Social media has many benefits – it allows us to keep in touch with people when face to face contact is not possible, to get an instant update on what is going on, and to stream church services on platforms like YouTube and hold Bible studies and prayer meetings by using apps such as Zoom.
Male and female
In a previous article, we looked at what it means to be male and female and how our views on that are influenced by various different means, one of which is social media. In our society, social media has a huge influence, and when we look at a topic on social media, the site will then suggest other related items that we might be interested in. This can be a good thing and lead us to helpful and interesting content, but it can also be unhelpful in that it can lead us to see only one perspective on an issue and never see an alternative view.
When we look at social media, we only see what others want us to see. We see Instagram posts and YouTube videos of people with ‘perfect’ bodies, make up tutorials, gym workouts, etc that make us think that we have to look, or behave in, a certain way. We may feel pressured into needing to look like the ‘perfect’ man or woman. Others may feel that they don’t fit into the categories of male and female that they see.
Adolescence is a time when we are learning who we are, and learning to be adults independent from parents. This often involves challenging ideas that we have been brought up with.
Peers become very important at this time of life and ‘fitting in’ (or being different) feels like a big issue. But in today’s society there is a major difference – our ‘peers’ may be people online that we have never met (and may not even be real).
Influencers and vloggers are hugely popular on Instagram and YouTube, and some have millions of followers. It has become increasingly apparent that YouTube in particular plays a huge role in the lives of those who are struggling with their gender identity, or who identify as transgender. Survey findings suggest that teens’ emotional attachment to YouTube stars is as much as seven times greater than that towards a traditional celebrity; YouTube stars are perceived as 17 times more engaging, and 11 times more extraordinary, than mainstream stars . This means that vloggers have a huge influence over teenage lives. In addition to this, teenagers are more likely to be found alone in their bedrooms tuning into their favourite vloggers, than seeing real-life friends. Many mistakenly feel that vloggers have a better understanding of them than their real-life friends.
Transgender vloggers utilise YouTube to broadcast their experiences and opinions around gender identity formation, gender dysphoria and treatment. They tell their story in a hugely appealing way, giving only a positive view of being transgender and of the experience of transition. They appeal to those who are confused by adolescence and feel they don’t fit in. The vloggers offer a sense of belonging and wrongly claim that being transgender is the reason that the young person doesn’t feel comfortable in their own body.
In addition, these vloggers often actively encourage young people to mistrust their parents or other adults who don’t agree with their chosen gender identity, even suggesting that their parents do not love them. Vloggers also advise on what to say in order to persuade adults to accept their chosen identity. They encourage young people to feel free to define themselves regardless of what others might think.
Even though people know that they seldom get the whole truth on social media, it is still easy to be taken in by a carefully crafted story. We watch one video and then YouTube suggests another one with a similar perspective. Very soon, we can be immersed in one view with no concept that it may not be true, or what the truth may actually be.
These transgender vloggers do not tell you the side effects of treatments used for gender dysphoria, nor that almost all young people started on puberty blockers go straight to cross-sex hormones which guarantee they will be come infertile. They do not explain that surgery is extreme, often incomplete, and does not actually change a person’s sex; it only modifies the person’s outward appearance. They do not tell you that the best way to come to terms with who you are and to be comfortable with your body is to go through normal puberty. When no intervention is made, 70% of young people will outgrow their gender dysphoria on their own .
So beware of what you read or hear on social media, and especially YouTube. The truth is found in God’s word – He created us male and female. None of us have been born in the wrong body: that simply is not possible.
We also need to remember that our parents love us and want the best for us, and we should avoid anything that tries to alienate us from our parents.
Young people can break God’s commandments by not honouring their parents , wanting something that God has not given them and making their desire to transition an idol – this may loom so large in their lives that many other important aspects of life are eclipsed .
If you are struggling, don’t be scared. Talk to someone who will listen to you and be honest with you, someone who knows you and truly cares about you and will tell you the truth.
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
- J. Ristori and T.D. Steensma, Gender Dysphoria in Childhood, International Review of Psychiatry 28 no.1 (2016): 13-20, 10.3109/09540261.2015.1115754, 15.
- Exodus 20:12 “Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”
- Exodus 20:1-6
- Ephesians 3:19 “…to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
- Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”