Now that I’ve talked and talked and talked about objectivity and social media and theoretical notions of genderqueerness and what all those things MEAN?!!!??, I suppose it’s time to dive into some analysis, wouldn’t you say? I want to start by talking about a certain article that was posted on Salon.com back in February of this year. The article is entitled “Trans Teens Turn to YouTube” and it was written by Tracy Clark Florey, Salon’s in-house sex and relationships writer. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been following tons of trans* folks on YouTube for…forever. (And by forever, what I mean is approximately 3 years) So naturally, when this article was shared by one of my Facebook friends a while back, I was intrigued and skeptical. I’m used to seeing ignorant, insensitive headlines like “Transgender Teens: Girls will be Boys” or “Transgender Teenager Prostitutes to Raise Cash for Surgery to Look Female.” Really? I mean, really?
To my surprise and delight, Clark-Florey treats the experiences of the teens featured in her article with respect and touches honestly upon the very phenomenon that interests me–trans* teens turning to YouTube for advice and community! She describes the experience of Natalie, a 17-year-old girl from New York who uses YouTube to document her transition, reach out to other folks of similar experience, and provide hope to others who might be seeking solidarity. Natalie says:
“When I was just coming out as transgender, I needed somewhere to show me that being me is OK, and that being different is a good thing…I found that YouTube was really where I belonged, and that the Internet will always be my home.”
Natalie discovered a reflection of her experience on Youtube and decided to give back by providing that example to other youth. The best part about this, to me, is that it’s not an isolated example. Em Korczak, a vlogger I’ve been following myself for some time now, posted a video back in 2011 in which Em described all the positive things about being trans*. Em said:
“I used to be all insecure and stuff, obviously, and there were a couple of people on YouTube who were just themselves and I was like, ‘You know what? Fuck! Cuz these guys are awesome and I wanna be myself. Because they’re not doing too bad and maybe it’s okay to be me!’ And so if I can pass that liberating, wonderful feeling on to someone else…then that’s fantastic.”
Vloggers like Em and Natalie and so many others are contributing to a movement that is changing the way trans* and genderqueer people access information and come to define and embody their own identities. Em, if you’re reading this–you passed that feeling on to me.
Clark-Flory, Tracy. “Trans Teens Turn to Youtube.” Salon.com. 25 Feb. 2012. Web. 19 Mar. 2012. <http://www.salon.com/2012/02/26/trans_teens_turn_to_youtube/>.