An Open Letter to the Trans YouTube Community

Thank you for not being afraid to show the world, to show me, that there are others out there who know what this life is like. - Finley McElwany

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Chase Ross

I’ve been out as a transgender male for the past two years. I came out to my friends and family about a few months after I realized there was a word that described exactly how I felt about myself and my body. Luckily for me, everyone was very accepting and I had the love and support I needed to start my medical transition, to find the confidence to ask people to call me by my chosen name instead of my birth name, and to start using he/him pronouns. While I’m incredibly grateful that my closest friends and family have shown me nothing but love and support I’ve always felt a sort of emptiness because I don’t have any transgender friends and I don’t even personally know any transgender people.

About two years ago I was twenty five and starting to really come to terms with the fact that the word “lesbian” felt so wrong to me, at least when being used to describe me. In fact using the word “girl”, being referred to as she/her/daughter/sister/niece, it all felt wrong. I hated any situation where someone would have to use any one of those things to describe me. I felt, overall, very uncomfortable. It almost made my skin crawl. I was confused, a little scared, and worried that I would feel this way forever. Eventually, and I’m not even sure how I came across the channel, somehow I found the YouTuber uppercaseCHASE1. I’m sure many of you are familiar with Chase Ross.

Chase Ross was my first real connection to the trans community. The first video I ever watched by him was one called “FTM- what is dysphoria.” I remember getting to the end of the video and thinking this is it, this is what I’ve been feeling. This person literally just put into words everything I have been struggling to understand. I went back to the beginning of his channel, which if you’ve been watching him for a while you know he’s got a lot of videos, and I watched everything. I had finally found something that described how I felt about my body and my identity. From there it just snow balled. I found so many more channels to watch. Malcolm Ribot, Aydian Dowling, Skylar Kergil, Ty Turner, Alex Bertie, and a few others who may not be so well known.

I subscribed, I watched, and I learned from them. Every day I was checking to see if someone posted a new testosterone update, a new video on top surgery, an update on mental health, or even just an update about their life. This was my only connection to people who felt the same way I did, my only outlet where I could go and relate to someone who was going through what I was. These guys would post videos of their experience with awkward family encounters, coming out of work, coming out at work, binding, dealing with top/bottom dysphoria, packers, changing their name, changing their gender marker, surgery; you name it, someone has talked about it on YouTube.

I had felt so alone for the longest time. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my cisgender friends, my family, and my wonderful fiancé who validates me every day without even trying to. I have always felt loved and supported by them. But they couldn’t relate to me the way I needed someone to relate to. They could never understand what it’s like to wake up every day and live in a body that doesn’t match who you are. But as silly as it may sound, having these people on YouTube in my life, even just through a screen for a few minutes a day, helped me to not feel so alone. I felt like they were talking to me, like we were having a real conversation about what it’s like to go through life being trans. I felt like I belonged to an actual community.

So really, I just want to say thank you. Thank you to all the trans people on YouTube who put their personal lives, their feelings, their fears, their good times and bad times out there for people like me to see. Thank you for taking time out of your day to talk to a camera and to record, edit, and post it. Thank you for not being afraid to show the world, to show me, that there are others out there who know what this life is like. Thank you for sharing the struggles that are small, like the packer that just won’t sit right in your pants, to the struggles that are big, like being misgendered or unaccpeted. Thank you for celebrating your triumphs, like that first shot of testosterone or being called sir by someone you don’t know. I know that sometimes you probably get hate in the comments of your videos, but for every hateful comment I hope you know that there are twenty more people like me who need you. Who need someone to be brave and talk about those struggles and triumphs that we face every day. To make them feel like they are not alone. You will never understand the impact you have made on my life. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Finley McElwany
Houston, Tx.