At the end of May, Twitch finally brought long sought after identity tags to the streaming platform.
Over 350 tags were introduced – with more added since – which focus on various identities: from transgender and other LGBT+ tags, to disabled, Black, and many more.
It was the trans community, however, that led the charge for these tags to be added to the platform: in the form of various campaigns.
For over two years, streamers including Nikatine, MiaByte and MSTRSSFOX campaigned for the inclusion of a trans tag to allow for visibility on Twitch so that trans streamers and viewers could more easily find one another.
In a blog post introducing the identity tags, Twitch addressed the trans community directly.
“We’d like to thank our trans community for originally requesting the ‘transgender’ tag, and for their passion and persistence in pursuit of that request. This has been one of the most popular requests we’ve heard, and the simple truth is that we should have done this sooner,” it reads.
“It took us too long to embrace that there should have been hundreds of ways for creators to share who they are and issues they care about. The Twitch community is incredibly diverse and the tags available to creators should reflect and celebrate that.”
One of the major concerns from Twitch was that the inclusion of a trans tag would increase harassment, despite trans streamers claiming the positives of visibility outweighed these fears.
So, one month on, how has the inclusion of the trans tag impacted trans streamers on Twitch?
Building a trans community
Trans streamer aquarterghost notes the positive impact of the tag on faer community.
“The Transgender tag has had an amazing impact on my community,” fae said. “I’ve met so many other trans folks who are able to find a safe space and it’s improved my experience. As a proud trans streamer I often get trolls and haven’t noticed much of an uptick from the amount I received before. The positives of finding other trans folks have outweighed everything for me.”
Fae have just launched the Transtopia Twitch team, a streaming community aimed specifically at trans and/or gender diverse folks. The team has already gained 32 members from across the globe, by application, providing not only a safe community for trans streamers, but a hub for viewers looking for trans content to identify with.
Many members are proudly using the tag, which has only boosted the visibility of the community.
“It’s definitely helped the team grow!” says aquarterghost. “It’s helped people find us through team members using the tag. It’s been a positive change for the team as well!”
TheProudOwl is one such member of the team who’s similarly seen positive effects.
“Since the trans tag and other discoverable identity tags got implemented, I’ve noticed a major shift in how people find me,” he says.
“Overall, the new identity tags account for 68 percent of my discoverability this past month, and I’ve met many other trans, multiracial and chronically ill people because of the new identity tags. Just yesterday another trans crafter found my stream and was so happy to find people with similar life experiences. The tags do a world of good, they work.”
Empowerment over trolls
Of course, there remain some trolls in chat and harassment remains rife on the platform. Trans hot tub streamer Anne Atomic was recently indefinitely suspended by Twitch due to raids from transphobic viewers. Use of the tag, as well as the newly introduced hot tub category, has certainly played a part in increasing viewership – and, with that, hate.
TheProudOwl chalks up any increase of harassment to Pride Month as much as the use of tags. But he feels just as empowered as ever.
“If people are worried about being attacked, which is a valid concern, I’ve found having a strong mod team and using moderation settings help evade some harmful behaviour,” he says. “I’m not going to let some person throwing virtual rotten tomatoes on me stop me from enjoying my own space. They get kicked out, and we carry on, same as always.”
For Transtopia member CtrlAltQuin, the positives outweigh any harassment.
“I’ve used the trans tag on every single one of my streams since they’ve been added to Twitch,” they say. “Before the trans tag I used the LGBTQIA+ tag and actively advocated for the trans tag and more. There has been a tad bit more harassment, but the positives outweigh the negatives!”
They also note the benefits of using the tag, not only for fellow community members but for personal support too.
“Sadly I am used to being attacked by trolls for my skin color and gender identity,” they say. “I have been able to find more people who share and understand my identity and create safe spaces for those folks as well, that means so much to me. To be honest, knowing and finding people like me has been an emotional support for me as well. The trans tag has changed my stream for the better.”
Variety streamer and team member AnnieMayPlay has a more neutral view.
“Obviously I’ve advocated for a trans tag on Twitch for quite a while now and I always knew I would use it when we got access to it because I do think identity is important to a streamer,” she says.
“In all honesty though, I’ve not really noticed much of anything since using the tag. My Twitch analytics do say that’s the tag people are using to find my channel, but I haven’t seen any jumps, positive or negative. It’s been very neutral!”
It’s clear, then, that the introduction of the trans tag has mostly been a positive for the trans community on Twitch, despite some continuing harassment.
Though Twitch were right to be concerned about potential harassment and protecting trans streamers, the benefits of finding like-minded people helps both streamers and viewers to build a stronger connection.
Trans streamers are among the most resilient people on the platform, not only in dealing with trolls but in their resolute determination to persuade Twitch to introduce the trans tag. Now, at last, they can stream with pride.