For this portion of research I used a specific scholarly article regarding the relationship between trans people and YouTube as a media platform for them to document their experiences. The article “Trans On YouTube: Intimacy, Visibility, Temporality” by Linda Horvak takes a deeper look at the ways in which YouTube has been utilized by member’s of the trans community.
Whether it’s a video journal documenting an individual’s transition or a trans personality, beauty and fashion vlogger like Gigi Gorgeous, who has nearly 2,500,000 subscribers on the video sharing platform, YouTube has provided a conduit for trans people to open up and share their experiences to trans- and cis-viewers alike.
Documentaries and news segments will bring on “experts” who are not trans and have no real first-hand experience with the transgender people to frame the community. More often than not these stories are blatantly one-dimensional – or worse – they work to perpetuate stereotypes like that most trans women are sex workers or that trans women of color are violent or that they are simply freaks. In constrast, YouTube has empowered this consistently marginalized group by giving them the ability to shape their own narratives. YouTube has also played a significant role in showing via the abundance of videos about transition, that not all trans people are like – a fallacy that leads to misinformation with respect to the trans community.
“YouTube’s predilection for personal and the spectacular have made it a powerful tool for some trans people to construct the ways that their bodies are looked at and heard – and to connect geographically disparate people in intimate ways. To put it bluntly, these videos save trans lives,” (Horvak 581).
In addition to providing a support system and inclusive forum for trans individuals on the Internet these vloggers and their videos tackle the “social othering” that the trans community is constantly plagued with. Rather than an us against them mentality of cis v. trans: “the YouTube talking head brings trans individuals close to the viewer [regardless of cis/trans], both in seeming physical proximity and feelings of intimacy,” (Horvak 576). In doing so, trans vloggers are breaking down their own otherness. Perhaps a cis viewer has never met a trans person, or spoken to a trans person and likewise perhaps a trans viewer has never met or heard about another trans person’s experience. These videos, though mediated are a sort of conversation between trans vloggers and their viewers. Their channels are a way to provide and gain understanding.
Linda Horvak – Trans On YouTube: Intimacy, Visibility, Temporality