British Columbia

B.C. trangender woman challenges social media censorship with topless photos

Courtney Demone is capturing her transition with topless photos to see how long it will take before social media companies decide to censor her.

Courtney Demone is pushing companies like Facebook and Instagram to #freethenipple

Victoria resident Courtney Demone, a transgender woman, is capturing her transition with topless photos to see how long it will take before social media companies decide to censor her. (Rivkah Photography)

A transgender woman from Victoria, B.C. is testing the boundaries of social media censorship with a photo experiment showing topless photos of her transition.

Courtney Demone has only been on hormone replacement therapy for the past several months and her breasts haven't fully developed yet so she's been able to share topless photos of herself on social media. 

But, by next year, she'll have developed her female physique and she's waiting to see when her body will be "sexualised enough" to be censored.

Her online experiment — documenting her transition topless — will push the boundaries of companies, like Facebook and Instagram, which only allow photos of men's exposed nipples. 

Transgender woman Courtney Demone says since she's embraced her femininity, she's been subjected to unwelcome attention she never experienced as a man. (Rivkah Photography)

Demone wants her project to become a "conversation starter" about the double standard women face in society. 

"I just want people to start thinking about gender privilege — about how society treats women and men differently and I think this is a cool way to start that conversation," said Demone.

The writer has been sharing her journey on a weekly basis online both in print with fellow co-author Cynthia Williams and through visuals using the tags #DoIHaveBoobsNow and #FreeAllBodies.

In an interview with CBC, she recalled how embracing her femininity has led to unwelcome attention. She felt the "privileges" she once held as a man start to erode.

"As a woman I get harassed on the street a lot more ... there's a lot more people willing to comment on my appearance and make suggestions towards my appearance," said Demone. "That didn't really happen when I was read as a man."

Celebrities like Miley Cyrus, and models Cara Delevigne and Chrissy Teigen have routinely spoken out about the double standard when it comes women's bodies through the online campaign #freethenipple.

Demone, though, wants to take that a step further and open the discussion to women and transgender men who don't have a stereotypical female body. 

As Demone's project picks up steam, she knows she will stimulate more conversation but remains cautiously optimistic about changing the landscape of social media.

"It would be cool if changes to Facebook and Instagram's policies happen but I don't have any illusions that we're going to be big enough to actually poke the bear in that situation."