Is It Fair to Expect Social Responsibility From a Trans YouTube Star Like Gigi Gorgeous?
The past few weeks, YouTube star Gigi Gorgeous has come under fire by fans and followers for some of her posts on social media.
First she published a video in which many thought the famed trans YouTuber was acting insensitive. In the video, Gigi Gorgeous challenged herself to wear nothing but Walmart for an entire week.
Many felt she was mocking those who have to shop at Walmart, particularly when at one point she said “Beggars can’t be choosers” when she couldn’t find a pencil skirt in her size.
At press time, that video had 21,000 likes with 20,000 dislikes.
“Does she know that people live off Walmart clothes?” one fan commented. “Not everyone has money to buy really nice clothes. As a person [with] a mom who can barely pay rent, I don’t have a lot of nice clothes. I basically live in joggers and a T-shirt.”
Another commenter added, “I hope you donate those clothes along with some cash to homeless shelters and don’t just throw it away. I cannot believe you are this person. I am gone and you are over. You need Jesus huntie.”
Then, last week, Gorgeous posted a photo of herself and girlfriend Nats Getty holding a baby with a caption thanking her surrogate. Many media outlets, including us, published this as fact. Gorgeous let people believe that lie until a few days later when she released a video clarifying her statements.
In the video, Gorgeous and her girlfriend giggle while trying to explain their post, which made no real sense. Her fans quickly called this out, too.
One commented, “I feel bad for anyone who is struggling to get pregnant, hope they don’t have to sit through this BS. Gigi, what happened to you?? I used to love your vids so much. Since this new relationship your vids have changed so so much. … Please read these comments and listen to the people that got to you to where you are today, your fans.”
Another added, “The caption literally read ‘thank you so much to our beautiful surrogate’ … people didn’t assume, you just told everyone a lie for publicity.”
That video as of press time has garnered 17,000 likes and 19,000 dislikes.
Does Gigi Gorgeous bear responsibility as a trans person with notoriety?
Gigi Gorgeous is probably one of the most famous transgender people in the world. With almost 3 million YouTube subscribers, she was placed on Time magazine’s list of the 25 most influential people on the internet in June 2017.
We asked trans activist and advocate Deja Lynn Alvarez from Philadelphia what she thinks about the videos, and whether she feels Gorgeous is using her platform in a productive way.
“Well, why are people surprised?” Alvarez says. “She’s gotten noticed for being shallow and unaware. It’s her persona. It’s definitely insensitive, but has anyone come to expect sensitivity or awareness and advocacy from her?”
“I never try to down another girl or knock her hustle,” she says. “I think she’s using her platform to get ahead, get some notoriety, maybe make some money. I don’t blame her for that. I don’t think we can categorize her as an advocate or activist. Nor do I see her claiming herself to be an activist.”
Regarding the pregnancy post, Alvarez says, “It’s all a tactic to get attention. It’s working, but it’s extremely insensitive to use babies or pregnancy — especially as a trans person, because that is such a sensitive topic for so many trans people.”
“Her persona is a ditzy blonde who has led a charmed life, never even going in a Walmart,” she says. “Can we truly expect social responsibility from her?”
As transgender people and their plight are becoming much more visible, we ask Alvarez if she thinks there’s a responsibility for people like Gorgeous and Caitlyn Jenner — those trans individuals with notoriety behind their names.
“It’s a good question with no right answer,” Alvarez articulates. “But I think they are two very different circumstances. Caitlyn chose to be an advocate and use her platform; she just fell short. With Gigi, I don’t feel like she chose to use her platform for advocacy.
“However, I think any trans person who does get a platform bears some responsibility to the community. I also don’t think it’s fair to expect everyone to do what we think they should or bash them and penalize them when they don’t do what we think they should.”
Alvarez concludes, “Of course, [lying] is crossing a line, so to speak. Gigi Gorgeous should make more of an effort to be more sensitive and understanding of the community she is actually representing.”