Today we are going to take a brief look at what kind of advice is not allowed on online transgender forums. A 14 year old posts in AskTransgender, asking “Is this real?”
Hey guys, So, currently I identify as MtF. However, I keep thinking that I may not actually be, or that I am exaggerating, or that I simply want to be, so to not be “common”, or to be special/unique. I know it sounds silly, but I have OCPD, so these thoughts are constant 24/7, and I get very worried that I may not be trans. When I see a pretty girl, I wish I could look like her, not just be with her, and ever since I was a kid, I would often play online as a girl, and would Identify well with the character (not sure if relevant). It is getting annoying. I am 14 years old, and I don’t think I can get to a gender therapist soon. I don’t know what to do or think, as I have exaggerated “symptoms” before, and I also think I am a hypocondriac (not saying trans is an illness) which has lead me to believe I am gravely sick before, even though I am not, and I worry that this is what my mind is doing to me, any help?
There is a removed comment:
What did the deleted comment say? Must have been pretty bad, judging by the aggressive reactions, right? Luckily, since one of the replies mentions the username who made the deleted comment, it’s possible to find out. Clicking on the username of “pyre105” reveals the following comment:
So that was the comment, downvoted by other posters to -1, and then deleted. “Allow yourself to grow up as you are, away from labels and expectations. There’s really minimal difference between boys and girls in terms of personality, behavior, things we like, etc. Identifying with a girl character doesn’t make you a girl.”
These words were so offensive that the other commenters tell the author to “get the HELL away”, and that what they are doing is harmful, and then the comment is deleted. These are the words the posters on AskTransgender do not want 14 year old kids to read.
Meanwhile, comments urging them to obtain medications illegally, hide them from their parents, and go to the houses of 42 year old men, are not deleted. Food for thought for parents whose children are questioning their identities. Be extremely skeptical of the advice they are getting online.
Young people who for some reason feel dissatisfied with their sex often go to reddit’s various transgender communities to ask for advice.
A 14 year old kid asks for advice on twodifferent subreddits about how to talk to family members about gender issues and about medications like estrogen.
On one of the posts, an adult invites the 14 year old to take contact privately.
In the other post, concrete advice about how to obtain prescription medication illegally is given, complete with dosages:
Or how about this 13 year old, who writes:
Hello all, I’m thirteen today (yay!), and I’m kinda confused about my gender.
For my entire life, I’ve been happy with being a guy. I knew I didn’t fit in with other boys however, and surrounded myself with girls as my friends. I’m rather feminine, you can blame my sisters for that.
So, just turned 13, and is feminine boy.
About a year ago, thoughts passed through my head such as “if only I was a girl”. These thoughts were rare and I pushed them aside, not thinking anything of them. Roughly six months ago, I joined an online forum. I noticed that more than a few people were transgender. I knew what the term was before this, but, again, I didn’t think anything of it.
This story sounds familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention to the stories many newly trans teenagers post online. An intense period of bingeing on social media accounts of being trans leading to the teen suddenly identifying as trans themselves.
Two months ago, I started thinking about this. What if I was female? I liked the idea of it. I changed my gender on a few sites to female. One month ago, I started really reading up on it. I was a bit obsessed for one night, then I stopped thinking about it. Because I stopped thinking about it, I dismissed it again. Even though I thought I stopped thinking about it, three weeks ago I came out to my boyfriend, and then one week ago, my sister. They both took it very well. Last night, I was thinking and reading up on this like crazy, I was obsessed. I saw that most people realised at a young age, and so I thought I must be doing this for attention, or forcing myself to think this, or it might just be a phase which will go away.
I apologize in advance but I am desperate for insight and am feeling hopeless!! I’ve been considering if I’m a trans boy for the past two months (thinking about gender for almost a year) I am 14 and hopefully any of you can help.
It all started with my best friend and I talking about our characters (we dream of writing a series one day together haha) and I proposed if one of my characters was transgender and while exploring the character it was as if they way i saw them changed, that they were happier in the end and it was as if I was supposed to create them as a trans character to begin with (it’s strange and probably hard to understand)
After this I became uneasy, like something had shifted and when I asked my friends about my feelings they said maybe physiologically I identified as that character and was actually trans myself. This at first seemed unreal but also made sense in a away.
I have a obsessive personality and continued to research the hell out of the Internet, watched hours of youtube videos and began looking back at my self as I grew up. It seemed I was okay with being a girl as a child nothing really struck me as typical trans story of knowing at a young age(not trying to invalidate other people’s transitions whatsoever) but as a child I often enjoyed portraying the boys in pretend, years even. When I started puberty I became very insecure about my body (breasts and starting my period) I was always humiliated when people brought things even if it was my mom and it was just us. It seems I tolerate being a girl but I know I’m something other than that. Now more than ever I think about my gender for hours at a time, during school, while bathing and before I go to bed. I seem to be more comfy able with male clothes.
