LGBTQ+ youth may find valuable resources online for exploration. However, recent reports have shown that social media platforms need to do much more to protect young LGBTQ+ people from being exposed to any harmful content.
Pew Research discovered that more than 93% of adults in the United States use the internet and 95% of children and teens ages 3 to 18. In addition, LGBTQ+ youth spend an average of 45 minutes more per day online than their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts.
For LGBTQ+ youth looking for other peers with shared identities, finding them online can be a good source. They can find affirming support and a non-judgmental environment.
On the other hand, LGBTQ+ youth can be targeted for online bullying due to their identities. In addition, LGBTQ+ youth can be exposed to negative messaging. There’s no doubt that these youth need to have a safe experience while they are navigating the internet.
This article will explore why trans youth use social media, the pros, and cons, and provide some resources for LGBTQ+ youth on where they can find affirming content.
Why do LGBTQ+ Youth Use Social Media?
Social media is very popular amongst teens, and many have some social media presence. Many trans or LGBTQ+ youth on social media can find a community they may otherwise not have, depending on where they live.
Being on social media and having other allies or friends can help them feel less alienated and put them less at risk for bullying.
According to recent statistics, 75% of trans youth feel unsafe at school. In fact, much trans youth may miss school to feel safer. Many LGBTQ+ students do not have the same experience as gender-conforming peers regarding treatment from the administration and teachers.
In addition, 59% of trans youth have been denied using a restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. In addition, trans youth have been banned from going on field trips because of their appearance, which can negatively impact their education and learning.
LGBTQ+ people use social media to connect with others who are going through similar situations and advocate for their rights. In addition, trans youth are using social media to share resources and awareness within their community. This information can also be helpful to allies that can help them fight transphobia in their everyday lives at school and home.
Pros & Cons for LGBTQ+ Youth Using Social Media
Finding Social Support
Many trans or LGBTQ+ young people go online to explore different communities. It can also be a place where they can learn more about themselves.
Finding Access to Resources
Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok all contain information that is accessible worldwide. Much trans youth have been known to share their knowledge within the community; for example, where to find gender-affirming clothing, access the proper healthcare, and more.
Being exposed to Cyberbullying
Unfortunately, 28% of trans youth have reported being bullied online. Transphobia on social media is still happening, and many LGBTQ+ folks can be exposed to harassment and cyberbullying.
Encountering Anti-Transgender Microaggressions
Many trans and LGBTQ+ youth may encounter microaggressions online, which can negatively impact their mental health. Microaggressions are small gestures that express hostility against marginalized groups—for example, misusing a person’s pronouns.
Affirming and Toxic Groups on Subreddits for LGBTQ+ Youth
Note: On any platform where most users are anonymous, it is essential to protect your identity.
Here are mainly some positive/affirming Subreddits:
- r/transgender (general news)
- r/asktransgender (Q&A’s)
- r/transpositive (uplifting stories or commentary)
- r/transtimelines (transition results)
- r/Transgender_Surgeries (surgical results)
- r/MtF (transfeminine topics)
- r/ftm (transmasculine topics)
- r/TransSpace (general news)
- r/traaaaaaannnnnnnnnns (funny content)
- r/genderfluid (genderfluid content)
- r/nonbinary (nonbinary content)
The following are some toxic groups:
- r/actualwomen (banned on Reddit)
- r/Ask_Radical_Feminists (a private group)
- r/cisprivilegeisalie (banned)
- r/GCdebatesQT (banned)
- r/GenderCritical (banned)
- r/GenderCriticalGuys (banned)
- r/GenderCynicalCritical (banned)
- r/goodnewsforwomen (private)
- r/MenWinningWomensSport (banned)
- r/NeovaginaDisasters (banned)
- r/RadFemMothering (private)
- r/Radical_Feminists (private)
- r/reconcilingwomyn (inactive since 2018)
- r/terfisaslur (banned)
- r/transgenderkids (banned)
- r/TrollGC (banned)
- r/WomensHerstory (private)
Gender-focused servers on Discord
Here are some gender-focused servers that came from suggestions via disboard (disboard.org)
Transgender Facebook groups
- The Facebook Transgender Alliance
- International Transgender Health
- FFS Facial Feminization Surgery / Transgender
- Transgender Support Circle
- Transgender/parents/family support group
- Parents of Transgender Children
- That Transgender Social Group
In Summary: Social Media and LGBTQ+ Youth
Young people start using the internet as early as three years old. As they age, more time is spent on smartphones and popular social media apps. Connecting with like-minded friends online is essential for LGBTQ+ youth. According to statistics, 50% of LGBTQ+ youth have at minimum one close online friend, compared to 19% of non-LGBTQ+ young people. In addition, LGBTQ+ youth may seek out resources and stories online to learn more about their thoughts and feelings, especially regarding their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Promoting LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the classroom and sexual health education is of the utmost importance. Still, online spaces provide LGBTQ+ youth with the opportunity to have privacy to explore their feelings and thoughts. In addition, social media and other online resources can provide helpful information on topics like coming out, positive mental health support, navigating relationships, or gender identity.