Trevor Celebrates Transgender Day of Visibility

Rachel Crandall, the head of transgender advocacy and education organization Transgender Michigan, founded Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, 2009 as a way to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments of the transgender community. With 41 percent of transgender people who have attempted suicide, giving visibility to positive experiences in the community is a way to inspire folks to live as their authentic selves. At The Trevor Project, we have partnered with our Youth Advisory Council member Eli Erlick, director of Transgender Student Educational Resources, for the campaign, #MoreThanVisibility, which is an opportunity to share resources and start a dialogue about transgender justice. Show support of the transgender community by sharing the #MoreThanVisibility pin above on social media. By being visible as an ally, you are helping raise awareness and liberating folks who fear living as their authentic selves due to transphobia, violence towards the community, and/or lack of support.

We are here for the transgender community 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 and thetrevorproject.org. Here are the stories of two trans women who are a part of The Trevor Project and making a positive difference in the transgender community.

Michaela Ivri Mendelsohn, Board Member of The Trevor Project

Transgender activist, public speaker, businesswoman, and Trevor Board member Michaela Ivri Mendelsohn always wanted to change the world. As a nine-year-old, she read 101 books, 70 percent of which were biographies of people she admired—Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln…but no one on the list was trans. “If there was one person who had asked me ‘Have you ever met someone who’s trans?’, it would have changed my life forever,” she says.

Now, as CEO of Pollo West Corp and the Founder of the California Transgender Workplace Program, as well as the mother of a toddler and three grown children who are making a difference in the world, Michaela is becoming the hero she always wanted for herself. Just last week, she spent time at Out and Equal’s Conference to discuss workplace equality and inclusion. And, on Transgender Day of Visibility, March 31, 2016, she will be at The Oaks in California to answer questions and educate folks about the trans community. “I’m visible in the community as a speaker and activist because when a person can put a face and a name to a word like ‘transgender’—when they can hear me be vulnerable and ask me questions, they’re more likely to open their hearts and minds,” she says.

With 12 transgender employees, four of which have become managers in six of her El Pollo Loco restaurants, Michaela is giving visibility to the trans experience within the workplace by promoting trans-friendly job conditions and advocating for trans folks so that they are able to find employment, social acceptance, and the encouragement to start raising families of their own. “If we really want social justice, we have to lift up the lowest common denominator—so that means giving trans people of color more jobs and opportunities. We all have to evolve with the change or we’ll be left behind,” she says.

Michaela has also brought visibility to the trans experience in media by consulting on the television show “Orange is The New Black.” While she recognizes how Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, and Caitlyn Jenner’s stories have raised awareness of the transgender community, what she really hopes for is that organizations like Trevor can offer more education about the trans experience on YouTube, in schools, and public places. “What opened my mind was hearing The Trevor Project’s Youth Advisory Council talk about the intersectionality of the trans experience and seeing how many gender nonconforming identities existed. I remember feeling so much pressure to be a certain way as a woman, and that obsession became another box that made my experience worse. This new generation is different and it’s so exciting to see gender nonconformity become a part of our future. People are recognizing that they can accept they are blends and they don’t need one gender to label themselves,” she says.

Eli Erlick, Youth Advisory Council Member of The Trevor Project

Steering the gender nonconformity conversation as the director of Trans Student Educational Resources is Trevor’s YAC member Eli Erlick, who became a transgender activist when she was 15 years old. After organizing an LGBT Conference, she founded Transgender Student Educational Resources, became a media ambassador for GLSEN, and now serves on the YAC to inspire young people to take collective action for the LGBTQ community, especially intersectionally marginalized groups such as young transgender people. “Youth are not only our future, but also our present, and we’re leading movements right now,” she says.

Through Transgender Student Educational Resources, Eli and her team created Trans Youth Leadership Summit, the only national program fostering the activism of young transgender people through collective organization, with applications open now till May 1. At the summit, participants will design activist art, build community, and collaborate on ways to create action around issues affecting young trans people. “Few people know that the most influential uprisings in the LGBTQ community were incited by young gender nonconforming and transgender people of color. Sylvia Rivera was only 17 and Marsha P. Johnson was only 23 at the time of Stonewall. We must get out into the streets. Visibility is not just being seen as an individual… it’s working together to transform society,” she says.

During Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrate transgender people who are making a difference by participating in #MoreThanVisibility events in your community. You can also help support transgender leaders by sharing the donation page of the Trans Youth Summit and consider becoming a part of the confidential, safe, supportive transgender community on TrevorSpace.org. “The more that youth connect on TrevorSpace.org, the more emboldened they’ll feel to be visible as themselves,” Michaela says. “Transgender Day of Visibility is a day of empowerment and getting the recognition we deserve,” Eli says.

The Trevor Project supports all on Transgender Day of Visibility. We are here for you 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 and thetrevorproject.org.


Support Trevor at United Relay: History’s Biggest Coast-to-Coast Challenge

Starting in May, The Trevor Project is joining 9,000 runners in a race across the United States. Help save young LGBTQ lives in the biggest coast-to-coast challenge in history by signing up along any of the United Relay routes.

 

You can be that one supportive person who can decrease a young person’s risk for suicide by 30 percent. To get involved, set up a donation page and encourage your friends and family to take part. If you are underage, differently abled, or don’t feel like racing, you can make a big difference by raising awareness, cheering us on, or donating here. If you would like a discount on signing up for the race, email [email protected] for more information. AfterShokz will be giving away free headphones through a weekly prize draw here.

To prepare for United Relay, Trevor recognizes that self-care is necessary for building endurance. As National Sleep and Nutrition Awareness Months come to an end in March, we’ve compiled some tips on how to get ready for the race.

Get Better Sleep
1. Set a routine to wake up the same time each day
2. Exercise regularly
3. Avoid naps longer than 20 minutes
4. Eat and drink lightly before bed
5. Turn off electronics and dim the lights an hour before you sleep
6. If you can’t fall asleep, try getting up, taking a walk, journaling, meditating, or turning on music

Plan Nutritious Meals
1. A few weeks leading up to the race, plan meals with lean meats like chicken or fish and/or plant-based carb foods that are in season, like vegetables, fruits, and legumes
2. A few days leading up to the race, stay away from food that is not easy to digest or may not agree with your stomach, like processed foods, fats, fried foods, dairy, or extra fiber
3. Three hours before the race, eat a breakfast of carbs and protein or energy bars
4. 30 minutes before the race, continuously sip water to stay hydrated

Whether you race with Trevor or not, we appreciate all your support and we thank you for raising awareness about United Relay!


Statement from Abbe Land: Georgia Vetoes Anti-LGBTQ Bill

We are grateful that Governor Nathan Deal has vetoed House Bill 757, a policy which would have made it possible for faith-based organizations and businesses to decline services to the LGBTQ community throughout Georgia. Seeing over 500 businesses and organizations stand together to fight against this bill was inspiring and shows LGBTQ youth in Georgia that their futures matter. This is a signal to the nation that hate and fear-mongering will not win. It also shows the power of standing together to fight discrimination. We must continue to raise our collective voices so that North Carolina and other states learn that we won’t accept anything less than full equality for the LGBTQ community.

To join us in our advocacy efforts against discriminatory policies, visit our Advocacy pageThank you for helping save young lives by being a part of local, state, and federal change.

Abbe Land

Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project

Photo via David Goldman/AP, NPR.org


Trevor Celebrates National Social Workers’ Month

In celebration of the end of National Social Workers’ Month, we recognize four social workers on staff who help shape our crisis services and suicide prevention programs, as well as advocacy work.

David Bond, LCSW, B.C.E.T.S., and Vice President of Programs

What David W. Bond loves about social work is that he has played so many diverse roles in the field, from providing trauma therapy to over 800 children and families on a micro level, to shaping a health program for incarcerated youth on a mezzo level, and working on research at Trevor that could potentially change suicide prevention techniques on a national, macro level. “Social work allows us to blend direct practice with policy and research so that we can impact the psychosocial development of people in society as a whole,” David says.

Through a partnership with USC and Jeremy Goldbach, PhD, David is leading Trevor’s initiative of an immediate and long term evaluation of Trevor’s crisis services programs to help us grow and develop our impact. “Our research will help guide our peers in the mental health community about the best ways to serve LGBTQ youth,” David says.

Ashby Dodge, LCSW and Clinical Director

Ashby Dodge is a licensed clinical social worker, a wife, a mother, and a mentor – driven by the values of integrity and leadership.  With a private practice in NYC that focuses on couples/family therapy, young professionals, LGBTQ issues, sexual assault survivors, and substance abuse, Ashby’s clinical style is largely strengths-based, helping people find positive and practical solutions to any number of life stressors and problematic relationships. On March 18, 2016, she was awarded the Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry Humanitarian Alumni Award from her alma mater, Longwood University, for her commitment and selfless dedication to service, which has improved the welfare of the LGBTQ community.

