A recent, exciting announcement marked a crucial milestone for the future of mainstream social media: Facebook announced that it would allow users to fill in their own gender identity.
Last year, the company made it possible for members to choose a gender identity from a long list of possible options. During this process, Facebook consulted with The Trevor Project, and our team was able to provide feedback and guidance as the social network moved toward becoming more inclusive. Now, Facebook is taking the next step in allowing for a wider range of gender identities and terms.
Youth deserve the chance to identify with the words that best describe who they are, and we know that allowing a “fill-in-the-blank” option opens the door for young people with diverse genders. Imagine being able to self-identify as your true gender for the first time, and actually allow others to see it; for some, that can be life-changing.
In fact, that’s why our safe and secure social network for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace.org, allows members to choose from more than 20 gender identities. What if a young person can’t find what they’re looking for? In that case, each user has the ability to fill in and create any gender identity that speaks to them, even if it isn’t listed – or, they can select multiple identities rather than simply choosing one.
The importance of supporting LGBTQ youth and respecting diverse identities cannot be understated. As the younger generation’s communication continues to shift into the digital world, it is our hope that more social networks and online profile features will allow for self-expression outside of the gender binary. To learn more about gender, and why it’s so important to reflect diverse identities, click here!
The Trevor Project was proud to attend The National Conference on LGBTQ Equality: Creating Change, sponsored by the National LGBTQ Task Force, in Denver, CO from February 4-8. Here, over 4,000 people came together to learn, empower, and strategize about the coming year in LGBTQ rights and social justice.
For the second year in a row, Trevor staff presented a day-long institute called “Advancing LGBTQ Youth Mental Health and Well-Being: Building Capacity in Our Communities.” Over 70 mental health professionals, campus life staff, educators, and youth-service coordinators from every region in the country took part in crisis intervention role plays, identified ways to reduce stigma through safe messaging, brainstormed ways to advocate for youth voices, and built empathy with activities.
“As always, Creating Change gave me the opportunity to become a stronger advocate for LGBTQ youth. I loved attending the many youth-led workshops to hear firsthand how we can better support them, and I am always touched by the moving stories attendees share with us when they visit Trevor’s table. Creating Change always reminds me of how powerful our work truly is.” Wes Nemenz, Senior Education Manager at The Trevor Project.
Trevor also staffed a table in the exhibiting hall, gathering hundreds of signatures from folks who showed interest in volunteering, sharing our resources, and supporting our work.
Check out a few of our tweets during Creating Change:
The holiday season can be especially tough for the LGBTQ youth that Trevor supports.
“Our busiest times are actually the days before and after the holidays,” said Odalis Gonzalez, one of Trevor’s Crisis Services Managers said. “Young people are considering whether or not to ‘come out,’ are facing isolation or judgment from family, or are unable to go home at all. And these are just a few stressors that our youth may face.”
Thankfully, there are people who are ready to listen, and help. Because of Trevor’s invaluable volunteers, we’re able to keep our phones and chat lines open for any young person who needs to talk, even on holidays.
“We have a lot of counselors who volunteer to work extra shifts during the holidays,” said Liam Mina, Crisis Services Manager for TrevorChat. “They have supportive families themselves, and want to be there for youth whose families may not be as accepting.”
Together, we can help make sure that this holiday season is a safer for LGBTQ youth nationwide. Remind the young people in your life that they aren’t alone, and be aware of the warning signs of suicide. It only takes one supportive adult to make a difference!
If you know someone who might be feeling suicidal or needs support, please encourage them to call the Trevor Lifeline (1-866-488-7386) or reach out over TrevorChat (7-days a week during select hours). We are here to listen, 24/7.
To make an end of year donation that will help support LGBTQ youth year-round, visit www.Trvr.org/Donate to make a tax-deductible gift.
We are so excited to announce the creation of our newest resource: the Trevor Support Center. This online hub is a place where LGBTQ youth and their allies can find answers to frequently asked questions, and explore 15 topics related to sexual orientation, gender identity and more.
This educational, life-affirming resource takes the place of Ask Trevor, a letter writing program that began in 2005. Here, young people were able to ask non-urgent questions and receive answers from trained Trevor volunteers.
Retiring Ask Trevor was a difficult decision, but the letters our volunteer writers answered gave way to an accessible online resource that will support youth nationwide. To everyone who dedicated their time as an Ask Trevor volunteer, thank you so much for your hard work. We could not have gotten to this point without you.
In addition to the Trevor Support Center, we also have TrevorSpace, a global social networking community for LGBTQ youth ages 13-24 and their allies. U.S.-based young people can also get live support through TrevorChat, TrevorText and the Trevor Lifeline.
The Trevor Project and The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide (SPTS) are coming together to update a valuable, SPRC Best Practice resource for educators called “Making Educators Partners in Youth Suicide Prevention.” Through this partnership, The Trevor Project will share expertise about LGBTQ youth and suicide risk for this free online course, which reaches 65,000 teachers. As a part of this update, Trevor will also provide LGBTQ-specific guidelines and resources for training participants to download.
“It’s exciting when national organizations can collaborate and share knowledge and resources that can potentially save lives,” said SPTS’s Clinical Director, Maureen Underwood, LCSW. “When SPTS decided to update its national online educator training, we realized how important it was to address the suicide risks LGBTQ youth face. That’s when we reached out to The Trevor Project. Now, we have a tool that reinforces the importance of educators responding to all at-risk youth in a safe, non-judgmental way. We’re so excited to share this with educators nationwide!”
