Alex Blaze

Can men go shirtless on YouTube?

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 10, 2010 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: dominic scaia, Facebook, ftm, transsexual

Dominic Scaia, the Canadian transsexual man who was blocked from Facebook for showing his chest after top surgery a couple months ago, went and did it again and got a video blocked from YouTube for the same reason.

He emailed me a few weeks ago (and emailed me again this weekend since I was on vacation when he first wrote) and sent in this screenshot of YouTube's warning message:


Sure, he's a larger man (his own words), and he used to have breasts. But neither of those conditions justify removing his video.

Dominic sent in this screenshot of the video in question and a description:

videoscreencap.bmpAt the time the video was taken, I was two and a half weeks post-op. My chest was bare, and I was wearing jeans. It wasn't really gory, and most certainly contained no nudity, seeing as, I had no breasts anymore. I had the chest reconstruction specifically to create a male chest, after all.

It was just me talking with my shirt off. updating people on my recovery.

And they have no problem with men going shirtless on YouTube*:

A site like YouTube is going to err on the conservative side of these questions, even though many of us (including myself) would have no problem with anyone going shirtless on the internet. Personally, I find the first ban on women going shirtless to be illogical and sexist in and of itself. We've come to accept it and, if YouTube wants to be allowed in schools and the workplace and conservatives' homes and all jurisdictions, they're going to do what it takes.

Since their warning is rather vague. Here's the applicable part of the community guidelines:

YouTube is not for pornography or sexually explicit content. If this describes your video, even if it's a video of yourself, don't post it on YouTube. Also, be advised that we work closely with law enforcement and we report child exploitation. Please read our Safety Center and stay safe on YouTube.

So the line isn't clear and they don't say if they ban breasts or women going topless. It doesn't really matter here - Dominic isn't a woman and he doesn't have breasts. He is, like lots of guys who are allowed to go shirtless on YouTube, large. And, like lots of other guys, he has some scars on his chest.

If they're going to have a rule like that, it should be applied as fairly as possible, otherwise it sends the message that either YouTube has decided to start determining who's a real man and who's not, or that YouTube just has something against larger guys who may appear to have breasts.

Here's Dominic's explanation as to why this is important:

Because I am proud of my chest, and because I have been documenting my transition on YouTube for the last two years and have been updating my viewers every step of the way. Uploading videos such as these, not only keep people updated on my transition; they also help to educate, spread awareness, and help other trans people make informed decisions.

Also, when you see videos of other people who are going through the same thing as you, it helps you to not feel alone. Videos like these also sometimes inspire people who may be questioning their gender, to do something about it.

There is a huge transgender community on YouTube.. and the site has become a very important tool for many who are either transitioning, questioning, or know someone who is.

It's a great source of information on trans issues, tips on how to transition, etc..

I'm sure he's not the only trans guy told to put on a shirt in a situation where men are generally allowed to go shirtless (in fact, Dominic mentioned that a friend of his who's FTM got the same warning from YouTube), and he's definitely not the only transsexual man to be told he's not really a man. I'm glad that he's keeping this fight up in Web 2.0 platforms that are otherwise great resources so that site administrators (like those at Facebook), cissexual visitors, and transsexual people themselves can learn about real people's experiences transitioning.

While YouTube is, of course, a private entity that can post and take down whatever it pleases, they've taken on the mantle (and the attendant attention, hits, and profit) of an online town square, so we absolutely should be questioning their decisions. It's YouTube, not GetOffMyPropertyTube. They should live up to their name, because, last I checked, tg/ts people are part of that "You."

I emailed YouTube some questions about this but they haven't responded yet. I'll post their reply if they do.

*Also too, Scott Herman is a YouTuber with some great body-building videos on YouTube. But that's neither here nor there.

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You can watch guys masturbate underneath their underwear on YouTube, but you can't see a trans man's chest? WTF?!

I bet if I went topless they'd ban it too. It's almost enough to get me to test it...

Let's also not forget that Google (which of course own's youtube) is one of the largest companies on the web: they set a lot of standards, and therefore need to be pushed on issues like this.

i think that's stupid, for one i have a video on youtube where yes my breasts are covered but i'm laying in bed naked. and my video didn't get banned, but Dominic's did its plane out stupid. keep fighting! :)

Just a quick comment on the exercise video...

If some clown in my gym suddenly threw a pair of 100-pound dumbbells on the floor like that without bothering to look to see if someone else might be around, he'd find his membership pulled *so* very fast.

I guess Larry Kramer was right. Beauty makes men dumb.

JuliaRose | May 10, 2010 10:23 PM

Hi there, i am absolutely astounded that facebook and other social networking sites are so transphobic. It really gets me that you are either male/female or nothing yet groups when they are described are not gender identified. How else are trans people supposed to get information.
With the current internet censorship debate in Australia this is yet another example of why we should be terrified by our governments proposals, WHO gets to choose what is an is not ok for us to see. As adults we should be allowed to see what we ant, i f isee something that offends me I dont look, if isee something illegal ie child porn I would report it. And why are trans mans chests so offensive,Breast cancer sites all over the world show similar photographs, same surgery different purpose!!!!! It is outrageous transphobia. Be loud, be proud and know there are many non trans people who support you in your fight for human rights!!!!! Julia XXXXX 2fz2kd