Transgender YouTubers and YouTube’s Faulty Flagging System
About a year ago, YouTube introduced an optional “restricted” filter on their website to help younger viewers and their parents filter out “potentially objectionable” content, such as sex, drugs, violence, etc. This ended up, however, age restricting a lot of LGBT related content.
Though the issue was “fixed” not too long afterwards due to LGBT content creators and their fans and allies making noise about it, there is one glaring issue that still remains to be addressed- the system of age-restricting videos that are flagged by viewers. When videos are flagged as “inappropriate” or that they violate YouTube’s guidelines, LGBT creators, especially transgender creators, are most vulnerable to having videos age-restricted or even removed, due content that can be considered “sexual” or even “indoctrinating.”
For several months, this has been happening at a rapidly increasing pace to one YouTuber in particular. Chase Ross, otherwise known by his account name, uppercasechase1, a trans man who has documented his transition and life since 2010, has been receiving multiple emails almost daily letting him know yet another video has been age restricted. At first, it seemed to be his “unboxing” and reviews of things like STP’s (Stand-to-Pee), packers, and sex toys, as those could be seen as “sexual” content. But suddenly his videos that are transition-related are being age restricted, such as his top surgery reveal video. Even his older videos, including his most famous, “Shit Trans Guys Say,” was flagged and restricted recently.
Then, it got even worse. He received an email about a day ago saying a video had been removed and his account has received a “strike.” YouTube has a three-strikes-you’re-out policy. In other words, Chase risks losing his account if he receives two more, and the appeals to his strikes are denied.
This is a huge and serious problem, not just for Chase, but for transgender, non-binary, and gender-non-conforming people all over YouTube! As Chase had explained in a 22-minute video he posted, entitled, “My channel is going to be deleted…”, he uses his videos for educating other trans people and helping others find themselves.
“I have been on YouTube since I was 15. I am 27 years old. I’ve been around for a long time; I’m going on 12 years over here,” he says at about six and a half minutes into the video. “I have seen YouTube grow into this beautiful platform of education and community, especially for the trans community! We all found ourselves here!”
He is correct. YouTube has become an incredible source for those questioning their identity to find themselves and to share the experiences of transition, self-love, and life as someone trans/NB/GNC. From videos like surgery reveals, hormone injection experiences and how-to’s, ways to deal with transphobic families, and countless other topics, YouTube has allowed people who would otherwise find themselves alone to connect with each other, saving countless lives and helping people finding much-needed resources.
When his older videos, such as his afore mentioned 2012 video, “Shit Trans Guys Say,” were suddenly being flagged, the theory that it was a group personally attacking him began to float around among his fans. When I had reached out to Chase for comment via Instagram, he said, “I will say that there are these TERF moms on Twitter always coming for me. And I wouldn’t be surprised if it was them mass flagging. Like my shit trans guy(sic) say video was flagged and age restricted. Also I appealed it and it was denied.” He then sends me one of the screencaps of yet another email of a video being age-restricted just a few minutes later, saying, “And this just happened.”
(For those who are unaware, TERF stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist, who are cisgender women who exclude transgender people, mostly trans women, from any form of feminism, often attacking them for being transgender.)
In the video he posted informing his fans of what was happening, he mentions that a friend has sent him screencaps of a Facebook group posting about his videos and the associated comment thread where everyone in said group agreed to flag his videos. According to Chase, he is not alone in these types of attacks. Another FTM YouTuber, Ty Turner, also had videos flagged. (He however appealed the video that was taken down; one of him legally getting his testosterone prescription, and it was put back up and the strike removed.)
This is dangerous. YouTube needs to put serious effort into reforming their policy regarding what is considered “sexual” otherwise, they will be allowing transgender YouTubers to be silenced, and many others to lack important and life-saving resources. Since Chase and Ty are large names on YouTube, there is more attention drawn to them, but who’s to say the smaller channels won’t be attacked next? If Chase or any other victim of anti-transgender flagging attacks is removed from YouTube, do not be silent!
Listen to Chase talk about the situation: