In 2021, 375 transgender people were murdered. The International Transgender Day of Remembrance has been observed annually on November 20th since 1999 and honors all those who have been killed due to hatred or transphobia. This day also brings important attention to the violence that has been committed against all those identifying as transgender.
Transgender youth have been extremely impactful in not only spreading awareness about the violence that their community faces, but sharing affirming resources and information. Social media has made it easier than ever before for this community to connect, but it also may come at a cost.
Why do Trans Youth Use Social Media?
Social media is everywhere, and almost all teens have some social media presence. From Instagram to Snapchat to Twitter to TikTok to BeReal, there are so many opportunities to share.
Many trans youth rely on social media to find a community that they may be missing at school or in their local area. They may feel alienated from cisgender students or don’t feel comfortable sharing struggles for fear that they will be bullied or won’t be understood.
75% of trans youth don’t feel safe at school and are more likely to miss school due to concerns for their own personal safety. Many gender non-conforming students are blocked from getting the same schooling experience as gender-conforming peers by the administration and teachers.
59% of trans youth have been denied using a restroom that aligns with their gender identity. Can you imagine going to school or work, and not being allowed to use the restroom? Not only that but being punished. Trans youth have been banned from going on field trips due to the way that they dress, taking away from their education and learning.
So why do trans youth use social media? To connect with others who are going through similar experiences, and share ways to advocate for their rights. Trans youth are using social media to spread resources and awareness within their community and with allies to help fight the transphobia that many faces every day, at school and at home.
Pros & Cons of the Online World for Trans Youth: A Double-Edged Sword
- Social Support
- Many trans youths use the online world as an exploration into the transgender community, and as a place to develop their own personal narratives. The online world can be a unique space where they are able to find affirming stories about coming out as genderqueer. Facebook groups allow trans youth to feel less alone and see the visibility that they may be missing from their day-to-day life.
- Access to Resources
- Instagram, YouTube, and Tik Tok are all spaces where information can quickly be spread and are accessible from all areas of the world. Trans youth are eager to share resources with their community, such as where to find gender-affirming clothes, great healthcare providers that are accepting of their transgender identity, or new studies about hormone blockers.
- 28% of trans youth have reported being bullied online. Unfortunately, most trans youths have been a victim of transphobia on their social media platform. One frightening story of transphobia includes a transgender man, Reese, sharing his pregnancy online, and receiving direct harassment during the happiest time of his life. Online users made upsetting memes and fake stories that villainized Reese.
- Anti-Transgender Microaggressions
- Many trans youth also experience microaggressions online, which have been proven to have an immense impact on trans youth’s mental health. These are small acts that display hostility against transgender people and minority people. This can include misusing pronouns and excluding trans youth from social media groups.
The Impact of Aggression and Cyberbullying on the Mental Health of Trans Youth
As referenced above, cyberbullying and aggression have a harmful impact on the mental health of trans youth. A recent study found that cyberbullying that transgender, non-binary, and gender-diverse people are one of the most victimized groups on social media. Those surveyed stated that most of the cyberbullying was done anonymously, and was both physically and sexually threatening. Cyberbullying has been linked to poor mental health and increased risk of suicide along with evoking negative emotions.
There is an essential need for you to support trans youth who are being bullied and speak out against those who are transphobic.
If you or someone else is experiencing transphobia online and having a mental health crisis, please call the Trevor Project’s crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline: 866-488-7386.
How to Support and Provide Resources for Trans Youth
Trans youth need your support.
Here are some recent laws and actions that are providing roadblocks for trans youth:
- Banning transgender women from female sports
- Making it illegal to take children out of state for treatment
- Investigating gender-affirming care as “child abuse”
- Books containing LGBTQIA+ characters and messages are being removed from school libraries
What can you do to support Trans Youth?
This fight seems big, but your support will make a difference. We can donate to transgender-supportive charities, we can speak up when hearing hate speech or misinformation about trans youth, and we can share transgender-affirming resources on social media. We can support transgender influencers on social media, and share their stories with others.
Here are some great transgender Instagram influencers to support and follow:
On TikTok, you can find tons of transgender-affirming videos and resources using the hashtag, #transaffirmation.
Let’s protect trans youth.
Glossary of Relevant Terms:
- A person whose gender identity does not align with the sex that there assigned at birth
- A person whose personal gender identity aligns with their birth sex
- Gender Identity
- A person’s sense of having a gender
- The sex assigned to a child at birth is usually assigned based on their anatomy
- Gender Non-Conforming
- A person whose gender expression does not match masculine or feminine norms
- Dislike and/or prejudice against transgender people
- Commonplace daily verbal or behavioral slights or indignities that display hostility towards marginalized and minoritized people
- A gender identity that falls outside of the gender binary (“male” or “female”)
- Acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual (the “plus” encompassing any and all other identities beyond those mentioned)
Written by: Bridget Brodlo, MA
At Clarity Clinic, we have highly trained staff who specialize in therapy and psychiatry services. To learn more about how we can support your mental health, call Clarity Clinic at (312) 815-9660 or schedule an appointment today.