How “Skylarkeleven” is Teaching a New Generation About Being Trans

July 1, 2015
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by Jason M. Breslow Digital Editor

The treatment of transgender children can be controversial territory. Treatment options that did not exist in the U.S. as recently as a generation ago are now more widely available. Still, it’s a field of medicine with very little research.

For kids like Alex Singh, that can often mean having to make decisions that carry lifelong consequences, but without being able to know every potential risk or benefit.

One resource that is available, however, are the YouTube diaries being kept by a growing community of transgender children and young adults.

The video bloggers who make them may not be household names, but they’ve garnered millions of views as they’ve taken to the web to catalog their transition from one gender to another.

One of the most popular is Skylar Kergil, aka “skylarkeleven” on YouTube. A trans male, the 23-year-old Kergil has clocked more than 7 million views on his YouTube channel chronicling everything from his testosterone treatments to “top surgery.”

For Singh, who at 13 has begun the transition from female to male, the videos are not just a resource. As he explains in the below video — the fourth in a Facebook-first series of short documentaries from FRONTLINE produced around our new film Growing Up Trans — they’re also a way to connect with others who are either going through or have completed the same transition.

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“I watch lots of YouTube videos of like skylarkeleven and stuff,” says Singh. “Having him like kind of explain everything through his videos have helped me a lot.”

When FRONTLINE met Singh, he was looking forward to two of the same treatments that Kergil also went through — top surgery and cross-gender hormones.

“Cross hormones, I can’t wait for,” said Singh. “It’s going to mean that I’m going to start being able to gain muscle easier, the way guys should be able to. My voice is going to drop. I’m going to get an Adam’s apple … I can get a deep voice, I can get a beard, I can get a flat chest. Did someone look at my Christmas list?”

But for Singh, treatment is about more than just facial hair or an Adam’s apple. As he explained, “I think once I start the cross gender hormones I’ll feel more like myself, I’ll feel more happy, because I know that I’m going to start looking the way I want to. I’m so excited about this.”

For Alex’s full story — and an in-depth look at the often-controversial treatments now available to transgender and gender non-conforming children — watch Growing Up Trans in-full and for free anytime here on the FRONTLINE website.

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