Video: It Gets Better, Except When It Doesn’t

Just a little video with a few thoughts on the It Gets Better Project…

Watch for my little snaggly pirate teeth every time I smile!


  1. Chirico says

    I think both approaches are important. The “It Gets Better” stuff seems to me more of an emergency “first aid” approach rather than a more comprehensive education on the reality of the breadth of experiences. If someone is already in the state of mind of having experiences so much pain and bullying that they’re beyond the point of rational “it gets better sometimes, but not always, so I should be realistic about my expectations for the future,” then I think the most important thing is to let them know that there IS hope for them. It’s when people lose all hope in obtaining some sort of happiness that they turn to suicide, and I don’t think it’s disingenuous to point out examples of people who have managed to endure and find some hope. Of course it doesn’t always get better; regardless of your sexuality, gender, whatever, life isn’t guaranteed nor obligated to make things easy for you. But for the target audience, seeing evidence that it CAN get better is a higher priority than the evidence that it might not. Once someone is beyond the point of “I can’t take this anymore,” you can begin to educate them on the realities of life.

  2. Anders says

    *squeee* Natalie on camera! (I thought trans people weren’t visible o camera. Dracula wasn’t, and he was from Transsylvania after all…)

    First of all – you’re nervous. But as someone who has done his fair share of public speaking I can tell you this: It gets better. Usually.

    Second – excellent point about it not getting better for everyone. What might happen is that some people start blaming themselves when things don’t improve; after all, the videos said it would get better, didn’t they?

    Third – I got the impression from the (very) few videos I’ve seen that the campaign is primarily directed at the LGB part of the LGBT alliance. Have I got it wrong?

    Fourth – 41% suicide rate? I remember reading that 41% of all trans people had either had thoughts of suicide or tried to committed suicide. Since the study was performed by survey we can’t know how many actually committed suicide (dead people don’t fill out surveys). But I may misremember.

    Fifth – my favorite story of Selection Bias is from Ancient Greece (surprise, surprise). Epicuros (a known atheist) was visiting a temple of Poseidon and was shown all the votive tablets left there from people who had been saved from drowning by calling upon the Gods. He looked at them and then asked to see the tablets left by those who had drowned…

    All in all, excellent post. You’ll be as polished as Rebecca in no time. P.S. Nice jacket! D.S.

      • says

        No, but my voice and skeletal structure were.

        The thing with the missing tooth? I didn’t lose it. It just never actually grew in. My baby tooth there stayed in until I was 16, then finally fell out. I used a false one for awhile, but they kept popping out whenever I ate stuff like baguettes or apples or caramel. As said the other day, we’re ALL mutants.

        • Anders says

          What I think is fascinating is how useful the concepts of typical anatomy are even though no one actually satisfies them all. Because most of us deviate from the norm in just a few places, so you can say – “Yeah this one’s typical except no wisdom teeth.” And it gets a lot of information across in just a few words.

          I used to think gender roles were like that, but I think people deviate too much from the norm nowadays for them to be very useful. Maybe in very conservative cultures.

        • says

          I still have one of my baby teeth and so the new tooth that came in pushed one of my other teeth sideways, so when people look at me, it’s viewed in profile. Consequently, it appears to be a really sharp, small fang. Don’t have the money it would take to fix it up.

  3. says

    For the record, videos aren’t really going to become a regular feature. It just seemed appropriate in this instance given the subject matter. So not really much point in subscribing to my youtube channel.

    • Chirico says

      I think people would respond well to more videos, but either way, in the future you might want to work on the audio quality, you’re a little hard to hear.

      • says

        Ah, so it’s not just me. I could just barely get it to a reasonable volume with both my speakers and the vid itself’s volume maxed out. I’m usually hesitant to say anything about that, though, as that’s the case for 75% of Youtube vids I watch.

        But anyway, thanks for this post, Natalie. I had a few qualms about this project percolating in the back of my mind, and you’ve been able to put it all into words very well. My biggest fear with something like this is that more privileged people might looked at the It Gets Better project, then brush their hands and say “Problem solved. It looks like there’s no longer any need to worry about this.” We’ve already seen it happening with racism, so it’s just a matter of time before it becomes an argument against doing anything about homo/transphobia.

