AJ Clementine shares how YouTube helped her connect with a worldwide trans community

Words by Maeve Kerr-Crowley

She uses YouTube to talk about her experience as a trans woman.

With VidCon Australia taking over Melbourne this weekend, the city is filling with a very specific crowd: content creators.

At this point in our digitally-obsessed lives, most of us have probably encountered people who describe themselves as ‘content creators’. Potentially without knowing what the term actually means. In reality, it’s less of a descriptor and more of a career, albeit one that didn’t exist just a few years ago.

Homegrown YouTuber and LGBTQI+ advocate, AJ Clementine, considers content creation a new art form. Like painters, sculptors or designers, she and her peers are using their creative skills to present a message to the world.

“I think it can be confusing because people use social media for different things,” AJ explains. “They get confused by people who are using it to convey a message or tell their stories, and the fact that they can actually reach people like that. The internet isn’t just a social platform, and it’s not just a place to share cat videos and memes with your friends. There’s a deeper well there.”

It took her a while to find that well herself, despite starting her own fashion-focused YouTube channel when she was still in high school. It was a simple matter of watching hours and hours of other people’s videos and thinking, ‘Oh, I could do that too’. She’d dabbled previously, making and posting cheesy music videos with her friends and had a growing interest in video production and editing.

The oldest videos are still floating around AJ’s channel include try-on hauls, everyday makeup tutorials, and the classic ‘Australians try British food’ video. Peppered amongst them, however, are clips with titles like ‘Being trans in high school’, ‘Passing as female’, and ‘19 months on Estrogen’.

At a time in AJ’s life where she was struggling with her own personal transition as a transgender girl, she realised there was a severe lack of content being created by and for young trans people.

“Most of the stuff I was reading was from America, and a lot of it was negative,” she says. “I’d had enough of reading those same old stories, because it’s not always like that. So I was like, why not just tell that truth?”

She started sharing her journey online, detailing deeply personal and often vulnerable scenarios like coming out to her family, dating, getting surgery, and dealing with daily dysphoria. She assures me she doesn’t regret anything that she’s posted since starting her channel, but admits it taught her a lot about her own boundaries around what’s too personal to share with people she doesn’t know.

But it’s this openness and willing vulnerability that’s helped AJ reach her audience. At the time of writing this, her channel has 28.7 thousand subscribers. Her videos are a priceless resource for other young trans people, who she hopes can see her level of confidence and honesty as something to aspire to. But she’s still surprised every time she realises how many people she’s actually impacting.

AJ tells me a story about her first VidCon experience back in 2017. A mother approached her in tears, explaining that she had a trans son, and that AJ’s videos had been vital in helping her educate herself on trans issues. This woman had struggled to find resources where concepts like gender dysphoria were explained in a way she could understand.

“That was one perspective, parents of trans kids, that I just didn’t think would be watching my videos,” she muses.

That kind of personal impact is the exact reason she started her channel, but as the world changes and people become generally more understanding, it’s allowed her to step back from the political aspects of her life and create more light-hearted content.

Nothing on her channel embodies this new fun-for-the-fun-of-it bend than her now extensive Omegle video series.

No social media platform is an island, and if YouTube is AJ’s personality – the endearing Omegle and Trans Girl Sleepover side of it all – Instagram is all about the aesthetics. This is a balance that she’s had to figure out for herself, coming to terms with the more casual engagement of a purely visual platform.

A lot of her Instagram followers have never seen any of her personality-filled videos (oblivious to the point of sending her ‘You’re so pretty I didn’t even know you were trans’ pseudo-compliments every time she mentions gender-related issues on the platform), a fact she combats by posting plenty of “awkward and weird” Instagram stories that give an insight into who she is at heart.

These are her tips for keeping Instagram fun and pressure-free.

For anyone looking to take their social media usage a step further and try their hand and content creation, but are worried about what people will think, AJ gives the following advice:

“Think about the kind of person you want to be and create. What sparked your interest in the first place, and what would be something you’d be okay continuously creating? Go in with the enjoyment of creating and love that aspect of it. You don’t even have to tell people. It can just be something you do.”

You can see AJ and other content creators speak at VidCon Australia, which starts today and runs until September 22. You can buy tickets here.

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