“Do you feel uncomfortable with yourself in some way?”

Many young teens come to the realization that they are transgender through watching videos online, particularly on YouTube. There has been a dramatic increase in young people being referred for treatment because they are transgender. The increase is so large that many people, especially parents of young trans people, are beginning to ask the question if we are witnessing the phenomenon of social contagion.

Clinic sees 20-fold increase in referrals

Number of pediatric referrals quadruple

This graph comes from an article about the rise of gender identity related referrals in the UK:

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Source: The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

Many parents of young people tell similar stories about kids who go on YouTube binges, and end up identifying as transgender, and then go on to wanting to transition medically. This is especially common for girls. So what are they being told in these YouTube videos? Let us have a look at one example:

Partial transcript:

[1:09]: Do you feel uncomfortable with yourself in some way? (…) There must be some sort of discomfort with yourself currently. Look inside yourself and think about the times where you may have felt discomfort from hearing your birth name, from being referred as though your assigned sex, or simply feeling discomfort on wearing the clothes off your back. Those are just general examples but really look inside yourself and think back  on to the past of situations that really should have been taken as no big deal but they were taken as such and you never really knew why.

[1:42]: Have you tried experimenting outside your assigned sex? Maybe if you have an inkling that you’re trans, but you don’t know where to go from here. Try experimenting by wearing things that are not typical of your assigned sex, you know like wear T-shirts if you’ve been used to wearing dresses or something like that. (…)

[3:43]: Have you seen or are familiar with other stories of transgender people? If (…) you’re still somewhat on the fence, ah, I would definitely check out some other people’s narratives or stories, and find if you’re, if there are some that are relatable to you. Find like you identify, or you’re finding like, similar struggles with other people who are going through somewhat the same, similar struggles as you. (…) They will definitely  be helpful to you, to help you figure out whether or not you are trans

There are three points about this video that should give you pause. One, viewers are urged to comb through their memories for any discomfort they recollect, and such memories are to be taken as signs of trans-ness. No other options are even acknowledged. Two, superficial preferences like clothing are taken as proof of trans-ness. Feeling comfortable in a T-shirt is a diagnostic sign. Three, the viewer is encouraged to delve into the stories of  people with “similar struggles” to find experiences that are similar to their own. The video goes on to mention the video blogs of other trans people. This means that the viewer is encouraged to seek only confirming evidence. What if there are stories by people who felt the same way but were not actually trans? Such people certainly exist, as seen here, here and here (just a few examples), but these stories never come up in the types of videos shown here.

These YouTubers are giving young people bad advice. They mean well, but the results have chilling consequences when young people go on to medically transition based on the type of advice presented here.

5 thoughts on ““Do you feel uncomfortable with yourself in some way?”

  1. This is super disturbing if one knows anything about the science of how memory works. Our memories are not incorruptible video files, they are mash-ups. Each time a person recalls a memory, information learned later and things other people said about the event influence the memory. In addition, the mood one is in at the time of recalling the incident affects the memory. If you’re sad, you will view the event you’re recalling as being sad – perhaps much sadder than you actually were at the time the event happened.

    Just asking a person to rummage around his or her memory to come up with something to support the idea the person “might” be trans is setting the person up to reach the conclusion the video-maker – and so many other trans activists want these people to reach. I think this is why the trans activists are so set on not having skeptical input parents, friends, teachers who knew the person before the person got involved with trans stuff – reminding the person that the event was not as sad as currently being framed, that the playing-with-toy-cars incident including Barbie riding in the front seat, or that the kid used to want to be other things might interfere with the process of re-molding the memory to conform to the trans story line.

    Liked by 4 people

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