Bathroom Access Is Battleground, But Transgender Fight Goes Far Beyond That

Written by Jennifer Levi, staff attorney at GLAD, friend and advisor to TYEF, originally published in the Boston Globe.

BATHROOM ACCESS is hardly the fight that transgender advocates would have picked. But when opponents of transgender equality make that the issue (“Texas bill would limit bathroom access,” Daily Briefing, Jan. 6), we can’t shy away.

Still, let’s not lose sight of the fact that when a student cannot go to the bathroom while in school, they cannot get an education; when someone cannot use a bathroom in an airport, they cannot travel; and when a patient cannot use the bathroom in an emergency room, they cannot get medical care.

Laws like the one recently proposed in Texas and the one in place in North Carolina, while at a surface level addressing “bathroom access,” go far deeper. They mark transgender people with a stain of exclusion that is not easily undone.

Access to bathrooms is certainly important for anyone. It is for Gavin Grimm, the Virginia high school student whose case has reached the Supreme Court and will be heard this year. But what is at stake in the case is his right to an education, free of harassment and hostility, on the same basis as his fellow students.

Let this be unmistakable: The struggle for equality for transgender people is not ultimately about bathrooms. It’s about dignity, equality, and full inclusion in society.

ACQUIRING RESILENCE and MINDFULNESS: TEN TIPS for TRANS YOUTH, FAMILIES, and TEACHERS

The importance of resilience for transgender children and teens cannot be overstated. The transgender experience brings uncharted and unfamiliar waters and often a plethora of tidal waves for many children and youth-- along with some refreshing reprieves and welcome weeks and months of smooth sailing. Clearly, learning coping skills and acquiring a strong belief in oneself and in the power of hope, are essential survival skills. “Resilience is the individual’s ability to withstand and recover from stress and perceived or real obstacles. A resilient person is able to thrive in spite of setbacks and challenges experienced in everyday living (Brill and Kenney, The Transgender Teen, p. 264).” Brill and Kenney contend that the youth or teen’s perceptions of not belonging, as well as their feelings of being a burden to others, frequently predict depression and suicide. However, if youth are able and ready to form a positive gender identity, their resilience to challenging life conditions also increases. Brill and Kenney maintain that three key components that support positive gender identity are (a) family acceptance; (b) social support (schools and friends, community, and professionals); and (c) self-pride.

Paralleling the resiliency defense for the transgender individual is the defense of mindfulness; that is, the individual’s process of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences that are presently occurring, often developed through the practice of meditation and thought-altering training. (Brill, 2016; Cardaciotti, L, Herbert, J.D., Foroma, E.M., Moitra, E., & Farrow, V., (2008). Because of its usefulness in handling emotions, mindfulness is gaining worldwide recognition and implementation. The practice of mindfulness holds the promise of embracing a deeper unity between ourselves and others that simultaneously serves to enhance our lives and theirs (Kabat-Zinn, 2012). Specific strategies in managing emotions and developing mindfulness that are useful to all individuals and, perhaps, specifically the transgender teen, include the following (Brill, 2016; Neff, 2011; Kabbat-Zinn (2012); Kornfield, (2008):

1. Teach your child or youth the art of managing emotions; demonstrate mindfulness techniques on a daily basis using real life situations to practice and learn. For example, after a family disagreement, analyze the situation and discuss how it might have been handled more calmly with each family member allowed to respectfully voice their feelings and concerns and offer solutions.

2. In schools, at home, and in groups, practice and teach meditation and yoga techniques. Classroom teachers may wish to allocate a weekly or semi-weekly time slot in which a yoga instructor visits the class and, using music, speech, and instructions, the youth learn meditation and relaxation strategies. Conversely, schools and communities may offer after-school or weekend yoga classes.

3. Help your child or youth learn about mindfulness; together, take the 25-item online Mindfulness Quiz from Greater Good. Calculate each person’s scores. Discuss where improvement is needed and how to increase your mindfulness and acceptance of your own faults, shortcomings, fears, and areas of regret or sadness as well as develop compassion and understanding for yourself and for all others.

