From November 14-20, people across the world come together, building community around Transgender Awareness Week. This is a time to not only help raise visibility of transgender and genderqueer issues, but also recognize the challenges these communities face. Unfortunately, transgender people often face hatred or fear just because of who they are. Violence, harassment, discrimination, and lack of support are huge issues facing the young transgender community today – especially among young transgender women of color. This is why, on November 20, Transgender Day of Remembrance, we remember lives lost.
At The Trevor Project, we recognize that loss in the transgender community, on top of the adversities and non-affirming conflicts that transgender folks too frequently face, can wear on a community’s resilience. In one report, over 40 percent of transgender people attempted suicide and according to GLSEN’s National Climate Survey, 80 percent of transgender students stated that they felt unsafe in school because of their gender expression. This is why it’s important for transgender individuals to find supportive networks and share positive, life-affirming stories that connect them and build strength within the community.
Renowned suicidologist Thomas Joiner theorizes that a feeling of belongingness can reduce suicide attempts and death by suicide, and according to Psych in the Schools, one supportive person can reduce suicide by 30 percent. At The Trevor Project, we offer nonjudgmental support to transgender and questioning youth who have nowhere else to turn to for help. Our crisis-services volunteers on the Trevor Lifeline go through extensive training to understand the distinct challenges transgender young people face, and they continue to learn about various LGBTQ topics throughout the year.
No matter how old you are or where you live, our life-affirming online hub, the Trevor Support Center, allows readers to explore a wide range of transgender and non-binary topics, Q-and-As, and resources in a way that promotes visibility, spreads awareness about diverse identities, and offers support to youth around the country. TrevorSpace, our online social network for LGBTQ youth and their allies, gives members a chance to select gender terms with which they identify (they can use more than one or forgo a label completely). For some youth, this can be the first time they’ve ever identified as their true self.
According to TrevorSpace Coordinator, Chris Angel Murphy, “It is incredibly inspiring to see youth connect and share their stories on TrevorSpace. There is a strong network of trans-identified youth who support and check-in with each other regularly. Some of them have even shared that TrevorSpace is one of the few places they can live their truth. The best part? They are intentionally creating and holding that space for each other.”
Within The Trevor Project’s Youth Advisory Council, several transgender activists are advising our programmatic and outreach efforts so that we can best serve LGBTQ youth. YAC Member and Co-founder of Transgender Student Educational Resources, Eli Erlick says, “The Trevor Project introduced me to a community of empowered young trans activists who want to make a difference in our communities. I know that with this community, we can change the world.”
When YAC member and transgender activist Charlie Kerr met Erlick she said it was life-changing: “Before I joined the YAC, I didn’t have any other friends who were transgender women, let alone who were transgender women involved in activism and organizing. I consider Eli Erlick one of my best friends despite the fact that we are on opposite sides of the country. YAC member Juniper Cordova-Goff is also one of the most amazing, powerful, driven, and dynamic activists I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Without Trevor, I would have never had the opportunity to meet and bond with these two people who each, in their own, give me so much strength and inspiration every day.”
Organizations like The Trevor Project will continue to be there for transgender youth who need lifesaving help or want to connect with someone who simply lets them know that it’s okay to be who they are.
Thankfully, society is slowly changing to be a more affirming and accepting place. Shows like Beautiful As I Want To Be, True Life: I’m Genderqueer, Transparent, and The T Word are promising advancements in visibility and understanding. Heroes like Jen Richards, Tiq Milan, Angelica Ross, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Geena Rocero, Chaz Bono, Laura Jane Grace, and Lana Wachowski are giving new visibility to important conversations about what it means to be transgender. Advocates will continue to push forward in the fight for true equality, and for the rights of transgender people nationwide who face disproportionately high risks and discrimination.
“People don’t need to understand all the ins and outs of what it means to be transgender in order to be loving. If we begin with love, everything else will flow from there. And the things that we need to understand will flow from that as well.”
However transgender folks find a community to be a part of this week, remember that we all have a part in making the community feel supported. As Youtuber and Harry Potter Alliance Communications Director Jackson Bird states, “We have a long way to go towards equality and acceptance of transgender people and it’s going to continue to be a fight…These injustices we face are due to a stigma born out of a lack of understanding and compassion that our world, including our friends, coworkers, and families have for transgender people. If you are not a transgender person, or if you are a transgender person with any amount of privilege, security, or a platform, continue to educate yourself, educate others when able, amplify the voices of the less privileged than yourself, take action when you can, and remember those who came before us and those we’ve lost. And if you are transgender…find support where you can. There are a ton of resources you can turn to online…I recommend The Trevor Project.”
To be inspired by transgender folks who are raising awareness and taking action, see images we shared on social media throughout the week below.
On Transgender Day of Remembrance, help build resilience with the community by joining our staff at the events below or visit this link of events compiled by TDOR.info. This is not a full list, so please check your area to find an event near you. To submit your own event, visit the following link.
West Hollywood, CA
- Date: November 20, 2015 6:00 PM PST
- Location: West Hollywood Library, Auto Court; 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard
New York City, New York
- Date: November 20, 2015 7:00 PM EST
- Location: The NYC LGBT Center; 208 W. 13 St. NY, NY 10011
- Date: November 20, 2015, 6-8 PM EST
- Location: Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, DC, 474 Ridge St. Washington, D.C. 20001
San Francisco, CA
- Date: November 20, 2015, 6-8:30 PM PST
- Location: SF LGBT Center, 1800 Market St., SF, CA
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386.