It’s again a similar story. Being obsessed with transition videos on YouTube. Feeling uncomfortable during puberty. Feeling more comfortable in “male” clothes.
Not a single person who replies to this child mentions that most of the experiences being described are 100% normal and common. Which young woman has not felt embarrassed about getting breasts and a period? Nobody tells this child that which clothes you wear don’t make you a man or a woman.
The poster goes on to post again a month later, still confused:
Need some insight. I’ve been wondering about my gender for a year questioning If I’m trans for 3 months and have been in gender limbo since. I’m a indecisive, awkward and sensitive person which I believe relates to the fact I can’t make a decision on who I am. I believe being on t would make me happy but I’m terrified of loosing hair and being overly hairy, im uncomfortable with my chest and hips as well. Im not very masuline but neither am i feminine, it’s hard for me to imagine myself as a woman in the future but a man just seems like a far off dream. I can’t seem to imagine myself with anyone or having children and I believe that may relate to my gender issues. I feel like a fake and a phony and am terrified of realizing this is a phase. I’m only 14 but I’ve been obsessively researched everything (hours and hours, while in bed, sitting in bath, during class) and am in this exhausting gray area where everything is awful and just ‘exploring’ my identity isn’t an option. Am I maybe in denial or just confused ? (I understand people can’t tell me exactly who I am but still) Please any advice would be lovely.
Teenagers have always been struggling to fit in, to figure out who they are, to label themselves. But it’s not until now that discovering your true self involves taking hormones and getting surgery. And it’s not until now that questioning whether it is wise for teens to be getting medication advice online is bigoted.
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.
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:
[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.
On reddit, a website where kids as young as 13 are allowed, and many are even younger, anonymous people, often adults, give minors tips on how to obtain prescription-only medication illegally, and hide it from their parents.
In this post, a 15 year old asks for advice, saying that “I have came out to my mom and she does not support me and thinks I should just stay how I was born.”
“Estradiol is pretty cheap,” chimes in a 44 year old adult, and provides a link to various online pharmacies where this medication can be bought. Estradiol is a medication that can increase your risk of blood clots, stroke, or heart attack, especially if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or triglycerides, if you smoke, or if you are overweight. It is also recommended to get blood tests and physical check-ups while taking this medication, none of which a 15 year old would necessarily have access to.
In this post, reddit users are giving tips to minors on how to hide from their parents that they are taking DIY hormones (“do it yourself”, meaning without a prescription) (archived post)
The advice comes complete with dosage advice.
In this post, a 16 year old is uncertain about starting hormones:
I am 16 and not getting any younger. I would rather get hormones sooner than later if I’m going to get them at all, and I don’t feel equipped to make that decision at 16. However, I am worried that I won’t be able to make the decision until post-puberty, which would be disadvantageous.
What is the way out of this dilemma?
One of the replies is this:
“Why would you not be equipped to make that decision at 16?” this poster asks, and continues:
Another poster chimes in:
Finally, the poster is convinced:
The commenters have successfully convinced this young teen to get anti-androgens. The most common one is spirolactone, which can have sideeffects like uneven heart rate, severe skin reactions, numbness, muscle weakness, vomiting, shallow breathing and confusion.
A young teenager tells the internet “how I knew I was trans”:
basically…it has to do with my coming out story…and…well…ever since I was a little kid I knew there was something different about me and I didn’t like doing all the stereotypical girl things that all my friends liked to do at the time. I…as soon as I was able to dress myself I…I started dressing from the guys department
my mom put me in ballet and I decided no I don’t wanna go to ballet, I’m gonna play in the mud and so yeah. I did sports as a little kid and I was really into that kind of stuff and I always thought that I’m eh…I’m different
I dressed like a guy every single day, I wore guy clothes, guy shoes, I did guy things, hung out with guys, um, everything that a little boy would do. My mom started getting mad, she told me I need to dress like a little girl and act like one too. And I was like “no mom I don’t like doing that and I never wore dresses and never wore a skirt, never wore heels. Graduation was a…graduation was horrible, I mean…dress shopping, it didn’t feel right!
halfway through sophomore year I was watching this video on YouTube of a boy and his transition, and I was like oh my god, this makes sense now
It’s a familiar story in many ways. A female child who does not like to do the things that society tells little girls that they should like. Parents who, as the kid grows older, to an increasing degree try to force the kid into this role they do not want. And finally, discovering YouTube and the many “transition videos” on it. Bingeing on these videos for a couple of weeks, and suddenly wanting to change their sex. These kids end up medical patients for the rest of their lives. They want to start taking testosterone. Ten, twenty years ago, finding yourself as a teen meant getting a tattoo of a Chinese character, maybe some piercings. For these kids, it means starting medical treatments that can make them sterile. After five years on testosterone, the cancer risk explodes and a complete hysterectomy is required. Quite the price to pay for wanting to escape the restrictive feminine gender role.
