Under the influence: Is social media responsible for steep increase in transgender teens coming out?

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Laverne Cox in Orange Is the New Black. (Photo: Myles Aronowitz/Netflix)
Laverne Cox in Orange Is the New Black. (Photo: Myles Aronowitz/Netflix)

No one can deny that there's been a sharp rise in children and teens coming out as transgender, both in South Africa and abroad. There's also little doubt that the sudden increase in gender-nonconforming teens has coincided with the advent of social media and the digital revolution. The connection is obvious, but is it altogether "bad"?

For the most part, millennial parents survived adolescence without the burden of social media. And now that we know what pressures lurk under the watchful gaze of social media, giving Generation Z's access to it as they traverse adolescence can feel sketchy and dangerous.

But, as with most things in life, there is nuance here. Yes, there are obvious pitfalls to social media and internet exposure, but counselling psychologist Jonathan Bosworth also points to how increased access to information can be hugely beneficial for marginalised people, such as those who find themselves on the gender spectrum.

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