With close to a million subscribers there’s a good chance you may have heard of the YouTube channel PhilosophyTube. Started in 2013 the channel focuses on highly produced theatrical essays and discussion surrounding philosophy and has even tackled trans-related topics in the past. What you may not have been aware of however, is that it’s star and creator, Abigail Thorn, is transgender herself.
On January 30th, Abigail felt it was the right time to share her truth with the wider world. To do so she created a powerful video through which to tell her story and mark the occasion. Before we continue, if you haven’t yet seen the video (which has been viewed over a million times already) you can do so below.
In her 38 minute video, Identity: A Trans Coming Out Story, Abigail explains her own personal struggles throughout her journey, referencing her own experiences of self harm, suicide attempts, body issues and mental health problems. Her struggle, like that of so many trans people, is very real and of this she is acutely aware.
“Pretending to be this man is like living in the trenches, going to war every day”
“It’s no way to live. Sooner or later there has to be peace”
As she takes us very delicately and eloquently, behind the curtain, so to speak, we learn a little more of Abigail’s struggle, of the secret she’s had to keep – living her life openly as a trans woman for over a year in social settings, whilst hiding this fact from her audience (and workplace) online.
There is no guidebook to coming out, no set rules in place to follow to ensure it goes smoothly. Nothing to keep you safe and protected at this, your most vulnerable, time.
Whilst Abigail’s situation may at first seem unrelatable, operating a YouTube channel with an audience of close to one million people, her particular circumstances are not uncommon and there are many people out there unable to share their truth fully – some not even at all.
The fear of unknown consequences when coming out can be overwhelming. Will I lose friends? Family? My job? Questions that rock back and forth inside the minds of many a-person coming to terms with their identity.
It’s often hard to convey what it all feels like. To be ‘The Man Who Isn’t There’ from Abigail’s video. It’s where videos like this one really shine, arming those who need it with more words, more ways to explain to those that could never fully understand what it is they may be going through.
And in the second part of her video, the magic really happens.
We meet Abigail. A beautiful, confident woman standing tall.
“This is not a joke, this is not a performance, it is not part of the theatre! This is real. I’m transgender”
From here she talks about the changes she’s experienced throughout her transition, feelings of comfort, relaxation and pride. A level of positivity that’s impossible to ignore.
“My identity is grounded not in the things that bring me pain, or that other people do to me, but in the things that I love and in the places that I feel at home.”
In a separate statement released on twitter, Abigail acknowledges that the UK is not currently in a good place with regards to trans rights. She draws attention to the specific struggles UK trans folk experience: “unemployment, homelessness, and domestic, sexual, and police violence” while “the conversation always focuses on wealthy white cis women tweeting about toilets.” She’s not wrong.
We talk about the importance of visibility a lot. Of expanding the ‘norm’ and with this Abigail pledges to use her platform to advocate for trans rights and more importantly, equity.
“My existing following means I have now instantly become one of the most recognisable trans people in the country and I feel an enormous pressure to be ‘good at it’”
We have no doubt she will be ‘good at it’. She’s off to an incredible start to anyone looking on, and a shining beacon of inspiration for anyone exploring similar feelings, no matter where they might be on that journey.
We’d like to congratulate Abigail on her announcement, we’d like to thank her for her video. It has had a profound impact. If she does nothing more for our shared community, she’s done plenty.
It’s lovely to meet you Abigail. The pleasure is truly ours.