Several commenters have similar experiences to the young person in the video:
Where is feminism for these young women? Where are the role models that can show them how to be women without being “girly”?
A similar comment on a different video:
Again and again, we see this tale. Young women who dislike performing femininity discovering transition videos, and becoming transgender.
A slightly different story, told by Aydian Ethan Dowling, is seen in the video below. As a young girl, Dowling was not gender policed as heavily as many other aspiring transitioners.
Partial transcript, from around 8:15:
I didn’t know what transgender was. I didn’t know you could live that. Maybe if I knew that when I was younger, maybe I would have, um you know. Maybe I would have been more vocal about wanting to do that [transitioning], or maybe I would have known earlier that I wanted to do that. But I didn’t know I was transgender. I didn’t! I had no idea. Ah. Maybe if I lived in a house where…you know, I was being the girl, I was made to do dishes, or, or, clean, or cook, or you know, do my nails, or what, you know. I didn’t have those pressures of doing that.
So apparently, according to Aydian Dowling, if a girl is not trans, she’d be just fine with being made to do dishes, cook, and do her nails. And presumably, if Dowling had been made to do those things, then “maybe I would have known earlier”, to quote the video.
More and more young women are watching these videos on YouTube. Not just watching them, binge-watching them, and in a very short amount of time they decide that they are transgender. These are often troubled young women, trying to fit in in a society where the genders are becoming more and more separated by stereotypes. Many of them are having a difficult time coming to terms with themselves, with their bodies, with their sexuality. But the implications of the stories told in these videos is often sexist. These young women need other stories, other voices.
A young person talks about discovering their true nature as a boy:
Transcription, from 0:11 to 5:40
Today I’m going to be talking about how I knew I was trans. Probably back in the 3rd grade when I started realizing that I wasn’t like other girls. I just loved Pokemon, I loved Dragonball Z, I loved…I didn’t really like Dragonball Z. I liked the…Bayblades, I liked, you know, things like that. Things that you don’t find in the girl’s section of the toy store. Of course I didn’t know I was trans at that time, I just knew that I…didn’t like doing what other girls liked doing. I hated makeup. I hated pink. I hated dresses. I literally cried at my 8th grade graduation cause my mom forced me to wear a dress. I cried. Like full-blown, tears crying tantrum, I cried. Like, cried. There are several instances in my life that I’m looking back at now and actually cracking up about because it was so blatantly obvious, and no one in my family, no one at all really, knew what transgender was, so obviously no one could really put a term to it.
Liking Pokemon and Beyblades are now signs that a person born female is not really a female after all. Likewise hating pink and makeup. Notice how this young woman was policed into gender roles by her mother, forcing her to wear a dress to her graduation.
The video has many comments, including this comment by a 12 year old child:
My problem is I’m a girl but I don’t like it at all, I like to wear guy clothes like collar shirts or loose pants or the guys hip pants were there really loose. I can’t tell my family because they will think it just a fase or I’m just a tomboy. As of like you said, I don’t like to be indemnified as a girl, I want to known as a guy but I’m scared to talk to m ups rents about it cause I’m only 12 but Im really smart and I’m like an 15 year old. I don’t know what to do after and if I tell my parents about it, like will they take me to a doctor or something? Do I get surgery to get rid of chest? How did it work for you? Do u still have a female body or no? Please let me know as soon as possible, thanks: [redacted]
Wanting to wear collar shirts and loose pants: reason to have surgery to remove your chest.
Like the male child in this article, whose parents took him to multiple psychologists and therapists because he liked “girly” things:
Tru preferred playing with dolls rather than trucks and cars. There was a lot of role playing in female characters, dressing up as a fairy and pretending to have long hair.
Michelle and husband Garfield spoke to the preschool teacher about Tru’s behavior and were told at such a young age it’s not a flag for anything; kids are just curious and try things out.
“And then it progressed and kept getting stronger and stronger, and every chance she had to dress up she was wearing a dress and fairy wings,” says Michelle. “As soon as I got home, I would put on my favourite fairy wings, my favourite sparkly dress, my favourite wig,” Tru says.
“It’s acceptable for girls to be tomboys,” says Michelle. “Who wouldn’t want to be masculine and tough? But for boys to persist in [feminine] behavior, it usually is an indicator of something more.”
Or how about these siblings, who liked activities not stereotypically associated with their sex:
Beth and her husband Russ — who moved to Cincinnati when kids Russie and Aly were tiny — noticed their children were different from a young age.
