LGBTQ+

Meet Van Vincent Go, the trans man who documents his gender transition on YouTube

Marguerite de Leon
Meet Van Vincent Go, the trans man who documents his gender transition on YouTube
'I could finally look in the mirror and say that I’m looking at myself, who I’ve always been deep inside,' shares Vincent about his gender transition journey

MANILA, Philippines – “I’ve always seen myself as a boy, as early as four years old,” said Van Vincent Go, a 29-year-old transgender man from Cebu. 

“It was only when I was about 18 years old when I realized that I was transgender all this time,” he went on. “I came from an all-girls school. A lot of my friends were butch lesbians, and I thought I was the same as them. But as we grew older, I was getting really uncomfortable with my body, and I was asking myself why [I felt that way] when the rest of them didn’t have any issues with the changes in their bodies.”

Vincent sat down with Rappler on Wednesday, January 26, for an exclusive interview about his journey as a transgender individual, as well as being part of YouTube’s NextUp 2021 program, a talent pipeline for discovering and spotlighting underrepresented creators on the platform. His YouTube channel, VandomVincent, details his medical transition to malehood.

Meet Van Vincent Go, the trans man who documents his gender transition on YouTube
Discovering his true self

Fittingly, Vincent first learned about the term “transgender” on YouTube, during his quest to figure out why he had grown so uncomfortable in his own skin. After watching what he said were hundreds of videos on the transgender experience and on SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression), it occurred to him that he was, himself, a transgender man – a person who was assigned female at birth, but whose own gender identity is that of a man.

He was then determined to medically transition – the process of medically changing the way he looked and how people saw him, so that he could become the gender he felt on the inside. 

“There are several ways to transition,” Vincent explained. “There’s physical, there’s medical, there’s social, and there’s even legal transition, when you can change your gender marker and your name [for legal documents].”

The first family member he talked to about his decision was his mother. 

“She didn’t really take it well, but at the time that I came out to her, I was already ready with whatever reaction she would give me,” Vincent said. “My full point of coming out to her was to tell her my plans [to medically transition] – that this is me, this is who I am, this is who I’ve always been.”

Meet Van Vincent Go, the trans man who documents his gender transition on YouTube
Finding the right people 

Before even deciding to start the transition process, however, Vincent had to make sure he found the right doctors. 

“A lot of doctors didn’t actually support this kind of process, so I had to find the right ones to monitor me as I went about my medical transition,” Vincent said. 

He added that this dearth of like-minded doctors led him to co-found the very first trans man support group in Visayas and Mindanao in 2014. 

“Our goal was to make a directory of medical professionals who were trans-friendly, because we live in a very conservative country.”

Apart from finding the right professionals, Vincent stressed that there were other things to think about and prepare for as well.

“Take your finances into consideration, because it’s not just something you pay for [once], and you also have to have emergency funds in case you undergo adverse effects, because you’re dealing with medication,” he said. 

“Medical transitioning can be done through different methods: you can go into hormones, and there’s also surgery. I’ve had top surgery, and I take hormones through intramuscular injections. The pills that we currently have have really high liver toxicity, so it’s not really recommended.”

Sound mental health is also a must, according to Vincent. 

“You have to be completely okay with [the transition process] and everything that comes with it,” he said. “Other people think that once they transition, they’d automatically be accepted by everyone else in their environment. That’s not really true. It depends on who you’re with. It’s not a guarantee that people are going to look at you differently, because you’re still the same person, and the people around you who do not really believe in these things are still the same people.” 

CHANGES. Vincent pre-transition (L) and during the transition process (R). Photo courtesy of Van Vincent Go.
Telling his story

Once his transition process was underway, every change in Vincent’s body boosted his confidence greatly. 

“I was really excited with everything: the deepening of my voice, the body fat redistribution wherein my body would look more masculine,” he shared. “I could finally look in the mirror and say that I’m looking at myself, who I’ve always been deep inside.”

He also realized that the process was something he wanted to share more publicly.

“I literally watched hundreds of videos on YouTube about trans guys, but the thing was, they were mostly in western countries, and I could not find a Filipino trans guy who documented their transition,” he explained. “So that’s when I thought, what if more trans guys in the Philippines would look for that? And at the same time, I also really wanted to document my transition because I wanted to have something to look back on. And I’m glad I did, because during days when I’m really down, I look at how far I’ve come, and they remind me of how much of a struggle it was before, so it also makes me feel better.”

Since 2014, Vincent has uploaded video after video on his channel, sharing the gradual changes his body underwent during his transition – from the removal of his breast tissue via surgery for a more masculine chest, to the deepening of his voice and growing of his facial hair. He also shared FAQs on his procedures, as well as tidbits on his personal life. 

In 2021, he decided to try out for YouTube’s NextUp program to take his channel to the next level, and won a coveted slot alongside other niche content creators – including a chicken farmer and a Maranao filmmaker. 

“My NextUp experience has been really unforgettable. It has really helped broaden the reach of my advocacy, since NextUp always represents a diverse set of creators, which means that we got to learn about each other’s backgrounds,” he said. “And I was able to educate some of them, who have not at all encountered a single trans man in their lives.”

“I learned so much about creating content, and it will help me in the making of my videos, creating more informative, inspiring content, and also helping me find my rhythm, and even reaching more people to tell my story. Being part of NextUp gave me a support system,” he added.

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What’s next? 

Fresh from his NextUp experience, Vincent is determined to keep providing quality content on the transgender experience through his channel, especially since conversations about the LGBTQ+ can be quite dynamic.

“I’m working on making a series of educational videos about our trans community – with updated information. Our experts find new information every now and then, and our politically correct terms keep evolving, so it’s nice to be aware of all these things,” he said.

If you feel that you may be transgender yourself, and would like to explore the transition process, Vincent has some sound advice: don’t rush into things.  

“It’s never a race,” he stressed. “Take as much time as you need. Educate yourself as much as you can. And always make sure you have medical supervision before you decide to start your medical transition. That’s the most important thing.” – Rappler.com

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Marguerite de Leon

Marguerite Alcazaren de Leon heads Rappler’s Life and Style, Entertainment, and Opinion sections. She has been with Rappler since 2013, and also served as its social media producer for six years. She is also a fictionist.