Abbe Land, Executive Director & CEO of The Trevor Project, said: “Trevor is proud and honored to work on this nation-wide digital training with SPTS, and is excited for teachers to learn more about LGBTQ youth, our mission, and the invaluable resources we have for educators and students. This partnership is grounded in a mutual goal to provide life-affirming, life-saving education to gatekeepers who can make a huge difference in the lives of LGBTQ youth. I can’t wait for everyone to see the finished product.”
The revised version of “Making Educators Partners in Youth Suicide Prevention” will go live on January 1, 2015 at http://spts.pldm.com/.
This July, Trevor’s outreach team attended GaymerX, an annual video game event that focuses its support on LGBTQ gamers and their allies. The San Francisco Ambassadors to The Trevor Project were there, and hosted a table with information about our life-saving programs.
During the two-day conference, Trevor Ambassadors encouraged attendees to “Be a Hero for LGBTQ Youth” by taking a picture with signs that shared encouraging messages of love and affirmation. As more and more guests learned about Trevor, an exciting number of “heroes” signed up to attend our upcoming volunteer orientation.
As a media sponsor for GaymerX, hosted by MidBoss, we were also able to place wallet cards containing the Trevor Lifeline number in the bags of over 3,000 conference-goers – half of which are estimated to be in Trevor’s age demographic.
We had a great time at GaymerX, and offer special thanks to the San Francisco Ambassadors for the fantastic job they did during the convention. Thanks to them, we were able to engage new young people in our work, and help spread Trevor’s life-saving mission.
I am so excited that we’ve now completed the year-long process of developing a comprehensive 3-year strategic plan that will carry us well beyond our 16th year. Its future-forward goals lay the foundation for The Trevor Project’s expansion, and ensure that we focus on continuing to support LGBTQ youth in the strongest way possible.
Over the past several years, The Trevor Project has grown – and this growth will continue as we begin the new fiscal year in August. We have seen that more and more young people across the country are reaching out to Trevor for help, especially in a digital age where a growing number of youth are accessing our online services. To meet this need, we plan to invest in our programs, our infrastructure, and our volunteers.
The focus for this year will be to strengthen and expand the capacity for our crisis services, which will be achieved by adding staff that support the Lifeline, TrevorChat, TrevorText, and Trevorspace; as well as recruiting more volunteers to work with these programs.
With TrevorSpace in particular, we will dedicate resources to dramatically improve the functionality and usability of the website’s platform, and ensure that the social network is optimized for mobile devices. More young people than ever are accessing this life-affirming site from their phones, and we want to make sure that TrevorSpace members never have to be without this supportive online community.
Our education and advocacy work will continue to be key components of our strategy, and we plan to concentrate these efforts in programs and opportunities where Trevor provides unique value. Trevor’s outreach team will continue to focus on recruiting more volunteers, and all of us will be working to secure the financial resources necessary to support our planned program expansion.
I feel confident and optimistic about The Trevor Project’s direction moving forward, and encourage you to check our website for updates as the year continues. Thank you for supporting The Trevor Project and the LGBTQ youth we serve. We can’t do it without you!
The Trevor Project is proud to have been invited to present at two premier conferences for the LGBTQ community – Creating Change (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force), and Time to Thrive (HRC). As the leading voice in suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth, The Trevor Project offers a unique perspective at these national gatherings.
On January 30th, members of Trevor’s staff flew to Houston, TX to participate in Creating Change, an annual conference of more than 4,000 LGBTQ activists and leaders from around the country. There, Trevor presented a day-long institute focused on organizing and problem-solving around LGBTQ youth mental health.
Trevor staff also presented several workshops, with topics including support and empowerment for rural youth and encouraging inclusive LGBTQ advocacy. In addition, Trevor proudly sponsored the Youth Hospitality Suite, providing lunch, snacks, and a safe space for young conference attendees.
This weekend at Time to Thrive, a conference focused on promoting safety, inclusion and well-being for LGBTQ youth, Executive Director and CEO, Abbe Land, will be a special guest speaker. The Trevor Project has also been invited to discuss how we can enhance resiliency among our young people.
At both conferences, we presented our Trevor CARE Training and Lifeguard Workshop, and our team continued to lead the charge on the mission to end conversion therapy through legislative action. We are grateful for the opportunity to share Trevor’s unique perspective about LGBTQ youth at each of these conferences.
As we move into the first few months of 2014, Trevor is already traveling the states to speak at pivotal LGBTQ conferences around the country. Now, more than ever, it is time to make sure that every LGBTQ young person knows about The Trevor Project.
In January, Trevor was at the Gay Christian Network’s conference in Chicago where we presented Trevor CARE and shared our resources with over 700 LGBTQ Christians, allies, and parents of LGBTQ youth. Next, Trevor is on its way to Texas, where we’ll be at Creating Change – one of the largest LGBTQ conferences in the country – to host the Youth Hospitality Suite, lead our first ever pre-conference session, and participate in seven workshops.
On February 14, The Trevor Project will be attending HRC’s Time to Thrive conference, of which we are a sponsor. I am excited to speak during the conference about Trevor and the life-saving work we do for LGBTQ youth, and our Education Team is also conducting three workshops – two for adults, and one for youth.
Both on and off the road, Trevor is dedicated to furthering our efforts to prevent suicide among LGBTQ youth. Through attending conferences, connecting with new groups of youth and advocates, expanding our ever-growing programs, and gaining momentum on our advocacy initiatives, we know that 2014 will be full of life-changing opportunities. To learn more about the goals we accomplished last year, please stay tuned for our new fully digital annual report, which will be going live later this month.