Remember a few days ago when I said I’m really stressed out and I don’t feel like I have anything relevant to say?
I changed my mind.
I have something relevant to say today.
This year for NaNoWriMo, I’m working on a post-apocalyptic/dystopian thing where these people have built a city in an old abandoned building. I’m not going to get into it right now (although I hope to talk about it on here more when/if I self-publish!) because the book itself is not really important to the post.
Anyways, one of the main characters in this story is FTM transgender. He’s one of the lower-class people in this city and he’s unable to afford top surgery. He does, however, pay for semi-regular testosterone injections (don’t ask me where it actually comes from—worldbuilding is not my strong suit, so I’ll probably have to figure it out later). Anyways, I’ve been trying as hard as possible to get it right, so I’ve been attempting to do a lot of research. The actual human, emotional aspect hasn’t been very hard for me: I’ve got a close personal friend who’s FTM transgender, as well as some internet buddies. Not being transgender myself, it’s definitely a challenge, but so far I think I’ve been doing this character justice.
The problem comes in for me with the actual science-y aspect of it. I’m even worse at science than I am at worldbuilding. I know that there’s health risks associated with testosterone treatments (and obviously there’s medical science related to top surgery) but up until researching for this story I didn’t actually know what those health risks really were—not in any concrete sense, at least. I really had no idea what the usual dose is, or the method of administering it, or anything that has to do with the science aspect of transitioning at all.
You think it’d be simple enough to find. There’s no shortage of accounts, both personal and official, detailing the process. But I’ve got a little bit of an issue.
I don’t have a computer.
It’s been busted since the beginning of the school year, and I’ve been typing my NaNoNovel on my phone and on the school computers in the library. I figured I could also use the school computers for my research. It never crossed my mind that my attempts at research might be blocked by the school’s internet censors. The vast majority of sites detailing the science behind FTM transitions were blocked by the school’s censors—for being part of the censored categories of “pornographic” and “adult.”
To put things in perspective, my school district’s censors block WordPress, probably the most chill site in the history of ever, because it’s in the category of “personal blogging”, but doesn’t block Tumblr, probably the site with the least chill in the history of ever, because reasons. The censor blocks the apps Snapchat (picture sharing app, which is admittedly often used for sexting, but who’s going to be sexting in school??) and Kik (messaging app that usually isn’t used for sexting), but doesn’t block apps like Tindr, Badoo, or Grindr, which literally exist only for the purpose of sexting and meeting up with people to have sex with them. As far as I know, the censor is a combination of some sort of automated algorithm and human input. Basically, the censor blocks the least obvious things and ignores the most obvious ones, and a lot of innocent sites end up getting blocked.
And, as I discovered yesterday, the vast majority of websites concerning transitioning and transgender issues were blocked.
Some of them were personal blogs—wordpress, tumblr, etc—that the censor blocks automatically. But some of them are scientific journals, reputable news sources, and informative pages from non-profit organizations, which were blocked by human input for being “pornographic.”
The only reason I could think of that these websites are blocked as “pornographic” are because, in mentioning top surgery, they also inevitably mention boobs. And we all know that the only thing that public school is more eager to deny the existence of than shoulders and legs, is boobs.
And fine, whatever. My brother and I bogged down our computer with about fifteen thousand viruses, so I guess it’s my own fault that I can’t do research. My phone is definitely less than ideal, but if I disconnect it from the school’s wifi, I can view the sites that I need to in order to get my research done. It sucks, but it’s good enough.
I’m relatively lucky in that regard. But there’s plenty of people at my school who don’t have internet access at home, or who have a hostile home environment where viewing sites like these could be immensely dangerous for them. People who are questioning their gender or sexuality, especially those who can’t talk to anyone in their home about it, absolutely need access to resources like these websites. This censorship is essentially telling kids who are transgendered, or questioning, or basically anything other than cisgendered are told that their very existence is pornographic.
Fuck public school. Fuck internet censorship. I’m fed up with everything.