My son, Jamie (aka Must Be Tuesday), has made a series of videos demonstrating his changing singing voice during his gender transition. The videos were intended to be informative and helpful to anyone contemplating a transition of their own, especially if they are singers.
Until this weekend, they were available to anyone, even if you searched in Restricted Mode. That has now changed. Suddenly these videos, despite having family-friendly content, have become unavailable in Restricted Mode. Someone, somewhere, has decided that the videos of a singer going through gender transition are no longer suitable for children to see or hear.
Obviously, that means that any child who would be interested in knowing what happens to a voice during transition can no longer find that out on YouTube. The whole playlist entitled Gender Transition has been hidden, and on the Must Be Tuesday home page, twelve videos have become unavailable in Restricted Mode.
This came as a surprise, and so I made a few enquiries. It turns out that the LGBTQ community has discovered a great many videos suddenly hidden on YouTube. As a community they are, understandably, upset. In response, a YouTube spokesperson said “Videos that contain LGBT topics are available in Restricted Mode, however, some videos that cover subjects like health, politics and sexuality may not appear for users and institutions that choose to use this feature,” the rep added. Apparently, that includes the voice of a singer who happens to be transgender. It also includes the videos of singers Tegan and Sara, who tweeted that nothing in their videos is inappropriate, unless dancing is inappropriate!
In response to the criticism, “YouTube on Monday admitted that its family-friendly “restricted mode” had wrongly labeled some videos on its site, apologizing and promising to fix the error, after users complained.” We’ll see what happens.
No matter which way you look at this, it is censorship of material that is legal, appropriate for children, and moral. The wide-sweeping hiding of LGBTQ material probably doesn’t directly affect most of the people reading this blog, but the sudden disappearance of videos and vlogs should concern everyone. We don’t know why these choices were made or by whom.
A British YouTuber, Rowan Ellis, said ““I think it’s really important to look at why LGBT content has been deemed as inappropriate. This is something which goes far beyond a mistake that YouTube might have made that they’re going to draw attention to and fix later.”
Let’s hope that it’s a glitch in the algorithm. If it isn’t, it is a very troubling development.