A new campaign has set out to offer messages of support and reassurance to trans youth on social media, hoping to counteract the hostile and increasingly toxic amounts of anti-trans rhetoric online.
Using the hashtag “#Letters4TransKids“, trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming users, mostly on Twitter, have started sharing their stories hoping to support and inspire younger queer folk on the platform.
Social media can be a highly volatile and toxic environment at the best of times, particularly in recent months following a wave of anti-trans laws passing in different countries and with conservative politicians continually chucking around words like ‘groomer’ in relation to LGBTQ+ people who oppose said legislations.
Unsurprisingly and unavoidably, this
bullshit overt or subliminal prejudicial language from the top always trickles its way down through society, and the victims end up being, as we have witnessed , innocent LGBTQ+ people just trying to live with the same freedoms as everyone else.
A three-and-a-half-year study by anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label revealed that of the 10 million posts shared about transgender identity during the surveyed period, 1.5 million were transphobic in nature.
As a response to the onslaught of anti-trans rhetoric floating around online spaces, user @InaFried had a brilliant idea.
Fried, who currently works as Chief Technology Correspondent for Axios, shared her idea in a post which read, “It’s been a rough time for trans and nonbinary youth. I wanted to find a way to show them support and #letters4transkids was what I came up with. I hope you will join me by posting a message of encouragement to these amazing young people and tagging it #letters4transkids”
It’s been a rough time for trans and nonbinary youth. I wanted to find a way to show them support and #letters4transkids was what I came up with. I hope you will join me by posting a message of encouragement to these amazing young people and tagging it #letters4transkids (1/7) pic.twitter.com/vVAyd0nis1
— Ina Fried (@inafried) April 10, 2022
“This isn’t about wanting kids to be trans or nonbinary, or not,” Fried said in a Facebook post. “All I want for any kid is for them to have the space and support to be their fullest self, whoever that is.”
Ina kicked things off with her own post (below), then submissions began to role in from others. Trans actors, drag artists, filmmakers, and LGBT+ figures all lent their voices to the campaign too.
I know it can be hard some times — really hard. It’s tough enough to figure out who you are inside. And then you have figure out what to do with that knowledge and how to make your way in a world that isn’t always so kind. (3/7) #letters4transkids pic.twitter.com/v2zDSwBDTM
— Ina Fried (@inafried) April 10, 2022
In with the wave of replies (more at the bottom of this post) was Interim President of Human Rights Campaign, Joni Madison, who wrote:
Thank you, @inafried, for starting this beautiful campaign.
Here is my letter to every trans and non-binary kid out there today.
— Joni Madison (@HRC_President) April 15, 2022
So why has social media become such a shitty place for queer, mostly trans, users?
Be it Florida’s Don’t Say Gay law, Alabama making gender-affirming care a felony, anti-trans laws passing in Oklahoma and Arizona, the governor of Texas investigating parents of trans kids for “child abuse” for allowing their child access to gender-affirming care, or the UK excluding Trans people from a ban on conversion therapy (literally only a handful of examples from recent months)… it can often feel like an intimidatingly volatile time to openly voice support for LGBTQ+ rights and, whichever way you look at it, trans people particularly are under attack.
Then, of course, there’s the likes of JK Rowling, almost relentlessly spewing out unprovoked attacks and misinformation on trans people, fearmongering further discrimination and hate from those who pledge allegiance to the once-respected author.
The impact of social media ‘pile-ons’ and trolling by these so-called ‘gender critical’ Twitter accounts, much like the actions of any two-bit schoolyard bully, can have devastating consequences for the mental health of those on the receiving end of their abuse, which in this instance, is already vulnerable groups in society.
Thankfully, however, users like Fried are still active online, helping to ensure not all social media messaging young LGBTQ+ are exposed to is quite so awful.
Check out some other Letters4TransKids submissions below (you can also Email yours for posting by clicking here):
It feels a little dystopian. On one end we have the most representation we’ve ever had on film, tv, media… and in the other, thousands of bills threaten our very existence. This is a reminder of our power. And that we have each other 💙✨ #letters4transkids pic.twitter.com/DTp7zUMGO3
— Vico Ortiz (@V_Vico_Ortiz) April 12, 2022
History will look back on this ominous attack of transgender & non binary people as a very dark time. Hateful attacks on just normal people! This idea to help support the most targeted members, the youth, is so important. Please join in when you have time. #Letters4TransKids 🏳️⚧️ https://t.co/9dQaXz2tF5 pic.twitter.com/xv0v3ayDqA
— Kurtis Gabriel (@kurtisgabriel) April 11, 2022
It can be hard to be a kid! It can be scary to figure out how to be you when the world isn’t always so kind. But there are people–more than you know–who see you, support you, and want you to be the best you, whoever that turns out to be. #letters4transkids
— Jessica Rosenworcel (@JRosenworcel) April 10, 2022
Being young is tough. Some adults do things to score political points no matter who gets hurt.
It’s not about you. It’s about them.
You’re great. You’re allowed to be who you are. You’re loved.
They’re the ones who need to worry about who they are inside.#letters4transkids
— Dave Pell (@davepell) April 10, 2022
I didn’t come out to myself til I was 19. It occurs to me that if you already have the awareness you sre trans- that is a level of self-knowing that is at once terrifying… and hopeful. I admire it. #letters4transkids /1 pic.twitter.com/tyeB0O3Eok
— Alice Wu 伍思薇 (@thatalicewu) April 11, 2022
— Arthur Webber 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ (@BernieTranders) April 18, 2022
It’s been a hard time for trans & non-binary kids. 🏳️⚧️ Here’s a fantastic idea by @inafried. Let’s write youth letters so they know they are loved & affirmed, wherever they are. ❤️ #letters4transkids
Here’s mine: pic.twitter.com/1RTTRNiA4z
— Scott Hadland, MD (@DrScottHadland) April 11, 2022