For all of the attention paid right now to weird public school teachers with the compulsive need to talk with their students about their “girl parts” and “boy parts,” parents with young children really need to be looking just as hard at what’s going on with the social media Tik Tok app.
A recent mini-documentary put out by CBS last month, “Are the Kids All Right?: Gen(der) Z,” features several children expressing their thoughts on gender. One of them is Fin, a 14-year-old girl who says she feels like a boy. Fin has dyed purple hair and an off-beat sense of humor but otherwise presents herself as a normal teenage kid who lives with her mom, dad, and brother.
By her own account, Fin was in all likelihood a typical adolescent going through the awkward phase of figuring out where she fit in. But, with too much free time on her hands, she found herself falling down a rabbit hole on Tik Tok.
“I was watching Tik Toks while I was out of school because of the pandemic,” she said. “And I just ended up on the, like, queer side of Tik Tok. I’m like, I didn’t, like, really know these people existed. Maybe this is who I am.” She went on, “At first I thought I was a lesbian. And then I’m like, that’s not right. Maybe I’m non-binary. No, I don’t think that’s right. Trans? Yes, that’s what it is.”
For the uninitiated, Tik Tok is most commonly known as a place where pre-teens and even some nerdy adults share videos of themselves doing dance routines. But as the wildly popular “Libs of Tik Tok” account on Twitter has documented at great length, there’s a very large network on the app made up of transgender and “queer” users who delight in sharing details about their sexual identities and the ways in which they’ve exposed children to those concepts as well.
That’s what Fin was referring to when she said she stumbled across the “queer side” of Tik Tok. Up until finding that surreal part of the Internet, Fin apparently thought nothing of the fact that she’s a girl. “I really thought gender was set in stone when I was younger,” she said, “because I didn’t really know anyone who was different at all.”
Sadly, Fin’s journey through Tik Tok’s gender-bending offerings did not stop at her deciding that she preferred to be referred to as “he” and “him.” The program would eventually show her pursuing hormone treatment to block her pubescence and perhaps replace her natural estrogen with testosterone. (The program’s producers undoubtedly saw the irony in filming Fin’s clinic with an outdoor sign that read, “Women’s healthcare facility.”)
All indications are that Fin’s parents truly care about their daughter and want the best for her. But by allowing Fin to make irreversible, permanent alterations to her body before it has fully developed, all because she stumbled upon some fantastical material on a social media app, isn’t traditionally what it means to properly raise a child.
Another subject in the program is 14-year-old Desmond, a boy who, with the encouragement of his mother, dresses in drag and attends gay pride festivals. “I began identifying as gender-fluid a couple years ago when I was looking on the Internet,” he says.
The public schools have certainly shown themselves to be places that parents should be monitoring with a microscope. But Tik Tok and other social media are just as bad, if not worse.