Dear YouTube and YouTube Community (because this affects you too),
- How to: DIY Harness,
- DIY: Cheap Packer,
- Sam STP Review, and
- The Pierre Review.
What do these have in common?
They are all videos made by YouTube creator Chase Ross, also known as uppercaseCHASE1, that have been unfairly age-restricted at one point or another thanks to your messed up system.
Just so you know, Ross is a YouTube veteran and has been creating content for over 10 years. It has become his career and he’s well-known among the transmasculine community for his comedic relief on sexual education topics. Ross has stated he makes these review videos because there is a lack of sexual health education in the trans community. He has said over 60% of his videos have been flagged under restriction mode, despite containing no mature content.
I’m a long time viewer of Ross’ and have used YouTube to access information since it came out when I was 11. I have been fortunate enough to watch his channel grow to what it is today, 80,000+ subscribers.
I was 17 years old when I came across my first Chase Ross video, searching the internet for answers about myself. Of course I lived in Montana, where there is such a lack of transgender education that most transgender people here figure out who they are via the internet. But finding out about all things trans on the internet isn’t limited to Montana, it is common all over the world.
Montana isn’t the easiest place to be transgender, being ranked as the 49th worst state to live in as transgender, according to Refinery29. They rated each state’s laws protecting transgender people, Montana earning a 7 out of 100. So you can see why passing as male in bathroom settings is important to my overall health and safety.
Now before you say, “Declan, these videos are all penis ‘sex toy’ related and should be restricted,” or “What the heck does STP mean?” Let me educate you.
A packer or a stand to pee device (STP), also known as a prosthetic penis, are devices transgender men use to create the appearance of a bulge and or to stand and pee like cisgender men. If you want a good one, they are usually expensive, but can range in price anywhere from $12 to $400. They shouldn’t be restricted because they are not sex toys, though you can now buy ones that you can pack, pee and can “play” with.
The transmasculine community has used YouTube for years as a platform to educate and help transgender men make informed decisions when purchasing gender affirming products. There are now many different products and companies selling these devices, that it’s hard to choose wisely. Not to mention most are sold online, so it’s difficult to tell what they really look like. Trust me, it’s the worst feeling in the world spending hundreds of dollars on something that doesn’t work or look like it should.
People like Ross have made it easier for the transmasculine community by making review videos about such devices. But it seems as though your system has flagged content like this as sexual, even though YouTube has told Ross his videos don’t break community guidelines. The videos listed above have minor if not any sexually explicit content.
As a 23-year-old transgender man living in a state that has recently tried to pass anti-transgender bathroom bills, my STP has saved my life in numerous bathroom situations, from using a urinal to taking a leak in nature while out trying to catch a Montana trout. It has helped me become one with myself. I view my prosthetic penis as a medical necessity, alleviating the bottom dysphoria I have. To me, it is no different than a prosthetic leg. I wouldn’t have been able to find the right one if it wasn’t for YouTube review videos. Even though, I may add, the significance of packing varies from trans person to trans person.
With everything going on in the U.S., the resurgence of bathroom bills, the supreme court not hearing Gavin Grimm’s case, these reviews have become more important now than ever before. But because of the age-restriction, these videos are now not available for transgender youth, a community that Ross has said needs these videos the most.
I know many young transgender men these videos could help. The age-restriction affects trans youth from obtaining the information they need to find themselves. Ross has said most of his viewers are between the ages of 13 and 17.
I do want to acknowledge your apology but I have to say, it’s not enough. Transgender accessibility to healthcare information isn’t a “sensitive issue.” It’s a basic human rights and access to life’s necessities issue. This issue could turn away future transgender creators, making it a business issue for you.
I don’t want to say YouTube is being transphobic because I don’t think you are. It may just be lack of education on transgender issues within your company or it’s your system of viewing flagged content that is flawed. The system is neglecting to recognize the needs of transgender people and is wrongfully deciding what is appropriate for my community.
This should be a concern for anyone, not just trans people, using YouTube as a platform. It is limited and prevents a fair trial when videos are flagged. It is a freedom of speech and information issue.
YouTube, you say you will use the input from your creators and viewers to train your systems and improve your algorithms. I’m here and visible to make sure someone holds you accountable for your promise. But the damage has been done to Chase, these videos now non-monetizable.
What can be changed?
Be more proactive and public about your support of transgender people. You can educate your staff on LGBTQ issues and needs. But first, fix the videos that have been unfairly age-restricted.
A transgender man who just needs to pee.