Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Womens Studies

Major Professor

David Rubin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michelle Hughes-Miller, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kimberly Golombisky, Ph.D.


Black Trans Women, Cultural Politics, Toxic Femininity, Transmisogynoir, Transphobia


As the rate of the murder of Black trans women at the hands of Black cisgender men rises steadily every year (HRC, 2017), discourses regarding the detrimental impact of toxic masculinity within Black communities continue to increase within different branches of feminist literature. However, the role that Black cisgender women and toxic femininity play in the violent and systematic subjugation of Black trans women is largely ignored in feminist literature. In this thesis, I conduct a cultural analysis of the representations of the Black trans character Cotton Brown (from the Fox show Star) to examine how the show illustrates toxic femininity and complex intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Through a cultural analysis and review of current literature, I bridge the gap between the representation of cultural politics in Star, literature regarding the same cultural politics, and the realities of the lives of Black trans women in the United States. I argue that Black cisgender women and toxic femininity play significant roles in sociocultural understandings of sexuality and gender identity within Black American communities, as well as the facilitation of violent transphobia that specifically targets Black trans women.