In honor of Transgender Awareness Week, The Borum, a program of Fenway Health that works with young people ages 12–29, is raising awareness of the issues faced by trans youth.
Fenway Health is observing Transgender Awareness Week by highlighting the health disparities affecting the transgender community. At The Borum, our focus is on young people ages 12–29, so we wanted to highlight some of the challenges faced by trans and gender non-conforming youth—and stress the need to do more to support and care for them.
Up to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT. In New York, the average age a transgender youth becomes homeless is 13.5. Homeless LGBT youth are at greater risk of being sexually assaulted and engaging in sex work than their heterosexual peers. Transgender youth face an added hurdle—many youth shelters house people based on sex assigned at birth and not gender identity.
In one survey, 45% of transgender youth had seriously considered taking their own lives.
Surveys of young trans women living in urban areas showed increased involvement in sex work, risk of HIV infection, and alcohol and drug use.
These numbers are clear indications that we need to do more to support and empower trans youth. At The Borum, our approach to transgender health care doesn’t presume that trans clients have a mental or medical illness. Rather we believe that trans people, as a result of discrimination, are often stigmatized and isolated and can benefit from supportive counseling, advocacy, and comprehensive care.
There is cause for hope, though. The GLSEN survey that found 80% of trans students felt unsafe at school also found a significant increase in positive representation of LGBT topics in schools. More families are publicly sharing and celebrating their experiences with raising transgender young people. And in Massachusetts, state lawmakers approved a measure to create a commission to study the issue of unaccompanied homeless youth in the Commonwealth.
Let’s use Transgender Awareness Week as an opportunity to build on this progress and stand up for trans youth!