Last month Facebook did it again, and removed Colorline’s post about Ines Rau, the transgender model featured here in a photo spread with Tyson Beckford because it “violated the site’s community standards.” The images are the product of a photo shoot for OOB Magazine’s “Tropical Surrealism” spread, photographed by Rodolpho Martinez.
Facebook’s definition of “displaying nudity” is vague, and not the central issue anyway. But, on its site titled Community Standardsit claims: “We also impose limitations on the display of nudity. We aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”
Both Ines and Tyler look gorgeaus, and (I would argue) Tyson Beck’s body DOES have the aesthetic qualities of Michelangelo’s David (take that Facebook!) but the central issue is not the nudity, it has more to do with the intolerance. Beck, has now collected sparking rumors about his sexuality after these images, and this ongoing censorship issue can be used to further the conversation about gender inequality. The question: what does this censorship say about how gender can or cannot be performed in the visual field?
Here we have Facebook, an hegemonic social media site with millions of viewers, removing an image of a transgender woman of color. Thus, the aesthetic of someone who does not conform to the normative idea of gender or whose gender is “vague” to mainstream audiences, is now left out of an immense social platform that could facilitate moderated discussions about beauty, gender, sexuality, aesthetics, photography, race, feminism etc. Sad.