          • says

            Gah, yes. It’s amazing how, when looking at a group that is skewed even more towards “White and Asian” than towards “men”, the same people who attribute the racial differences to social factors will attribute the sex differences to genetics.

      • Rasmus says

        Audio quality typically doesn’t get much better than this with a laptop built-in mic.

        Shopping for a decent cheap mic is a pain. It’s totally hit and miss. Even if you know someone who has a good mic and you buy the exact same model for yourself, the one that you get can still suck.

        It’s just a one-off link-only video anyway… With 400 views?!

          • Rasmus says

            Well, it’s quite a bit more than most “private”/link-only videos I’ve been linked to.

            The thing is that Youtube tries to count unique viewers. It counts the number of people who have viewed the whole video (or most of it at least). It’s a pretty good estimate of the actual number of individual viewers.

            I don’t know whether you think 410 viewers in one day is a lot, but that is the equivalent of a mid-sized auditorium. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Rasmus says

            Yeah. That sounds right. The 410 are the people who took the time to play the whole video, or enough of the video for it to count.

      • deannajoylyons says

        Thanks so much for making this video. It’s always great to hear dissenting opinions. I really like being challenged. Good work!

        As far as audio quality goes, anything at all would be better than the built in laptop mic, if that’s what you were using. The noise from the laptop fan covers over anything you are recording. If you want to use a mic at all in the future, don’t worry too much about buying something fancy, as long as it plugs into the USB port instead of the audio jack, it’ll be nice and quiet.

  4. Sas says

    I pretty much agree with what you said and have nothing substantial to add, so … I’m just gonna say I want that jacket OMG. >:(

  5. Praedico says

    Your point is well made, and I agree, but I still really like the It Gets Better Project (especially this song).
    I think a better message for the project might have been that whatever your current surroundings, there are countless people who made it through similar situations and even more that want to help, so please don’t give up. And fuck the hateful bastards.
    Maybe that wouldn’t have quite the same punch (at least, if you said it like that instead of in some short, eloquent sentence) but it would at least be more accurate.

    Also, you have the BEST eyes.

  6. says

    [insecurities] How was my voice? It didn’t sound too deep, did it? How was my body language? Was the coffee stain on my t-shirt noticeable? My posture wasn’t too hunched over, was it? Do I look okay? Did my hair look stupid? Do I read as female? [insecurities]

    • says

      (I’m actually really uncomfortable responding to this, but I’ll trust you were really asking and want honest opinions, and can take as much salt as you need for them, ok I will stop this panic now and give raw first impressions)

      Definitely read as female, no question about that. Your voice is nice, that is, it sounds comfortable/approachable somehow. Quiet, but that’s to be expected and isn’t a bad thing, and definitely not too deep–but deepens while clearing your throat, you might try to clear gently/voicelessly with an “h” instead, or drink warm/hot water. (I learned the “h” trick from a health nut who sings, it takes practice but the results are less wear on the throat.)

      I didn’t see the coffee stain or notice the hunching, but it did look like the video camera you used was the one at the top of your computer (if your Mac is like mine). Hands are an issue, my best guess is use slower more deliberate pattern for fidgeting /and/ gestures, so you are acting like you know what to do with your hands. Tea or water also helps with that, especially for a public speaker as you apparently are now, but I’m kind of out of my knowledge range there. I will say wringing your hands is fine when nervous, but shaking-them-in-place-slightly is something to avoid if you can.

      You look vaguely pretty to me, and I think the hair probably looks good, but I have mediocre fashion sense when it comes to straight girls. (I’m a gay girl, cis, had minimal interest in fashion until coming out.)

      Anyway, I also would like transcripts with videos, but even without them, videos are nice. I can’t sleep, I’m too excited about things that happened to me today. Assuming there is no reason you don’t have them besides the time it takes, I might now go write you one and comment (and won’t be mad if you delete the comment and take the transcript).

