The first step to becoming an ally to transgender youth? Learn more.
We turned to the Trevor Project, a group focused on suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth, for a primer on the basics of gender identity and expression, along with how to support trans and nonbinary folks in a meaningful way. Transgender Awareness Week is Nov. 13-19 and Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence, is Nov. 20.
Why is it important to show your support?
A 2019 national survey by GLSEN — an acronym that stands for Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network — found 75% of transgender youth feel unsafe at school. And a 2022 Trevor Project survey found LGBTQ youth who live in a community that is accepting of LGBTQ people reported significantly lower rates of attempting suicide than those who do not.
That means your support — and talking to your own kids about why and how it's important to show your support — can make a real difference in the lives of children who are transgender or nonbinary.
Here are three ways to show your support:
1. Honor preferred names and pronouns
A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed a 29% decrease in suicidal ideation and a 56% decrease in suicidal behavior in youth when preferred names were used.
How can you know which names or pronouns are right? Ask. It's always OK to ask — preferably by introducing yourself by your own preferred name and pronouns and inviting them to do the same.
What if you make a mistake? If you're trying, it means a lot. So listen, apologize, own up to it, move on ... and do better next time!
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The U.S. Trans Survey, organized by the National Center for Transgender Equality, is the largest survey of trans people ages 16 and up in the United States. The survey is open through Nov. 21.
2. Let them share on their terms
If a friend or family member entrusts you with their gender or identity, you might want to tell others. But don't — unless they ask you to. Not only may they not be ready to share widely, it could also compromise their safety.
3. Be respectful
Would you feel comfortable if someone asked you about your genitals, medical procedures, or details about your life you feel are private? Don't ask unprompted questions about a transgender or nonbinary person’s journey that could be considered invasive. Think about how you'd feel if the positions were reversed!
Want to know more? Read the Trevor Project's "Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth," an introductory educational resource that covers topics and best practices on how to support transgender and nonbinary young people.