Watch This, Not That: Thoughts From A Trans Teen On YouTube

Watch This, Not That: Thoughts From A Trans Teen On YouTube July 20, 2017
Staring into discovery
“Staring Into Discovery”
by Pat Green

“Eat This, Not That” would tell you about a food item and suggest an alternate. My son suggested I offer an opportunity for people to watch this, not that. This is in regard to my Laci Green article and youtube.

In 2006 I had a heart attack. I weighed over 250 pounds back then. When I was released from the hospital I had to change my diet drastically. I was having a conversation with an old friend from high school about it. She recommended an article from Men’s Health Magazine titled “Eat This, Not That” to help in my weight loss efforts. Each issue would tell you about a food item and suggest an alternate that has similar flavor and more health benefits. My son suggested I so the same regarding youtube channels.

The reason I wrote the piece on Laci was because one night I overheard a Skype conversation with my son and his friends. He has a network of dear friends across the nation that are trans and non binary. One was very upset because they had expressed concerns about some of the things Laci said about gender on twitter. They did not accuse her of being a TERF or any other such thing, they just expressed disagreement. The response from Laci fans was vitriolic and accused them of being part of a smear campaign. Then some went into trans antagonistic insults and even a suggestion to kill oneself.

It was that last one that got me. I have seen people say that to my kid on tumblr and other social media spaces when he says he is trans. He’s lost three friends to suicide who are trans since coming out. I know of at least two others that were hospitalized for suicidal gestures. Some say that when I bring up this aspect I’m engaging in hyperbole. No, it’s statistically a valid fear. Now, know that they are not sensitive little snowflakes. Your average trans teen exhibits great courage just being themselves. That said, I was more reactionary than I ought to have been on social media.

I wanted to give a helpful guide of things to keep in mind when talking about those in the LGBTQIA community. I was met with accusations of being an SJW trying to censor speech, party to a campaign to destroy her career and other interesting things that have made logging on to the computer less fun. There were also some hard and valid questions and vigorous disagreement with my statements. The latter was welcome because I am certainly not always right about all matters.

The thing that I do find interesting is that, overall, I have had a lot of supportive comments from trans teens and adults regarding the blog post. I have also had parents of trans teens express support while the most vigorous critiques and accusations have come from cis gender straight people.

There was one message I received from a blogger and magazine columnist that I really appreciated. She is a mom of a trans youth as well. There are several of us out there writing and blogging from this parental perspective. Anyway, she sent me this (I am leaving her name out to keep her out of the fray of some of the ugliness):

I saw your comment about getting slammed…I saw the comments on your post
I just wanted to say, we’ve all been there.
I think you’re brave for reading and responding to all of those comments… I never do.
I want to say a thing without offending you, but I’m not sure I can…it was a lesson that took me a bit to learn.
Sometimes when we come from a place of privilege, we expect those that we are speaking up for to be grateful. And it feels a bit like betrayal, when they turn on us.
I don’t know the circumstances of what hurt your son, but I do wonder if you tried reaching out to Laci privately first, to address that hurt. Your post would be just as powerful, without tearing her message down in the process.
I don’t watch or follow Laci, so I know very little about her and her message, only what I’ve read in your post and in the comments.
Anyway, neither thought, about your privilege, or possibly how you could have reached out to Laci to address your child’s hurt, is meant as anything other than my thoughts and opinions, and I hope you know they’re not meant to offend or judge. I love what you’re doing and that post is STILL a powerful, POWERFUL message that needs to be said.
She did not offend me and actually had some helpful suggestions. There are quite a few things I wished I had done differently in that post and in some ways, I wished I had never written it. A few hours later, the same blogger sent me this:
After reading more about this Laci Green…you lost friends over this? I can’t understand this at all…the comments you got…totally unwarranted.
This woman is bad news, so disregard any suggestions about reaching out to her first.
This was a turning point for me emotionally. The reasons I had never wished I had written the piece was because of the personal heat I was facing, but there were people deeply appreciative of what I wrote. There were things I said on social media I should not have. There were better ways I could have expressed my thoughts so as to appear less dogmatic. I cannot take my words and actions back. Like any of us, all I can do is own them, learn from them, and move on.
Before I move on, I want to provide one last thing. It is something that my son asked to do. At the age of 17 he is already a popular blogger in his own right with “Possum of the Day”.  He’s also one of the co founders and facilitators of an online discussion support platform for trans teens. I have written about the support platform before. He has also guest written on Transparent Expedition in the past.  He pointed out to me that all I did was stand in front of a resource and say, rightfully, this is not good for you. But while doing that there was no alternative offered that does effectively what she does poorly. He asked if he could speak his mind on the matter on my platform. So here are his thoughts:
I think what angers me the most about the Laci Green situation is not the concept of what she’s doing in and of itself, but the execution. Green is operating under the guise that she is ‘having a conversation’ about trans issues. This concept alone is fine, but the execution is horrendous. Green seems to be gaining mainly the perspectives of anti-trans/non-binary individuals. She’s not talking to any trans or non-binary people. Hell, she isn’t even talking to a scientist who is knowledgeable about gender studies like we have about my transition. By only gaining one side of the issue, she defeats the purpose of her desired “conversation” regarding gender identity. Rather, she contributes, knowingly or unknowingly, to a rhetoric spewed frequently by cisgender, hetero individuals that trans people are intolerant and simply “need to listen to the other side.” This type of thinking breeds intolerance. If you’re looking for a content creator who actually understands something about trans and non-binary experiences, look up Ash Hardell, Stef Sanjati, or skylarkeleven on YouTube. These are just a couple that I personally enjoy. There are many other trans and nonbinary YouTubers out there.
I have learned a lot from the new “enemies” I have made. There’s been a loss of a few friends. One of those friends had some valid criticisms of how I could have expressed myself differently. In other words, I have learned. For all the vitriol I am facing, I know that Laci has faced it even stronger. I hope she learns too. I also hope that the people who make death threats to her back off as I wish they would leave my son and his friends alone. In the meantime, feel free to check out the youtube channels my son suggested. I have, they are wonderful and engaging and welcoming to conversation.
As always, thank you for reading as I sometimes step into the right side of wrong.
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