
    – better training and support for online content moderators – who are often third-party contractors from the global south (Dwoskin et al., 2019)

    What changes do you think need to be made to the TikTok platform to allow Transgender individuals to feel safer and more supported? Should their content be removed from the more generalised ‘For You’ pages to limit harassment? Or is this just another form of suppression for these content creators who are doing important advocacy work for their community and the wider community as a whole?




    Are, C. (2020). How Instagram’s algorithm is censoring women and vulnerable users but helping online abusers. Feminist Media Studies, 20(5), 741–744.

    Dwoskin, E., Whalen, J., & Cabato, R. (2019, July 25). Content moderators at YouTube, Facebook and Twitter see the worst of the web – and suffer silently. The Washington Post.

    Pennycook, G., McPhetres, J., Zhang, Y., Lu, J. G., & Rand, D. G. (2020). Fighting COVID-19 Misinformation on Social Media: Experimental Evidence for a Scalable Accuracy-Nudge Intervention. Psychological Science, 31(7), 770–780.

    1. Hey Mads,

      I found research for TikTok, especially minorities on TikTok, was limited to very few opinion pieces in pro-LBGTQIA+ online publications. I hope more peer-reviewed research will come through in the future!

      I find it really ironic when companies do ‘research’ into how they can better protect minorities while actively peddling alt-right content. Like how this: article outlines how naïve minds are easily being radicalised. I feel this narrative is always being played out, while minority content isn’t being promoted and silenced by radicalised trolls.

      I think restricting Trans creator’s content would be the equivalent of censorship. Which happens in anti LBGTQIA+ nations. Not giving them a voice or putting a barrier on their content would just be wrong. Being so socially progressive myself I don’t think the problem needs to be remedied with ‘helping’ minorities by barring their content, it needs to be with actively tackling hate speech and ignorance that runs rampant in our society and media landscape. I’m looking at you Channel 7 and Sky News.

      This can only be tackled by having a wider variety of people that reflects our modern-day society, things are not black and white anymore, and anyone who is bothered by that needs to open their eyes and listen. I think TikTok is giving a platform to these minorities and a potential path to enter the media industry and give our black and white media landscape some colour! Blue, white, and PINK! YES!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my paper and continue the conversation about a topic I hold so close to my heart xoxo.

      1. Thanks for you response Connor! I love seeing your pattern for this subject!

        Do you think there are things TikTok could be actively doing to help support and promote this community? Or do you think it’s not the responsibility of the platform?


        1. Hey Mads,

          To quote Elsa we are really going into the unknown here. And that is where the problem lies, as our world is progressing forward and getting more colourful we are encountering more and more problems that are essential in normalisation and inclusion.

          As per Perret (2021), TikTok told Insider that ­ “There is no place for hate and harassment on TikTok,” however it seems unclear what TikTok is actually going to do to protect their vulnerable LGBTQIA+ users. The for you page has its pros and cons. It allows Trans creators to instantly connect with other Trans people and allow a community/counter-public to grow, however, because of this lack of connection it also allows hate to be fuelled from ignorant minds (Perret, 2021).

          This is a growing issue and I think wherever marginalised communities have their moment in the spotlight, which TikTok is allowing, there will be hate and ignorance. This is a very new issue, TikTok has only said that this year. TikTok has only disclosed how their iconic for you page works this year. So I think for real change to happen a lot more problematic things need to happen to get the attention of mainstream media and put pressure on TikTok to make positive changes. What these positive changes will be, I don’t know.

          I think with anything new there are so many variables and so many different ways it could go.

          Thank you so much for taking the time to read my reply and engage with my paper.

          Have an awesome day, Connor 🙂


          Perrett, C. (2021, February 27). Transgender TikTok creators say the app’s mysterious ‘For You’ page is a breeding ground for transphobia and targeted harassment. Business Insider.

          1. Hi Connor,

            Thanks again for you response.

            I thought you might be interest to know that on Monday GLAAD (2021) released its inaugural ‘Social Media Safety Index’. The report found that the five top social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and TikTok) were “categorically unsafe across the board” (Ellis, 2021, as cited in HBO, 2021, 0:45) for the LGBTQ+ community. It also offered suggestion on ways the platforms could change to be more supportive to these communities.

            A TikTok spokesperson has already responded to the report, saying “we share GLAAD’s dedication to the safety of the LGBTQ+ community and will continue working with GLAAD and other LGBTQ+ organizations to help inform and strengthen our work.” (Silva, 2021).

            I thought you might be interested in the findings of the report for future research in this area.




            GLAAD. (2021, May 10). Social Media Safety Index. GLAAD.

            HBO. (2021, May 9). Axios on HBO: GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis on Social Media Safety (Clip) | HBO. YouTube.

            Silva, C. (2021, May 10). Top social media platforms ‘unsafe’ for LGBTQ users, report finds.

  9. Connor, I loved reading your paper. As a trans man it definitely spoke to me. I know that without trans influencers being outspoken and visible online, I would’ve had an even harder time coming to terms with my gender. I’d never heard of AJ Clementine prior to reading this though, I’m keen to take a look at her content on TikTok.

    I wrote on a similar topic if you want to take a look, my paper is about social media as a tool for community building among trans folk. Link below:

    1. Thanks so much, Silas.

      It warms my heart to know that my paper has connected with the trans population. Transgender media representation is oh so important in validating identities.

      Your paper is on my reading list! 🙂

  10. Connor, this is a fantastic paper, which both celebrates TikTok’s capacity for trans advocacy whilst also being mindful that TikTok can turn dark pretty swiftly, too. Great case study, good use of embedded media, really enjoyed reading this, thanks!

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my paper Tama! Yeah, I felt when I was writing the paper it was going to be a banging conference paper.

      I felt it was essential to address the dangers of TikTok, while it is doing so much good it is also doing a lot of harm. And I don’t know how far this harm is going to go until positive changes are enforced on the platform.

      Have an awesome day, Connor 🙂

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