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TransKY ADVOCATE by Tuesday G Meadows

THE FIGHT TO SAVE OUR KIDS

O R ADVOCACY

“Dear God, sorry to disturb you but... I feel that I should be heard loud and clear. We all need a reduction in amount of tears/and all the people that you made in your image, see them fighting in the street ‘cause they can’t make opinions meet about God.” Dear God, XTC

ecently, I read an opinion piece published in one of those hateful right-wing rags that proclaimed anyone who supports transgender kids—including doctors who treat and parents who love—should be arrested and imprisoned for child abuse. I guess the author was trying to scare people into not supporting our transgender youth. I am sure that some of the people who read this hate will believe these awful and dangerous opinions. However, I have also heard from members (mostly older) of the LGBTQIA community, who one might think would know better, that they also believe letting transgender kids transition at an early age is wrong. Where are these views coming from? Research tells us over and over that supporting youth in their gender identities has positive benefits for mental and emotional health. Furthermore, families, friends, and communities that do not support these kids can do terrible harm. I believe we should not be silent on this; it’s time to fight for our kids. Part of being a family means to sometimes love even that which we do not understand. Any parent who has done their research realizes that supporting their child is more likely to have a better outcome than dismissing their child as confused or misguided. In fact, a landmark

8 LinQ // JULY 2017 . ADVOCACY

study in the journal Pediatrics in 2016 suggested that those preadolescent gender variant youth who had familial support had better mental health outcomes. The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) found a reduction of 33 percent in the lifetime suicide attempts among those whose family relationships remained strong after coming out. However, even with family support, there remains a significant stigma that impacts access to medical care. The same NCTE study found that 60 percent of transgender children had been refused treatment by a doctor or healthcare provider. Although some insurance companies have labeled medical and surgical treatment as “elective,” hormones and surgical interventions are lifesaving for transgender individuals. The Williams Institute at UCLA also found that stressors such as housing insecurity, education, employment, and mental health disabilities contribute to the vulnerability to suicide and suicide attempts in transgender individuals. The survey by the NCTE showed that the 18 to 24-year old group had the largest number of suicide attempts. We seem to be failing this group more than any other. This certainly is a hard age for many of us without the added stress of not being able

to access life-saving healthcare or opportunities for advancement. According to a recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) survey, nearly 10 percent of all people in the 13 to 25 years old age group identify as gender variant with the largest portion of that group in the 15 to 17 years age range. Although, it must be noted that these numbers are according to data based upon selfidentification. Transgender youth have greater challenges than us older transgender people; the dating years seem to be particularly difficult for transgender young people. Not only do transgender adolescents face losing a potential boyfriend or girlfriend, but many also fear violence. It is imperative that we support our transgender youth but also teach our kids who are not transgender to respect individuals who are. Acknowledging the fact that transgender youth face significant barriers is the first step in beginning to advocate for change. The bedrock of advocacy is fairness—in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Things as simple as getting our proper name on our driver’s license or on school transcripts can make a world of difference. Frankly, it should not be as hard as our institutions have made it. When a school tells a child that they

July 2017 LinQ  

LinQ is the only monthly magazine that focuses on the Kentucky LGBTQ... community. LinQ is published monthly by and for the Pride Community...

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