4. Help your child or teen to choose emotionally stable, supportive friends. Monitor group interactions and, when needed, intervene to remind children to show respect and open-mindedness for all. Enlist children’s and youth’s literature with supportive messages to encourage children and youth to accept others who are different from themselves. The Trans Youth Equality Foundation (TYEF) has compiled an extensive and up-to- date Book Listing for several groups including young children, youth, and teens and adults/providers. (For more information about high quality recommended books for and about transgender individuals, please visit Resources on this website.)

5. As a family or class, develop expectations for conflict management skills; assign weekly times for sharing, talking, and expressing emotions. Assign tasks, also, to manage the day. Increase listening and sharing time. Set rules for respecting others, using a respectful voice, and not interrupting. Establish natural consequences for not following mindfulness rules; for example, if one child consistently interrupts or talks over other children, that child loses their opportunity to share that day.

6. Be aware of, and involved in, your child or teen’s daily life, including their activities, friends, books, games, television shows, talents, accomplishments, and challenges. Celebrate accomplishments to encourage continual motivation and growth.

7. Maintain physical health; ensure sufficient sleep time. For example, some families limit the use of computers and other technological devices for non-school subjects to one hour per day for non-school subjects on week days and two hours per day on weekends. Availability of additional time sans technology will allow for more of the following in the child’s or youth’s life: (a) family and friend interactions and outdoor outings; (b) real-life situations; (c) time to exercise mindfulness; (d) development of talents; (e) sleep and meditation; and (f) physical activity.

8. Take “sensory walks.” Identify opportunities for experiencing nature each day. Experience all of the senses such as hearing the snow crunch beneath our feet and the woodpecker calls, smelling the pine trees, tasting the healthy snacks from the backpack, seeing the colors of the trees and the sky and observing the cloud formations, and touching the rough bark of the tree trunks and the smooth feel of the grass. Adults report that youth are rejuvenated and more focused on tasks following periods of outdoor play, walking, and exercise.

9. Try “raisin meditation.” Distribute one raisin to each child or youth in your group. Ask them to chew it slowly and notice the texture and taste of the raisin. Urge students and group members to pay more attention to the food and drinks that they consume in their daily lives and to practice mindful eating; again, the adult plays an important role in modeling healthy and mindful eating.

10. “Body Scan Meditation:” Help your group members or students to accept and love their own bodies, regardless of their girth or height. Body dysphoria, which is a manifestation of body discomfort, anxiety, or body loathing, is common among transgender children and youth. With transgender individuals, particularly, it is important to stress the power of “yet.” For example, remind them that, although some aspects of their bodies are not yet the way they would like them to be, in time, and through puberty blockers, hormone replacement therapy, possibly surgery, and/or selected clothing and hair styling, their appearances and voices can and will change. For individuals who are transgender and gender fluid, help them to recognize aspects about their bodies and themselves that they like, such as kind eyes, graceful hands, beautiful hair, art talent, or great coordination. Remind them, also, that beauty is only skin deep, and that the real person lies within.

Share this poignant message with your transgender child or friend, “Once upon a time, someone drew a line in the sands of culture and proclaimed with great self- importance, “On this side you are a man; on the other side you are a woman.” It’s time for the winds of change to blow that line away.” Remind them that the winds of change are always blowing and that the cycle of life ensures us that events and circumstances are guaranteed to be different tomorrow and next year from how they appear and effect us today.

-Kate Bornstein, Gender Outlaw (1994, Routledge)

 

Susan Trostle Brand, D.Ed.

Trans Youth Equality Foundation Board Advisor

Professor of Education and Social Justice

University of Rhode Island

Copyright 2016

The Recent Presidential Election Stunned Us All... LOOKING TO DR. KING FOR STRENGTH

Dear Friends and Families,

 

The recent presidential election stunned us all. Many of us are experiencing feelings of shock, sadness, disbelief, anxiety, and fear. Now, more than ever, it is time for us to reach out to others who support us and love us. For others who do not share our beliefs, we need to find understanding, peaceful solutions, and unity. It is also critically important to love ourselves and believe in our own self-worth.

