CSUF student Ryan Flores gains following on YouTube by opening up conversation about the transgender community

In 2017 Millennials Issue, Features
(Rick Piñon / Daily Titan)

YouTube allows users to free their voice and find a new type of confidence hidden within. Ryan Flores uses his channel as a personal way of chronicling his transition as a transgender male.

“I knew for sure I wanted to (make YouTube videos) for myself and that was initially why I started, but once I saw the response and how people were actually interested in what was happening to me and my body, that’s when it started to grow and that’s what gave me more motive to continue,” Flores said.

His first video in 2014 set the tone for what his channel would become. He titled it “Coming Out As Transgender,” in which a 16-year-old Flores said that he would be posting videos on how female-to-male transition would affect him. Adapting to a deeper voice, a new physical appearance and becoming comfortable with his new but proper pronouns were among the things that Flores addressed.

Posting videos throughout the years periodically has allowed Flores to share not only his personal transition, but also his transition into Cal State Fullerton.

FTM Tranguy Talks: Living in College Apartments,” gives insight on his life as a university student, while other videos focus on weighty topics like misinformed stereotypes found in the comments sections of his videos like “you will never be a ‘real’ man.”

Flores said that his videos have helped explain his gender and the LGBTQ community to his family because it eliminates a face-to-face confrontation when he refers them to his videos.

“With my parents, for example, I know they didn’t understand completely and I’m thinking ‘Well if my parents don’t really understand and they’re my parents, it’s going to be difficult for people who don’t know me at all to understand,’” Flores said.

Using his video recordings to speak about personal issues has become Flores’ own way of building confidence and has made it easier to come out to his closest friends.

Flores knew his college friend, AJ Pontanares, for three years and only recently came out to her in person.

“I’ve always done it indirectly whether it be online or through a letter I’ve written. Using my videos online was easier to show her or display a part of me that she didn’t know before,” Flores said.

Along with making it easier for Flores to share personal details about himself that he typically refrains from revealing, the backing of online users has helped ease his transition.

Pontanares said she has seen the support online empower Flores and allow him to find extended support during his transition.

“Online there are more people who watch your videos and they reach out to you, and I feel like in person you don’t really get that,” Pontanares said.

Flores also acknowledges the importance of creating videos for a topic that isn’t talked about frequently to give people a chance to get informed. Pontanares said that people who are facing similar struggles can find help even if it is only through an online interaction.

Like many of his followers, Flores said that he felt alone at the beginning of his transition. After one of his videos “Pre-T to One Year On Testosterone Comparison,“ which has more than 2.5 million views, he found that his online support group had grown exponentially. His channel now has almost 80,000 subscribers.

Flores’ most popular video flashbacked to a year’s worth of progress and change and served to capture his transition from day one to his latest step on October 2016, when it was posted.

Of course with a broader audience, there is a greater chance of attracting negative responses from viewers who challenge the topics of conversation.

“It’s been growing and it continues to grow, and there’s always the negative people. But I’ve noticed and I recognize that there’s a lot more support in comparison to the negative, and that’s what keeps me going,” Flores said.

His growth has extended far past his on-camera confidence, said hometown friend Marina Perez. She has known Flores for about eight years, before he started his channel.

“I’ve noticed that Ryan has been more confident lately. The deeper in transition, the more confident he gets and I think that has also helped him grow as a person,” Perez said.

There are a lot of people online who have found inspiration through Flores’ story that he’s proudly shared because of how helpful it was for them personally, Perez said.

Flores will continue to update his followers on his transition through each one of his personal stages, the most recent being his gender-affirming surgery which depending on the individual, changes their physical appearance in terms of sex to coincide with their gender identity.

He also wants to share more about his personal life on his channel to show off his creativity that aligns with his major, cinema and television arts.

Flores would like to use his established audience on Youtube to further pursue a possible acting career in Los Angeles and sharpen his craft.

Whether on YouTube or the big screen, Flores continues to support the lives of those within the LGBTQ community. Similar to a line he says at the beginning of his videos, he wishes to “transcend and trans4m” to connect with people over his transition and continue to help others with his platform.

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