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The Importance of Gender Affirming Care and Transition for Trans Youth

Trigger warning: this post contains content about suicide, dating violence and abuse. 

Growing up and navigating life as a teen is already challenging and it can be even more distressing for youth who are questioning their gender identity.

Studies show that 82% of transgender youth who do not have supportive family or friends consider suicide. Approximately 40% of them will attempt to end their lives. However, among those who have support from family and friends, only 4% attempt suicide.

With statistics like this, supporting a child in seeking affirming care and transitioning is imperative.  
 

Many studies show that trans youth who have support to explore their gender identity and have access to gender affirming medical care have better mental health and well-being and are also more likely to not face homelessness. 


How Can You Best Support a Trans Child in Your Life? 

If a child discloses to you that they are questioning their gender identity or tells you they are trans, the main thing to do is reassure your love and support for them. It takes bravery for someone to trust you and let you know how they feel.  

Ask them questions about how they identify and make sure to use their preferred name and pronouns. Ask what you can do to support them and make them feel comfortable in this journey- as it is unique and different for everyone. 

Gender affirming medical care can look like:  

  • Counseling about coming out as transgender to family, peers, and others 

  • Resources to assist with changing outward appearances and gender presentation

  • Speech therapy to help match vocal characteristics (such as pitch and phrasing patterns) with gender identity 

  • Gender affirming hormone replacement therapy 

  • Gender affirming surgery 

Consider developing a detailed timeline with them that covers social, legal and medical transition to help them feel, during periods of waiting, as though they are moving forward – even by small steps. Trans youth may also be actively ignored in services, or they may avoid accessing services altogether, for fear of being stigmatized by service providers for presenting outside of traditional gender boundaries. Below are some resources for trans youth and their families and friends to best support them in seeking the care they deserve.  

Resources:  

LGBTQ2SIA+ Dating Resources  

Did you know that queer youth report experiencing higher rates of dating violence more than youth in heterosexual relationships? In the queer community, dating violence and unhealthy relationships are often perceived as a heterosexual relationship problem, normal or not as severe because the individuals share the same gender expression or gender. This could not be farther from the truth. In addition, less than 25% of those who experience dating violence in the LGBTQ2SIA+ community ever report the abuse. 

Individuals experiencing dating abuse in LGBTQ2SIA+ relationships may: 

  • Feel embarrassed about the abuse and that they won’t be able to get help because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression if they reach out for help. 

  • Feel like their partner will try to turn the community against them if they do something their partner disagrees with or if they decide to end the relationship. 

  • Be worried their partner will “out” them to family and friends if they’re not out already or their partner may threaten to “out” them as a way to gain power and control over them. 

  • Feel like their partner is the only person that will ever love them because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. 

Everyone deserves a healthy relationship where they feel like they are respected, loved and can be their authentic self, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.

More resources are needed to educate and spread awareness about navigating unhealthy relationships and dating violence. The Dating Safe Program at the YWCA, operating in Surrey and Vancouver is designed to educate Grade 8-10 students about healthy relationships and dating violence inclusive of LGBTQ2SIA+ relationships. Below are more resources youth can access to learn, prevent and get support healthy relationships and dating violence.  

Resources: