Helping Trans Youth One Video At a Time

Cameron Russo is a 22 year old transgender man from Boston, MA. Transgender is a term for people whose gender identity, expression, and/or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth.
Over the last year, Cameron started documenting his life through various social media outlets. He provides advice to trans youth, makes videos on YouTube, and inspires many in the LGBTQ community. I was able to interview Cameron about his amazing acts of kindness and what being kind means to him.

When did you know you were trans?
I came out as trans when I was 14 years old, but discovered the term at age 13. Once I found out what it was, it just clicked. I am a lot happier now. This time it is genuine happiness.

What are ways people can get involved in the LGBT community?
There are so many ways to help support the LGBT community. Every summer, there is a pride parade in almost every state. It is really fun, and so many people go. Even if you do not fall in the L, G, B, T, or Q it is always better with more people. Educating others is so important. Since social media is so big nowadays, sharing videos is so easy, and it reaches a lot of people. A really simple way of being involved in the community is just by being kind. The statistics for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender and try harming themselves is too high.

What advice do you have for other trans youth?
Hang in there. Life may seem like it is at a standstill right now, and you feel like you are never going to get to where you want to be, but I promise you will get there. Be proud of who you are.

Can you talk about the acts of kindness you do everyday on your social media platforms?
Basically, I started social media to document my photos and thoughts while I was transitioning. They started to get some attention, and now with the platform I have, I want to educate and expose more people to who transgender people are. I talk to a lot of pre-transitioned guys and those who are just starting out to help them feel more comfort. I was alone throughout my whole transition, hormones and surgery, so having someone there even over the Internet is a huge help.

Why is being kind important to you?
Being kind is important because life’s too short, as cliché as that is. I spent so much time hating myself, and now I wish I could get those years back. I see so many people struggling, and I just want to help them.

Has there ever been an act of kindness you have performed that you believe has affected many people?
I opened up last year in one of my videos. I told my whole story from beginning to end, and that was the first time I ever spoke about it out loud. It reached over 400,000 people and was just briefly in a Diane Sawyer 20/20 special on ABC last week. The amount of people who messaged me after that video was mind blowing. It was crazy to see how similar other people’s stories were, they were just too scared to be open about it. But because I was, they opened up to me.

Above is a picture of Cameron swimming for the first time since transitioning.

What got you into making YouTube videos?
I started making videos on YouTube because on Tumblr a follower of mine had asked me to do a question and answer, so I made a video and put it on YouTube. Once I started doing that I started to really enjoy it so I made more. I just got a new camera for my videos instead of having to use my Mac to record. My videos are a lot of transgender related topics, like top surgery and testosterone. I also make story time videos about random things that have happened in my life.

What do you hope people understand from reading about you and your story?
For the first year of my transition, I was stealth outside of the Internet, meaning I was not open about being transgender. I always felt people would be weirded out by me, because I saw so many people bash on trans people online. When people read my story, I just want them to understand that just because I changed my gender, does not make me crazy or “sick in the head” like I have been told. I was not happy and I was on the road to ending my life so I had to change what I knew was wrong. I want people to watch my videos and realize that things can get so much better once you put yourself first.

To follow Cameron’s journey or to watch Cameron’s videos check out his YouTube videos. You can also follow him on Instagram.

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Maria Mongiardo

Maria Mongiardo, 21, was born and raised near Boston, Massachusetts. She is currently a senior at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts studying Biology and plans to get her masters in public health. She is also a senior writer for the nonprofit LupusChick where she has been working for the last three years. She is interested in research on chronic illnesses, mental health, and ways to educate the general public on invisible illnesses like Lupus. In Maria’s free time she enjoys spending time with friends and family, volunteering for her school’s relay for life, hiking, and blogging.

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