Martin Luther King, Jr. has always been one of our favorite leaders and civil rights activists. He fought for peace and equality for all citizens and made a tremendous difference in the lives of so many. He changed our country and helped to make our nation one that respected everyone, regardless of skin color or ethnicity.

Given our nation’s recent political events and unsettled climate, some of Reverend King’s words and quotes we’ve included below seem particularly relevant. We hope that you find his words of wisdom helpful and inspiring. Remember, too, that we are here for you: We want to listen to you and support you. Just call or email us. We are always here for you!  

Sending you hope, our love and hugs, and wishes for a bright and promising tomorrow!

Susan Maasch and Susan Trostle Brand

Trans Youth Equality Foundation

www.tyef.org

 

 

1. Focus on the light in the midst of the darkness: Replace hate with love.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

 

2. Love is stronger than hate. Even when others do not agree with you, try to find common ground and understand them.

“I have decided to stick with love...hate is too great a burden to bear.”

 

       

 

 

 

 

3. Never give up. Stand up for what is right and good in yourself and in the world.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

 

 

4. Keep moving forward and upward. Do not let obstacles keep you from reaching your goals.

“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

 

 

5. Look for the rainbow at the end of the storm and the “silver lining” in the clouds. Focus on what is good and promising in life.

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
 

 

6. True happiness and fulfillment are achieved by service to others.

“Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

 

11-29-16 blog post picture 6.jpg

 

7. Never lose hope!

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

 

 

8. Believe in yourself and your dreams. You have a bright future ahead! Live each day, and make your dreams come true.

“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”
 

Redefining Holidays for Families with Transgender Children: Six Tips from Parents of Trans Kids

As parents of transgender children and advocates of equality for all children

and families, we collaborated to share our experiences and advice at this

joyful and yet challenging time of the year, especially for transgender

children and their families.

 

Susan Maasch’s Story:

When my child, Kyle, was six years old, he whispered in my ear that he

needed surgery. I was shocked. His tone was very serious. He told me he

was a boy and he needed help. Like most parents, I assumed this was

probably a phase. But a phase is not ongoing, consistent and persistent. Once

he uttered these words out loud, Kyle was determined. I finally understood.

This was ten years ago and there were almost no resources. The pediatrician

wanted to support us but did not know where to turn. We were left on our

own.

 

As a very resourceful person, I found the one or two resources available in

the country. I decided to found the Trans Youth Equality Foundation so that

other parents did not have to navigate this journey alone. I have since met

many parents who wanted to support their kids and others who refused to. I

have seen tragedy as a result. I refuse to let my child lose hope. Though it

was very tough to witness my child suffering discrimination at school, at the

local park, and in our community, we also received much love and support.

As a young adult, my child has expressed that, without the acceptance he

had with family, and without medical transition, he would not be alive today.

We believe him.

 

We are fortunate. Holidays for our family have been very happy times. We

have a very small family and everyone was immediately accepting of our

child. While widespread acceptance might be the case for you, we know this

is not the case for many of TYEF families. Using their combined stories,

gathered over the years, we came up with some hints for making the

holidays friendly, warm and fun for everyone.

 

Susan Brand's Story:

Twenty-two years ago, I totally missed the signs of my young daughter’s

true gender identity. She was a girl born into a boy’s body. Jessica’s penis

was purple, bruised from repeatedly slamming the toilet lid down upon it.

When I questioned her, she matter-of-factly replied, “I don’t want it.”

Because I was a single mother, I reasoned that her behavior was simply due

to the fact that she was going through a brief phase in wanting to act and

look more like me, including having a female body. Our pediatrician agreed.

We were right about her desire for female genitalia but dead wrong about

the brief phase.

 

Two years ago, at age 22, Jessica underwent sexual reassignment surgery in

San Francisco. I’ve never seen her happier nor more herself.  She was a girl

all along, but couldn’t bring herself to tell me for 16 long years. Now, with

the exciting and potentially stressful holiday season approaching, we’ll share

some additional stories and suggestions for your trans child or youth from

our first-hand, school of hard knocks lessons as Moms of trans kids.

