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In a YouTube comeback we didn’t see coming, classic content creator Charlie McDonnell (also known by her online alias “charlieissocoollike”) has returned to the platform with a reintroduction video after coming out as a trans woman – and it’s rather wonderful.
McDonnell - who found fame on YouTube through videos and series such as ‘Fun Science’, ‘Duet with Myself’ and ‘Challenge Charlie’ – posted a “gender reveal” on Instagram in October, writing that they now use she/they pronouns.
In the opening to a Q&A video titled ‘What happened to charlieissocoollike’, released on Thursday, McDonnell said: “So yeah, I’m a transgender woman, my pronouns are she/they, and I am continuing to use the name Charlie - those are the headlines.
“I have decided that I am interested in, sort of, dipping my toe back into the waters of YouTube, seeing how it feels.
“I’ve been gone for quite a while, a lot’s changed, and I felt like maybe, if I came back, perhaps I might enjoy doing it again?”
It was in 2019 that McDonnell, who was the first UK YouTuber to hit one million subscribers on the platform, decided to step away from the site to pursue scriptwriting, telling The Guardian a year later she was “working the filmmaker grind” but hadn’t “ruled out coming back to YouTube entirely”.
She confirmed in Thursday’s video that making videos on their YouTube channel – which currently has more than two million subscribers, “made me feel unhappy”.
The 32-year-old said: “When I decided I was gonna leave YouTube, the kind of reason I gave people was I felt like I came up with this internet persona, charlieissocoollike, when I was 16 years old.
“Clearly, I was not that person, and so I felt like it was really beneficial to me to take this big step away from YouTube to be able to really figure out who the hell I am, and I’ve done a lot of work on that.
“I do think that not having to worry about being ‘charlieissocoollike’ really did help me to have the space to figure out who I actually am.”
What happened to charlieissocoollike? | A Reintroduction Q&Awww.youtube.com
They also said they felt they could “bring my true self” to YouTube, and that all past videos on her account have now been made private.
“As I was going through the process of coming out publicly as transgender, it was important to me to make sure that any internet space that I have control over presented me as the person that I am now, in the gender identity that I have.
“So I went through the process on all of my social media … just removing any images of myself where I was male-presenting and I went through that process on YouTube as well,” she said, adding they “appreciate” viewers enjoyed her old videos and may make them unlisted in the future.
In response to a question asking what their younger self would have benefited from knowing in hindsight, she joked it would be “you’re a woman”, before saying the “actual advice” would be that “it is OK to change”.
They continued: “Being able to go back to my younger self and be like, ‘you can be whoever you want, don’t let anybody else’s perception of you impact the person that you want to be. It’s OK to explore yourself.”
Bringing the video to an even more poignant conclusion, McDonnell answered a question which simply asked them how they were, confirming that she was doing good and feeling good.
“I’m feeling more confident than I ever have, I’m feeling happy, and I’m not gonna pretend that life is easy, but I’m excited by my life right now. I feel like I’m living my life right now.
“I didn’t feel like I was really there for it before, and I feel like I’m in it now. I’m present, and that feels pretty good, man.
“That’s the truth. I wasn’t really living my live until now. [It] feels good to be living it.”
Since the video went live, subscribers and viewers have flooded McDonnell’s comments with positive messages, with musician and fellow YouTuber dodie writing: “Love the way you so kindly set boundaries. This was so lovely to watch! Thank u and congrats!”
“Charlie, all I can say is, I’ve had a huge grin on my face since this video started. It’s clear from where I’m standing that this is a happier, healthier you,” responded another.
A third posted: “Watching this is like getting a hug from an old friend. I watched Charlie in middle school, and I’m 26 now. In some ways it’s the same person, but a better, happier version.”
We’re here for all the joy, to be honest.
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