“Social work has always been about connection for me.  Researcher and storyteller Brene Brown defines connection as ‘the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.’ I never want someone to feel alone, that their life is not worth living; to feel that fear inside that they – this beautiful unique creation – are not enough,” she says. As Clinical Director at The Trevor Project, she leads our life-affirming crisis services team so we can continue to be that one supportive place to which young people can turn.

Taryn Crosby, LMSW and Crisis Services Manager

Crisis Services Manager Taryn Crosby is a sex educator, social worker, and fellow at the Kull Initiative for Psychotherapy, where she provides affordable and comprehensive therapy for individuals, groups, and couples. Her goal at Trevor is to develop the ways in which we serve marginalized groups, including immigrants, transgender youth, and people of color. “Social work helps me understand a whole person through the context of their families, communities, schools, religions, economic backgrounds, and races. Through our USC research project, we’re hoping to understand more about the people we’re serving in our crisis services programs so that we can provide them with the resources that will best suit their needs,” she says.

Amy Loudermilk, MSW and Associate Director of Government Affairs

Since 2015, Amy Loudermilk has been working with the Washington, DC City Council on the first bill in the nation that would require suicide prevention training in schools, specifically addressing the needs of LGBTQ youth. Now, the bill will be voted into law in March.

Amy has also been instrumental in banning the harmful practice of conversion therapy in several states across America. Her goal in 2016 is to help make sure that the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act is passed so that vital funding for suicide prevention and intervention services remains available across states, tribes, and schools. “More than 90 percent of those who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder. Four out of five young people with a diagnosable mental health condition do not receive treatment. LGB youth are four times more likely and questioning youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, while nearly half of transgender youth have seriously considered attempting suicide. We can do better for young people who should be receiving treatment, but are not being diagnosed, do not have access to mental health professionals, or who face stigma and shame that keep their mental health challenges from being addressed,” she says.

We thank the social workers on Trevor’s staff who are paving a brighter future for LGBTQ youth. With their dedication and unconditional support, we can continue to save young lives, 24/7.


LGBTQ Advocacy Updates

February and March have been months of change for the LGBTQ community, despite the anti-LGBTQ bills we’ve seen in MissouriGeorgia, and North Carolina. While we are outraged that Missouri‘s religious freedom bill passed and Governor Pat McCrory just signed HB 2, a bill that will limit all LGBTQ protections and transgender bathroom rights in North Carolina, we must also celebrate the progress that we’ve seen.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal just vetoed House Bill 757, which would have allowed faith-based organizations and businesses to decline services to the LGBTQ community. New York banned conversion therapy and Mayor Bill de Blasio approved Executive Order #16, mandating that NYC facilities provide bathroom access to transgender people consistent with their gender identities. In South Dakota, schools became safer for LGBTQ students when Dennis Dauggard vetoed HB 1008, a bill that would have banned transgender students from safely accessing their school bathrooms. Advocacy moments such as these pave the way for brighter LGBTQ futures, yet we must recognize that there is still more work to do.

Just two months ago, City of West Hollywood Council Member John Heilman, who is also a Trevor supporter, responded to a story in our newsletter and brought a resolution to the city council asking for support of the reauthorization of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, which will help make it possible for state, schools, and tribes to receive funding for mental health programs, including crisis hotlines and suicide prevention services. Due to Heilman’s support, the City of West Hollywood will generate letters to California Senators, as well as some key people in Congress to help Trevor make national change.

Join Heilman and West Hollywood in showing your support here and help us speak out against discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ measures on our Advocacy page.


Statement from Abbe Land: North Carolina Passes Anti-LGBTQ Law

We join thousands of human rights advocates in expressing outrage over the passage of HB 2, which invalidates all LGBTQ protections throughout North Carolina, including prohibiting safe access to restrooms for the transgender community. The fact that Governor Pat McCrory took such a narrow-minded, anti-human action so late at night, with little notice, demonstrates he knows the public will be fighting back. LGBTQ rights are human rights, and taking away the ability for a city to make its citizens safe and equal goes against the basic tenets of government responsibility. We are here 24/7 for all young people in North Carolina who now have to deal with the emotional impact of witnessing authoritative figures in their home state take an action that may negatively impact their futures.  We cannot back down now. There will always be more work to do.