 

First: Preparation. If your trans child has come out to you, but not to

others, it’s best to prepare family and friends in advance of a large holiday

gathering. Remind them to use the correct pronouns—him/her or he/she or

gender neutral “they.” If you have a host relative who gathers the family for

holiday events, ask them for support with the unaccepting relative. Let them

know you will only attend if you are reassured they will respect your child.

Ask them to talk to this relative.

 

Be prepared for a variety of reactions from friends and relatives. Be patient

with them. This is new and often unexpected news to them. Sometimes, it

may take months or even years for friends and relatives to adjust to your

child’s new identity and to accept your child as they are. For example, Susan

Brand’s late mother, who later accepted the fact that her grandson was really

her granddaughter, reacted to our startling news with a stated conviction that

Jessica required the services of an exorcist! We understood that her

traditional approach to gender roles and her religious convictions interfered

with what was, to her, revolutionary. We told other family members and

friends individually, either by email, phone, or in person, but never “outed”

Jessica. We only told others with her permission or asked her to tell them,

herself.

 

Second: Clothing. Allow your trans child or youth to dress as they wish for

the holiday gatherings. If your trans boy child decides to wear short hair and

a baseball hat, so be it. If your trans girl child wants to wear a pink dress and

hair bow, enthusiastically support her. Role modeling your pride in your

child or youth and their appearance and behaviors will pave the way for

others to do the same.

 

Third: Respect Freedom of Choice. Collaborate on a gift list and shop together

online or in stores to make the holidays a joyful time of being oneself. Consider

gender neutral toys like puzzles, stuffed animals, board games, and books. Make a

day to go shopping and enjoy exploring with your child what they like. If they are

newly transitioned, they might be exploring their real interests and tastes at

this time. Get excited about this new journey with them. Be a good listener.

Ensure that you inform family and friends about gender-appropriate or

gender-neutral gifts. When purchasing a gift for a gender non-conforming child,

ask them or their parents what they want.  Check out Amazon Wish List online

and tell the child to add items they would like. Tell them you will choose

from the list and surprise them. Be aware that sometimes surprises that

you choose without your child’s input may backfire.

 

When Jessica was two, we attended a preschool Christmas Breakfast,

culminating with a visit from Santa and gifts for children. While

little girls opened their voluptuous Barbie dolls, I was smug in the

knowledge that I’d chosen the perfect gift for Jessica—a bright red fire truck

with macho little firemen, a three-foot expanding ladder, and a real siren. To

my confusion, when Jessica tore off the wrapping paper of her boy’s gift, her

reaction was loud wailing and hiding under the table for 20 minutes. Nothing

would calm her down. “I wanted a Barbie!” were her only words. She

sobbed inconsolably during the whole ride home.

 

Fourth: Beware of Safety. Be mindful of the physical safety of the toys

your trans child buys or receives. For her seventh birthday, Jessica’s aunt

bought her a toy carpentry kit, complete with a miniature sharp-toothed saw.

Years later, Jessica revealed to me that she tried to saw off her offending

parts. My walking down the stairs and proximity to her brought a timely halt

to her near castration. 14 years later, Jessica’s acceptance as the girl she is

and her sexual reassignment surgery brought her the sought-after release and

the freedom she craved.

 

Fifth: Start New Holiday Traditions. Make sure that holidays feel safe and

comfortable for your trans child. If things don’t work out well in your

“coming out” efforts, make sure your trans child knows that, although you are

frustrated and sad, you are looking forward to creating new holiday

traditions. Plan together to design these new traditions. Celebrate change,

love, acceptance and strength. Make it magic, and look forward to the

new. Remember your chosen family and friends and invite them to join you.

 

Sixth: Reach Out. Join trans groups or others who are like-minded in

holiday celebrations. Look into your local and/or regional LGBT or

transgender support organizations for holiday gatherings. Building

community is a great way to show your child that we redefine family by

looking within our community as well.

