LGBT Health 11.12.2012

Transgender Awareness Week: Stand Up For 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.

Share the infographic above on Facebook and Tumblr.

As the infographic above illustrates, discrimination can create significant barriers to trans youth living happy healthy lives:

  • In GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey, 80% of transgender students reported feeling unsafe at school because of their gender expression.
  • 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.
You can help raise awareness of the issues facing trans youth by sharing the infographic above on Facebook and Tumblr.

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!

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidsfoley davidfoley

    So what can teachers do to help students feel safer in schools?

  • http://sidneyborum.org Sidney Borum, Jr. Health Center

    David, that’s a great question! We strongly recommend checking out information from the the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) at http://www.glsen.org.

    Of course, what teachers are able to do will vary by school district and state, since teachers themselves can be constrained by law and administrations that vary in LGBT-supportiveness.

    Some steps may be: putting up “Safe Space” or “Ally” posters or stickers in offices and classrooms, working with the administration to create curricula that represent LGBT individuals and families, and volunteering as faculty support for a school’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA).

    Further tips for educators from GLSEN are available here: http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/educator/index.html

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