    • Anders says

      You look good. Read as a female, including the voice. Your body language screamed nervousness, but that’s something that’ll go away with practice. Hair and fashion are really not my areas of expertise.

      You did well. You can be proud of this post.

    • Steve Schuler says

      Firstly, kudos for expanding the conversation on “It Gets Better”. I know of two instances in the not too distant past when teenagers committed suicide after making “It Gets Better” videos, which painfully illustrate that it does not always get better and this fact should not be ignored.

      Now, in answer to your question as to how you appear in your video I can only offer you a completely honest and forthright assessment of my perceptions of you. Frankly, if I did not know that you were not a cis woman by virtue of following your blog, the thought never would have crossed my mind that you might be anything other than what you appear to be, which is a very attractive, intelligent, and articulate young woman. There is nothing about your appearance, mannerisms, tone of voice, etc., that I think I would have clued into that would have raised the question in my mind that you might be transsexual. Considering that I was watching your video with foreknowledge of your transsexuality and that awareness probably heightened my sensitivity to ‘discrepancies’, and that I could detect none, will hopefully provide you with a bit of reassurance as to how you are perceived. All that I have written here is absolutely true and had I perceived anything in your appearance that might have caused you disappointment, I simply would have not responded to your query.

    • Beth says

      Voice is, as others have said, nice but a little hard to hear. You definitely present as female. Because you are open about being trans, I was looking for clues. Didn’t see anything obvious.

      I think you make a good point that is often hard to vocalize. I really like the “It’s gets better” campaign and wouldn’t mind seeing it extended to just teenage sadness and anxieties more generally. But it’s also important to acknowledge the uncertainty about the future and for any particularly individual, there are no guarantees that anything will get better.

    • sjrosewater says

      I think you looked fantastic! I read you as female, but your voice wasn’t entirely consistent and would drop slightly at several points, but it was nothing I would notice if I didn’t know you were trans. Overall, it sounded great. I really hope this doesn’t offend you, but your voice has a tone that I’ve found is peculiar to a lot trans women. It may just be the juxtaposition of female vocal mannerisms with a slightly deeper-than-usual voice. In cis-women, it’s either a deeper-than-usual voice and few female vocal mannerisms, or a higher voice with pronounced vocal mannerisms. But again, it’s nothing I would notice if I weren’t looking for it.

      I’m not very fashion-savvy, but I though your jacket and necklace looked nice together, and the earrings were cute. You seemed a little hunched-over and I didn’t notice the coffee stain ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Dalillama says

      Since you mention it, you did hunch just a tad, and could perhaps speak towards the camera a bit more; I am one of those who had difficulty with the sound, but aside from that, I can’t find any fault with it. You have a lovely voice, and you look like the vivacious and attractive young lady that you are. I find myself forced to disagree with sjrosewater above; I suspect that the quality that was commented on is that your voice is unforced, while many women tend to speak in an artificially high register. Your voice is within the normal range compared to the cis women I know who don’t do that. As the other commenter above have noted, I would not have know that you were trans if it weren’t mentioned in the bio to the right.

    • zengaze says

      Nat you have a beautiful mind and are therefore a beautiful person by default. Found this blog through the axp post and am hugely grateful to have this resource to learn and broaden my own mind through.

    • carlie says

      So glad you asked! I wanted to say “you have such an amazingly soothing voice”, but then I thought that would be kind of creepy and definitely misogynistic to be focusing on something related to your presentation rather than your message.

      (I know you asked in jest, but that gave the the opportunity to go ahead and say it. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    • Ana says

      Well, since you ask about appearance, I gotta ask you an extremely important, not-at-all-girly-and-shallow question: Did you choose your glasses to match your hair, or the other way around? xD
      You look just fine, although really nervous. I kept wanting to hug you to calm you down, but I’m like that. Thank you for posting, it’s a very interesting video and made me think about the equilibrium between sending a positive hope-giving message and erasing the less-than-great experiences.

  7. says

    Right, I went back to your other video, and found you saying you would be okay having a transcript for that one; I’ll do what the other commenter did and send it to your gmail address when I’m done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *