When it comes to my transition, I love to brag that I did about 95 percent of it alone. That’s largely thanks to the Internet. I found a gender therapist by posting a question in an online forum, found an endocrinologist via Google, watched many videos about testosterone, top surgery, and other transition related things. I began documenting my transition on my YouTube channel. I also have connected with many others in a similar boat.
Now, what if neither I nor anyone else could access sources like that?
For those who are unaware, Net Neutrality is the name given to the order given in late 2010 by the Obama-era FCC (Federal Communications Commission) that declared no Internet Service Provider (ISP) could restrict Internet speed and access to any of their customers, and may not block websites, services, or applications. This was the result of over a decade of battles with ISP’s who tried to filter what they allow their customers to receive. Under this order, the Internet would become a fast, reliable, and open highway for everyone.
"IF THEY HAVE THEIR WAY IN THE END, ISP’S COULD BEGIN RESTRICTING ACCESS AND DISCRIMINATING AGAINST CUSTOMERS ON ANY GROUNDS.."
I’m sure by now, you’ve heard about the impending vote by Trump’s FCC to repeal the Net Neutrality laws. If they have their way in the end, ISP’s could begin restricting access and discriminating against customers on any grounds- those with lower income, those with different political or religious views, or yes- those who are LGBT- in the name of screwing with data that might be harmful to their business, censoring what they see as “controversial,” and of course, earning every dollar they can.
Since the Internet first began to become a commonly-used tool, people of different sexualities and genders have used it to connect with other LGBT folk around the world, find services, such as non-discriminating doctors, therapists, support groups, surgeons, suicide and crisis help, HIV testing and support, and others, or even just to share their experiences on forums like Reddit or YouTube.
"WITHOUT THE FREE AND OPEN INTERNET, WE LOSE THE ABILITY TO CONNECT TO OTHERS IN OUR COMMUNITY, SPEAK OUT AGAINST ISSUES, AND FIND THE MEANS OF TRANSITION."
Without the free and open Internet, we lose the ability to connect to others in our community, speak out against issues, and find the means of transition. We can’t find doctors to help with surgery and hormones, mental health services to guide us through transition, or even view YouTube videos related to being transgender.
Without clear and uncensored access to these sources, the LGBT community is inevitably erased.
I would say, “I don’t want to scare you”, but this should scare you. How can you help stop us from losing the open Internet? Contact your state’s representatives by phone and email immediately- if the FCC does decide to repeal Net Neutrality, Congress might be our only hope to stop it. You can also look up and ask around to find out where any public protests are being held. Let your voice be heard- Net Neutrality is crucial to us all!