“Alexa, Who is TS Madison?”: Black Trans Femininity and Audience Engagement with Maddie in the Morning

This paper discusses how digitally mediated environments help marginalized people critique hegemonic racial, gender, and sexuality ideologies through an examination of audience responses to identity-focused media content and media representation patterns. Specifically, I ask: in what ways do digital media platforms led by Black transgender and Black gay people articulate new understandings of race, gender, and sexuality that challenge and resist dominant white, cisgender, heterosexual norms? This chapter emphasizes intersectional identities among digital media content providers, particularly those that espouse progressive Black sexual politics and gender ideology. Additionally, it examines how these cultural creators use digital platforms to fight racism, heterosexism, and cisgenderism and create a more inclusive digital society. In particular, I analyze the themes and audience interaction within the YouTube series Maddie in the Morning hosted by Madison Hinton, a Black transgender woman who went from internet celebrity to TV and film star. This research examines how Hinton opposes hegemonic gender conceptions and promotes a progressive dialogue around racial, gender, and sexual identity through her videos and comments. Based on this analysis, I first create a typology of rhetorical tactics used by digital media content makers to challenge and dismantle racial, gender, and sexuality norms. Second, I study how digital media content providers and their consumers interact, particularly with comments, to develop new insights into race, gender, and sexuality. I conclude that digital media platforms both oppose and reinforce the persistent exclusion of Black transgender and Black homosexual people from the mediascape, focusing on cinema and television. Therefore, the findings show that Madison Hinton’s Maddie in the Morning series transforms race, gender, and sexuality narratives and highlights the power of digital media to empower Black transgender and gay voices, providing new ways to resist systemic oppression and exclusion in media landscapes.


Melissa Brown

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Digital Humanities Tilburg