 

Summary:

Choose the best plan that will make the holiday fun and comfortable for you

and your trans child. For us, this gender journey has been challenging, but

also beautiful. We have learned a lot about differences, respect, love, and

ally-ship. We have learned about giving back to the community by helping

other kids and families. We want everyone to know that we are just as in

love with our children as you are with yours. We are so thankful for everyone

who has stood with us and continues to support us. At this holiday season,

we express gratitude to you, our families and friends, and especially to our

beloved trans children. You are among our lives' richest treasures.

 

Susan Maasch / Director

Trans Youth Equality Foundation

contact@transyouthequality.org

www.transyouthequality.org

facebook: trans youth equality foundation

 

Susan Trostle Brand, D.Ed. / Professor of Education and Social Justice

University of Rhode Island

Consultant and Advocate, Trans Youth Equality Foundation

www.transyouthequality.org

 

Susan Maasch is the founder and Executive Director of the national non-profit Trans

Youth Equality Foundation. She is a presenter at national conferences for transgender

rights, an advocate for transgender youth and their families, and the director of the

popular summer and fall camps for transgender children called TYEF Camp. Susan

has educated people on transgender youth issues for the past ten years, and this year alone served

almost 2,000 individuals. Susan is the author of articles and chapters addressing the trans youth

population, and is also often interviewed by the press about important issues relating to the well

being of transgender youth. She is also the proud mother of a transgender young man who is

thriving at college and loves life.

contact@transyouthequality.org

 

Susan Trostle Brand, D. Ed.

Susan Trostle Brand is the proud mother of a 24-year-old trans daughter, Jessica. She is a

professor of Education and Social Justice at the University of Rhode Island and, along

with her daughter, Jessica, frequently presents at regional and international conferences

and universities on transgender issues. Jessica and Susan are featured in an upcoming

documentary entitled “What I’m Made Of,” scheduled for release in 2017. At URI, Dr.

Brand teaches Education and Social Justice “Grand Challenge” courses and serves on the

President’s Diversity Task Force Panel, the President’s Commission on LGBT and the

LGBT Faculty Fellows Group. Dr. Brand is also the author and co-author of several

articles, textbook chapters, and books addressing underserved populations and is writing a textbook

on social justice. Dr. Brand specializes in literature suitable for young trans children

and youth. She serves as an LGBT advisor for school districts in Rhode Island. 

In her free time, Dr. Brand spends quality time with her three young daughters and

three misbehaved cats.

 

 

Choosing a Good Therapist for Your Child or Yourself

How to find a therapist:

First, talk with your doctor about your situation, how you feel, your child’s symptoms. He or she will no doubt know therapists who can help with your specific issues. There are other places to start besides your primary care doctor, too. For example, many employee health care plans offer confidential help lines where you can ask questions and find therapists in your network. Another source is the National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline (1-800-950-6264).There are many kinds of professionals who offer many different types of therapy. Their individual approaches are based on their particular training and experience. The main ones include:

Psychiatrist. A doctor with a medical degree who can prescribe medication. He or she often helps with more severe issues, such as major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

Psychologist. A professional who has a PhD or a PsyD in clinical psychology. He or she can treat a full range of emotional and psychological issues, such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, but in most states cannot prescribe medication.

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). He or she has a master’s degree plus 2,000 hours of supervised psychotherapy experience. This type of mental health professional focuses on the problems of everyday living, like stress and anxiety, relationship conflicts, and mild depression.

Clinician Nurse Specialist. Like psychiatrists, he or she can prescribe medication. This type of professional works either independently or in collaboration with a supervising physician.

Licensed Social Worker/Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. Similar to a counselor in terms of education and training, a social worker focuses on solving social problems, connecting clients with appropriate resources, and helping with referrals to other professionals, if needed. - Harvard Medical School Newsletter

TYEF belongs to a gender therapy collaborative and can help locate a trained gender therapist in your area or give you hints how to find one. Some of these questions might help you gain insight about the training or level of interest of a therapist. You might find some more important then others. Ask the therapist, do you have any experience with trans youth? What ages? How many? Do you go to gender conferences? Do you read journals or books about transgender youth?Do you follow WPATH Standards of care? Do you see them as guidelines? Do you object to transition medical care for youth? Do you feel comfortable discussing the gender spectrum?If you are not happy with your choice you can always change. Contact TYEF for support! contact@transyouthequality.org

We have a famous saying at TYEF! We teach the kids that “reaching out is a sign of strength.” Encourage them to share and keep communication open.