To join us in inspiring change across the U.S., learn about how to take action on our Advocacy Page. Thank you for helping save young lives by being a part of local, state, and federal change.

Abbe Land

Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project


Trevor Hosts Students for Alternative Spring Break

In March, The Trevor Project’s Community Engagement and Outreach team organized activities for student Alternative Spring Break groups from across the nation who were driven to help us save young LGBTQ lives.  Wingate University, Gettysburg College, and Florida International University students had an intensive overview of Trevor’s story, our vision, mission, and programs. Trevor Ally, Advocacy, Outreach, and LGBTQIA competency-based trainings prepared Wingate and Florida International students to do outreach in New York, distributing resources about our services to youth-based organizations and community centers.

In a cultural exchange between The Trevor Project  and LGBT Youth Japan, a Tokyo-based student organization that educates Japanese young people about LGBT support systems currently employed by foreign countries, our Wingate student volunteers learned about the state of LGBT youth in Japan, while our Japanese students were informed about our lifesaving work. An LGBT Youth Japan student, Kody, was particularly inspired by the visit: “I’ve known about your organization since Tyler Oakley started hosting the red carpet for TrevorLIVE. I’ve always wanted to visit you since then, so it was a dream come true moment! Now, inspired by people I met in New York, I’ve decided to continue posting various coming out videos by interviewing my ally and LGBT friends in order to increase our visibility in Japan and help young LGBT people who might be in need of help and encouragement.”

We are grateful that we had the opportunity to connect with young people through education and we look forward to seeing them become leaders within the LGBTQ community.


Trevor Recognizes Women’s History and Bisexual+ Health Awareness Month

Proclaimed by President Jimmy Carter in 1987, Women’s History Week was originally established by The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women to teach K-12 classrooms about the suffrage movement in the United States. Now known as Women’s History Month, the time is recognized internationally on March 8 for International Women’s Day, a time to highlight women across the world, take action, and pledge gender parity.

During Women’s History Month, The Trevor Project acknowledges that transgender women must also be recognized across the world. Transphobia has become a national crisis, especially for trans women of color. We are still faced with the staggering reality that 41 percent of transgender and gender non-conforming people have attempted suicide. Through TrevorChat and TrevorText, we were able to serve 54 percent of crisis contacts who identified as female and 19 percent of our digital crisis contacts were transgender, genderqueer, or third gender.

We continue to use such platforms as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram to connect with young people, highlight inspiring LGBTQ activists, and talk about the struggles of marginalized groups.In March, we are also raising awareness about Bisexual Resource Center’s Bi+ Health Awareness Month, sharing information about Bi+ activists, Bi+ health disparities, and Bi+ resources, like the Trevor Support CenterBiNetUSA and BRC. According to LGBTmap.org, U.S. Bi+ females experience higher rates of intimate partner violence than gay, lesbian, or straight people, as well as higher rates of poverty and PTSD. In fact, one of the second largest groups we serve on TrevorChat and TrevorText is bisexual. We recognize Bi+ Day of Remembrance on March 11 as a time to remember all Bi+ lives lost, and show all Bi+ folks we are here for them always. We support feminists and Bi+ activists who are fighting for LGBTQ rights each and every day, and we want to remind folks that we support all LGBTQ young people 24/7 on our Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386 and thetrevorproject.org.


Statement from Abbe Land: South Dakota Governor Vetoes Anti-Trans Student Bathroom Bill

FILE – In this Jan. 12, 2016 file photo, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard delivers his during his annual state of the state address at the state Capitol in Pierre. Daugaard faces a deadline Tuesday, March 1, 2016, to make a decision about a bill that would require transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their sex at birth. Daugaard hasn’t said what he plans to do with the proposal. If he signs the legislation or allows it to take effect without his signature, South Dakota would become the first state in the nation with such a law. (AP Photo/James Nord, File)

As one of the leaders in advocacy and policy change for LGBTQ youth, The Trevor Project applauds Governor Dennis Dauggard for vetoing HB 1008, a bill that would have banned transgender students from safely accessing bathrooms in their schools.

With nearly half of young transgender people who have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter who have reported having made a suicide attempt [4], Governor Dauggard’s vetoing of this bill is just one step towards ensuring the mental health and well-being of transgender youth in school environments.