At five, Russie liked to play dressing up with girls and Aly, three years younger, preferred to kick a football with the boys.
Or this individual, who felt like he needed “butt pads” to live as his “real me”:
When I was a child I played with Barbie dolls and all my friends were girls. I had an automatic bond with everything feminine and beautiful. We had a gorgeous long hallway and every chance I got I would take a few steps, kneel, and pull down my pants. One day when I was five, my mother noticed this and asked, “Why would you do that?” I couldn’t explain it and I was scared, knowing she was angry, so I kept quiet. “Never do that again,” she told me, and I never did. Later I realized that although I was doing it completely wrong, I was imitating a woman I had seen in a movie, curtsying down that hall.
For Halloween when I was 9, my sister dressed me up in an ugly green gown and grey wig. I felt like a beauty queen, walking up and down the street waving at every car that drove by. My mother couldn’t get me in the house, until she finally had enough. That day was the happiest day of my life until I was 22.
It was then I realized I couldn’t live the life others wanted me to live, and slowly begin transitioning. I threw away my boy clothes and gradually accumulated everything that I needed to feel like myself: nails, wigs, makeup, clothing, and even butt pads. I was living two lives, male by day, woman by night.
However, many transgender activists are quick to assure everyone that being trans has nothing at all to do with stereotypes.
As ever on reddit communities for transgendered people, young teens uncertain about themselves post, and these young teens are overwhelmingly told to start taking hormones in order to try to make their bodies resemble the oppsisite sex.
No, instead they tell him that his body is in prime shape for transition! Implied of course, that it will not stay in prime shape forever. The commenter also assures the child that since he has been uneasy with the start of puberty, he will surely keep being uncomfortable with it. As if being weirded out with the start of puberty is some sign of illness, instead of being a completely normal experience.
Another 15 year old wants to know how to go behind his parents’ backs and obtain prescription medications illegally.
Today my parents said some things that make me unable to come out to them. The problem is Im 15 and need thier consent for treatment.
How can I get hrt without my parents consent. I know diy is dangerous, but it isn’t a choice. It’s something I need to do. The thoughts of how I’m getting more masculine each day are eating me away on the inside.
So whats the safest way to diy. Also what dosege should I use.
Is waiting six months going to harm my transition in any significant way, or is it a good decision to just wait half a year?
And there are plenty of replies urging him to start as soon as possible.
Even though there are a few voices of dissent, the majority of the replies to these young teens tell them that they should look into hormones, and it is not difficult to get very concrete advice on how to obtain them, often illegally. Very rarely do the commenters talk about other possible explanations for the feelings these teens have.
I first came out in 2011 but being ‘trans’ still seems surreal to me. As a child I was mostly indifferent to gender and don’t think I understood it well, I climbed trees, played with chemistry sets and built things. The feelings began roughly after puberty, around 13, when I began developing breasts, hips and a menstrual cycle. It was at this point I was diagnosed with major depression and put on Prozac. I immediately noticed that the menstrual cycle felt un natural and it still does. I felt very uncomfortable having breasts and wore clothing to conceal them and my hips. I starved myself so that my figure was more boyish. I was jealous of guys, thinking I would feel so much happier in that body. Looking at my face, I felt extremely ugly. I felt like a dude in makeup with a face that was neither quite male or female. I also have no ‘maternal instinct’ whatsoever. I find babies sort of cute, but that’s it. I have no drive to reproduce.
My teenage years were depressing, mostly due to my distraction with my physical appearance and illness. I avoided mirrors like the plague. I also disliked my name because it’s super feminine, but feel better when people use the short form (which is masculine). I feel much more comfortable wearing clothes for men and not wearing makeup. In 2011 my GP dx’d me with GD but I still ask myself if I really am trans and I feel scared of what I’m going to do to myself. When I imagine my face and body looking masculine, I feel happier about it, and more confident. According to my digit ratios I was exposed to very high testosterone levels while I was developing as my ring finger is almost an inch longer than my index finger.
A young woman who has struggled with depression, eating disorders, and who dislikes gendered stereotypes and makeup. Conclusion: trans, must immediately undergo radical body modifications.
Some choice replies:
No one asks about her getting treatment for depression, or eating disorders. No one talks about how it’s possible to be a masculine woman, how it’s possible to prefer men’s clothing and no makeup even as a woman.
This is the state of many online transgendee communities. People, often adults, willing to give medical advice, telling teenagers and children that they should start this medical treatment as soon as possible, and that the consequences of not doing so is losing money, not being beautiful, having difficulties finding friends and partners. Telling them that hormones are magic pills. Never telling anyone to wait, to question their motives, to listen to their parents. It’s very frightening.