WHEN A TEEN COMES OUT TO YOU

 

  • Thank them for trusting you and having the courage to tell you.
  • Respect their confidentiality and assure them you will keep it.
  • Provide the teen with support, care and empathy and gently ask who else they have told. It is not your right to tell others. Unless, of course the teen is in danger.
  • Assure them you still care for them. Some teens fear that when they come out, they will be rejected.
  • Learn about organizations, support groups and books that can be helpful to the teen and share this with them. Refer them to www.transyouthequality.org
  • Being a good listener shows respect and being heard is part of the healing process.
  • Attend workshops, read journal articles, know local resources and be openminded about learning more. Encourage the teen to build community within the trans youth groups you know of or in LGBT groups regionally.

Relieving Dysphoria: Trans Boys

A trans boy issue: packing. To pack or not to pack. A mother contacted us today to ask for the best resource for buying a packer for her son. Yet, one mad mom contacted us a while ago to ask if we thought it was "reasonable" that she should have to have a "fake penis" in her house! And one mom told their son they would upgrade their packer for christmas, after all, some models can be very expensive..... so there is a gift idea! If you feel you can, you can open this conversation. We find some boys pack and it really helps them, some don't  care to at all. If your son needs to/wants to then read this guide or read it together. Finding ways to relieve dysphoria is crucial. When kids hide they use materials that are not helpful,sometimes unsafe, they get frustrated and have one more thing to hide. We encourage open conversation as hard as it might seem. Packers are now made for very young boys as well. We have also written about safe and comfortable gaffs and taping for girls and can reload that again for our trans daughters! Here is your guide for packers: http://www.ftmguide.org/packing.html

Coming Out

Coming out experiences vary greatly. Some parents will be encouraging from the start. They may have suspected all along that their son or daughter is gay or transgender, and become use to the idea over time. Other parents may be completely shocked. They could react with anger, sadness, fear, or any mix of these emotions. It is completely normal for parents not to be supportive of their child’s transition at first. Many parents go through what is called a “grieving process”; they feel they have lost their son or daughter because their child wants to transition to the other or correct gender. In reality, their child is the same child they have had all along. Some parents take a long time to understand this.

If your parents are not totally on-board with your transition at first, there are a few things you can do to help them understand. First, ask them to read about transgender youth. Books like “The Transgender Child” by Brill can be extremely helpful for parents who don’t know very much about transgender youth.  You can also refer them to websites and organizations that can provide them with more knowledge as well as support from other parents in the same situation. The Trans Youth Equality Foundation (www.transyouthequality.org) and Transitioning Families (www.transitioningfamilies.org) are just a couple of these websites and organizations. Ask your parents to get you or the family a therapist as well, preferably a therapist who specializes in transgender issues and has experience working with transgender youth. Finally, there are many support groups for transgender youth and their parents across the country. ( and at TYEF in Portland Maine,both for youth and their families) If you can find one in your area, encourage your parents to go with you. You would be amazed to see some of the changes that happen in parents when they are able to discuss their concerns and fears with people who are going through the same thing. TYEF can help you find one in your region!

We want your coming out experience to be as positive as possible. If you feel it is simply not safe to tell your parents perhaps an older sibling, trusted family member, friend or counselor should be present. Always remember that all of us at TYEF are here for you. We will certainly support you through this process. We can discuss this with your parents to help them understand better. Don’tbe shy to call or text us anytime. 207-478-4087 and leave a message with your name and contact. Or email us at contact@transyouthequality.org. It’s always smart to reach out! Take good care of yourself by knowing when to reach out to adults who can support you!

p.s. If it's holiday time.  When coming out ask your parents if you can talk over the holiday plans. Be honest about your feelings and how deep they are.  Let them know if you feel pressured or down about the anticipation of coming out to your family and friends. Some families will write a letter or private FB message to all people they are sharing the holiday with. For example they can say they are supporting you by using the right pronouns and name and a brief description of what transgender and transition means. They often state that they would like to ask everyone else to please support you in these ways and to be respectful so you can also feel safe and calm and look forward to your holiday. Preparing relatives and asking for respect is better then just appearing as the transitioned you as never before!  lol We welcome hearing about what has worked for you.