While South Dakota has made progress by vetoing HB 1008, there are similar anti-trans bills across Wisconsin, Kentucky, Mississippi, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. At The Trevor Project, we are advocating to require LGBTQ suicide prevention training of all school personnel through our Model School District Policy, which includes recognizing the genders of transgender youth, both through LGBTQ education and affirmative spaces, such as bathrooms. With your support of this policy, we can ensure that youth have brighter educations, regardless of gender or sexuality.

To join us in inspiring change across the U.S., learn about how to take action on our Advocacy Page. Thank you for helping save young lives by joining us in our advocacy efforts.

 

Abbe Land, Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project

SOURCE

[4] Grossman, A.H. & D’Augelli, A.R. (2007). Transgender Youth and Life-Threatening Behaviors. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviors. 37(5), 527-37.

Photo via AP/James Nord


The Lifeguard Workshop: Trevor’s New Online Education Resource

At The Trevor Project, we know one supportive person can make a difference in an LGBTQ young person’s life. We also know that it can sometimes be difficult to have conversations about mental health, suicide prevention, and LGBTQ identity in the classroom. That’s why we are launching a new online educational resource—The Lifeguard Workshop—to help teachers, mental health professionals, social workers, administrators, PTAs, GSAs, and faith groups share lifesaving programs with youth in their communities. With this resource, we are showing youth they are not alone and it is brave to ask for help.

We have heard so many stories about teachers and counselors who have made young people feel safe and accepted.  For example, one 15-year-old trans person in California told us:

“My Spanish teacher had a little sticker on her desk that said that her classroom was a safe space for LGBT students. I decided that I would come out to her because I really wanted to have someone to talk to about school and being trans. She supported me and told me that she was happy for me…She automatically changed pronouns for me in class, and she was always available for me to talk.”

Based on The Trevor Project’s in-person workshop, which is listed in the SPRC/AFSP Best Practice Registry for Suicide Prevention, we’ve designed The Lifeguard Workshop to include a video, Safer Spaces Guide, and empathy building lessons for middle school and high school aged youth. The Lifeguard Workshop teaches youth how to identify the challenges faced by LGBTQ people, recognize the warning signs of suicide, and respond to someone who may be in crisis. TheTrevorProject.org/Lifeguard also provides information on The Trevor Project’s crisis intervention services, like our 24/7 Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, TrevorChat and TrevorText, and our online community, TrevorSpace.org.

To celebrate the launch of The Lifeguard Workshop, we’ve designed a classroom poster and other educational resources you can order here. Since these are new resources, please take a moment to provide us with your feedback by completing a Teacher Survey after using them in your classroom.  And, if you’d like to bring The Trevor Project’s staff to your school district, you can sign up for Care and Ally Training.

We launched our resources at Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive Conference in February, where we joined 45 national organizations dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ young people and presented workshops on how to educate young people and youth-serving professionals on LGTBQ-competent suicide prevention, risk detection, and response. Transgender activist and children’s book author Jazz Jennings joined in supporting our efforts, with a shout-out on Twitter to her over 43.7K followers.

From March 9-12, Trevor will be at the American Association of Social Workers Conference in Baltimore, and from March 18-20, we will be in North Carolina at the LGBT in the South Conference to present The Lifeguard Workshop live, joining educators and youth-serving professionals to build awareness and cultural competency, learn current and emerging best practices, and gather resources from leading experts in the field. And, in the summer, watch out for our Summer Reading List on our Pinterest page to further your support of LGBTQ youth when the school season ends.

To help make it easier for schools to prevent, assess, intervene in, and respond to suicidal behavior, The Trevor Project has also collaborated to create a Model School District Policy for Suicide Prevention. This modular, adaptable document will help educators and school administrators implement comprehensive suicide prevention policies in communities nationwide. The fact sheet and full policy can be downloaded here.

Youth-serving professionals can also join our Senior Education Manager, Danielle Orner, for a monthly informational webinar which will explore how to facilitate a Lifeguard Workshop, address tough questions, and make classrooms safer spaces. For more information, you can contact her at [email protected]

With education, we can help prevent suicide. Thank you to the educators and leaders who are sharing lifesaving resources with youth in their communities. You are making a difference!

Photo one features Executive Director and CEO Abbe Land, along with our Senior Education Manager, Danielle Orner, and Vice President of Programs, David Bond, holding our new educational posters.  Photo two features TrevorLIVE Youth Innovator, trans activist, and children’s book author Jazz Jennings.