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Gender queer, androgyny, gender fluid, demi girl/guy, intersex, gender variant, agender, gender neutral, two spirit, gender identity vs. biological sex, cisgender, transgender: It’s a mouthful of a vocabulary, but these are only a handful of the terms Ashley Mardell and many of her famous YouTube friends explain in under 20 minutes in her series The ABC’s of LGBT.
Four months ago, Mardell released the first episode of the series with the purpose of exploring misunderstood and overlooked gender identities such as omnisexual, polysexual, and pansexual. Due to the video’s popularity and the numerous gender identities that weren’t included, Mardell went on to produce two more videos that called upon the expertise of gender diversity experts, educators, activists, and fellow YouTubers such as transgender creators Skylar Keleven and Uppercase Chase. In turn, this series has become one of the largest collaborative projects among the LGBT community alongside YouTube’s #ProudtoPlay and #ProudtoLove campaigns.
The series has already made a difference to members of the LGBTQ and ally communities alike. As one commenter put it:
“As a straight, cis male, I can’t really personally relate to anything non-binary, but I sure as hell love learning about it all. It’s all so interesting, and I’m glad that so many people are proud enough to be different from what’s considered ‘normal’ by society that they’re putting themselves out there to teach people like me, who know really nothing about all the different gender and sexuality identifications, about them. So thanks for that. ”
The series is perfect because it simultaneously provides education for the cisgender ally community and resources for individuals in the process of discovering their own gender identities.
Mardell herself first joined YouTube in 2009 and has since devoted her channel to being a central hub for LGBT advocacy and education. Mardell is a definite cheerleader for the underdog, as she consistently collaborates with and praises the smaller, creative, passionate creators that make the platform so great. Through this series and her numerous other passion projects, Mardell is making YouTube a better place—and making all of us a whole lot smarter.
Screengrab via Ashley Mardell/YouTube
Carly Lanning is a journalist who covers social media. Her work has been published by Psychology Today, NBC, Thrillist, and Ms. Magazine.