Big hugs to all supportive families!!!!!  written by a TYEF youth intern and the staff!

Leelah Alcorn Passing: A Response From Trans Youth Equality Foundation

Trans Youth Equality Foundation youth building community at TYEF camp.

Trans Youth Equality Foundation's Board of Directors had an immediate response on Facebook and Twitter to the passing of Leelah Alcorn. Like many others in the trans advocacy community, we are devastated. We have experienced similar loss among our youth.... Most parents of trans youth fear this kind of tragedy as the numbers of trans youth who express suicidality, and even take their lives, is high. We like to note that many of these same youth have moved away from this painful experience after parents, schools and doctors helped to show them proper support and unconditional love and acceptance. We have many stories of youth who have felt this desire is in their past. Many of them credit their relationship with TYEF as a critical component getting past these feelings. That is why we do the work we do.

This second formal response is different. We logged over 30 phone calls per day from youth and parents since this tragic loss. We averaged an overwhelming 50 plus emails per day, and of course much reach out on our social networks. We returned contact to our youth first and the board and volunteers have been fantastic and dedicated to reaching out to the best of our ability with a response that is helpful and caring. We all know that Leelah's passing has gotten a great deal of media attention and has been overwhelming for many. 

As we read through the comments, we saw that so many people were triggered, saddened, feeling frustrated and helpless or galvanized to do more for trans youth. We noticed one thing often lacking. And that is  the missed opportunity to remind youth to reach out to trans specific organizations for advocacy, connection and resources. There has been reminders to youth in crisis to contact Trevor Helpline or a local crisis center. Now lets all make a special effort to forward these youth and their parents onto organizations that have special ability to help them in general. These organizations, like ours, can help youth build community, get the resources they need and prevent isolation and depression. Reaching out, meeting other trans youth, this is life saving for many. 

TYEF is asking each trans specific organization to also spread the word and upload information about other organizations so we can all have excellent regional and national reach. There are kids and parents that still do not know where to turn.  Some LGBT organizations are amazing at offering trans resources and some have limited resources to share. We encourage everyone to find a local trans specific or LGBT organization for support. But when you can not find one, as many in underserved areas can not, please reach out to one of the few national or active regional organizations for support. Tell a youth you know, spread the word to school counselors, providers, pediatricians, parents and youth. This is the time to share the contact information of trans youth specific organizations to your social media networks and your trans friends and youth. This is the time for every trans specific organization to rally and support each other.  If as an organization, you have not listed the organizations below, please do it now. Let's unify so that any child or parent who contacts you can be aware of all available resources, no matter where they live.

Listed below are the organizations we know about with some national reach and strong resources, Send these out to your networks. In addition, please add to this list any regional support you know of as well. Also, to each organization listed here, please take the time, to add TYEF and others to your resources page on the web and do extra shout outs about us all to honor Leelah and all trans youth. Let's collectively get the word out now. Thank you.

Trans Youth Equality Foundation: A National 501c3 foundation that supports and advocates for transgender and gender nonconforming youth, their families and providers. TYEF holds summer,fall and spring camps and retreats.

www.transyouthequality.org

contact@transyouthequality.org

Trans Youth Family Allies: Empowers young people and their families through support,education and outreach about gender identity and expression.

www.imatyfa.org

info@imatyfa.org

TransActive Gender Center: Provides a holistic range of services and expertise to empower transgender and gender non conforming children, youth and their families in living healthy lives, free of discrimination.

https://www.transactiveonline.org/about/

info@transactiveonline.org

Transgender Law Center: Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.

http://transgenderlawcenter.org

Gender Spectrum: provides education,training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for children of all ages.

https://www.genderspectrum.org

info@genderspectrum.org