Today is the beginning of Transgender Awareness Week. Transgender Awareness Week is a time for transgender people, activists, and allies to raise awareness about the issues that trans people face. It is also a time to promote trans visibility and educate the public on the discrimination that trans people face. Transgender Awareness Week is also a time for celebration. It’s a time to create space, share stories, and work towards changing the societal narrative.
This week is a time to share resources and help educate the cisgender population about the struggles and discrimination that trans people face. It’s a time to let young trans people know that they aren’t alone and that there are resources to support them.
Trans allyship means actively supporting and uplifting transgender people and communities. If you are having trouble knowing where to start or looking to brush up on your skills, check out these tips for advancing your allyship:
- Do your research — don’t wait to be educated, there are plenty of resources out there to educate yourself
- Listen to transgender voices — transgender people are the experts on their own experiences and each person’s experiences are unique
- Understand the intersection of issues — gender, race, sexuality, disability and other personal characteristics intersect and affect how people experience the world. Racism and phobias compound the issues
- Normalize sharing pronouns — introduce yourself with your pronouns to promote inclusivity. Avoid gender binary terms like “ladies” and “gentlemen,” use inclusive terms like “folks” or “friends”
- Challenge transphobic remarks or jokes — speak up when you hear transphobic language and use this as an opportunity to educate
Why Trans Advocacy Is Important
There is a great deal of misinformation in the world when it comes to the lived experience of trans youth.
Most of these trans youth experience barriers that may not even occur to non-trans folks. For instance, imagine trying to use a public washroom as a trans person when only binary “men’s” and “women’s” options are available. Trans youth can face transphobia when looking for housing and mistrust can accompany that phobia, so trans youth may lose out to cisgender applicants.
Receiving an income assistance cheque, filling out a job application, and getting a driver’s license all require your legal name, so trans youth are constantly being reminded about the person and the life that they no longer identify with. The cost of legally changing your name and identity is often out of reach for many trans youth.
Trans youth often end up on the street because they are literally rejected by their families. Most seriously, statistics on the trans rates of suicide or trans rates of homicide show that it really is a matter of life and death to understand and accept trans people. For instance, in a Canadian survey of transgender and gender-nonconforming youth aged 14–25 years, 64% of participants reported that they had seriously considered suicide in the previous 12 months.
If you listen to the 2SLGBTQAI+ community, they will tell you what they need to thrive in this world.
How CHV Supports 2SLGBTQAI+ Youth
The 2SLGBTQAI+ community is grossly overrepresented, both on the streets of Vancouver, and in our care — these youth have often been rejected by their communities simply because they’ve taken the courageous step to show up in the world exactly as they are.
We strive to show 2SLGBTQAI+ youth that they are safe and loved. We do this through a variety of therapeutic and extra-curricular services and activities, such as:
With love and support, trans youth can thrive and enrich our communities. Youth like Jaden. Jaden came to CHV from a hospital setting, as they were dealing with their psychosis and suicidality that stemmed from family not allowing Jaden to be transgender. At that time, Jaden’s art was very dark — black and white compositions full of dead or decaying images.
Over time, Jaden’s artwork has become a flourish of colour and celebration. Jaden is using their artistic talents to create a comic book series to help parents understand what it’s like to live as a transgender person.