Greater visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, coupled with an increasing awareness of the need for widespread recognition and acceptance of those who are transgender (trans), marked 2015 as a significant year for trans rights and equality.
A transgender person is simply a person whose gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth. A number of misconceptions and stereotypes regarding the experience of trans individuals exist, but ever-increasing numbers of transgender people, celebrities, public figures, and allies work to address these issues and achieve equal rights and treatment for trans individuals, regardless of their gender identity or expression.
Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, and Jazz Jennings are just a few who have spoken about their experiences in 2015. Jazz Jennings, a model, activist, and youth ambassador for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, is one of the youngest women to speak publicly about being trans. She stars in a reality TV series and also works with her parents on behalf of trans youth. Caitlyn Jenner’s widely publicized coming-out story is believed to have helped facilitate a deeper understanding of gender expression and identity among members of her generation, and television shows such as Transparent work to increase mainstream visibility and normalize the experience of members of the trans community.
In April of 2015, President Obama issued a statement speaking out against conversion therapy, a controversial practice purported to “treat” a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. A number of organizations (including GoodTherapy.org) have disavowed this practice, believing it to do more harm than good, and several states now have laws preventing parents from seeking this treatment on behalf of their minor children.
Simply being trans does not mean a person will experience a mental health concern, but elements of cultural transphobia and discrimination may contribute to the likelihood of trans individuals developing anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem, or having thoughts of suicide. Further, gender dysphoria—clinically significant distress experienced as a result of gender identity that does not align with gender assigned at birth—is experienced by some who are trans or gender non-conforming, and this dysphoria can have a negative impact on well-being.
- TransYouth Family Allies: TYFA is the only national nonprofit exclusively advocating for trans youth. This organization largely works with communities to provide resources and support to parents, educators, and health care practitioners, furthering the development of environments where all youth can express their gender without fearing prejudice, harassment, or other harm. Visitors can access videos, news articles, recommended reading lists, and a message board forum designed for parents and guardians of trans and gender nonconforming youth. TYFA also offers educational programs designed for parents and educators of gender variant and trans children.
- Trans Student Educational Resources: The youth leaders of TSER are dedicated to ending oppression of trans and gender-nonconforming students, in part by creating an education system more friendly to these individuals. This organization also aims to educate trans youth who wish to become more organized, effective activists. Visitors to the site can access a number of resources, including infographics; scholarship information; and reading materials about policy, education, and representation of trans individuals in the media. TSER also offers workshops, which site visitors can request for their school, event, or conference.
- World Professional Association for Transgender Health: WPATH, a nonprofit organization, works toward the development of health care policies that promote and support care among transgender, transsexual, and gender nonconforming individuals worldwide. The website provides, among other resources, a transgender health bibliography, and offers courses and workshops for health care professionals interested in best practices in transgender health care. WPATH also has a provider directory for individuals who wish to see a certified transgender health care provider.
- Transparenthood: Designed by the mother of a transgender child, Transparenthood is a personal blog that largely features personal essays and also offers a list of media resources, support resources, and a school assessment tool. Transparenthood’s founder hopes the documentation of her family’s journey will help other families in similar situations to obtain the resources, information, and support that was not available to her.
- Gender Spectrum: This nonprofit organization provides research- and experience-based training, events, and consultations designed to facilitate greater understanding of gender identity and expression. Visitors to Gender Spectrum’s website can access The Lounge, an online space for teens, parents, and professionals to form communities and connect with each other. The site also offers comprehensive resources, articles, and links to support services.
- TransWhat?: This comprehensive site is a “guide toward allyship.” The site’s creator, a trans teenager, developed the site in an effort to address myths and stereotypes directed toward members of the trans community. Visitors to the site can read detailed articles about transition, allyship, misconceptions regarding trans individuals, and ways to combat transphobia. Individuals who want to become better allies may find this site a helpful place to start.
- Transgender Law Center: The Transgender Law Center works toward the goal of equality for all people, regardless of gender expression. This nonprofit helps change law and policy in order to allow all people to live as their authentic selves without fear of discrimination. Visitors to the site can access information about programs offered by the organization, read blog articles focusing on relevant current events and trans issues, and obtain information about a variety of legal services. Individuals affected by employment discrimination, family legal issues, and health care concerns, for example, may find this site a helpful resource.
- The National Center for Transgender Equality: NCTE, founded by trans activists, is the leading social justice advocacy organization in the United States. This organization works to change discriminatory and harmful laws and policies and end violence against transgender people. Visitors to the site can access statistics and obtain information about transgender rights and issues, learn how to be a good ally, review legal documents and policy about current transgender rights, and access information about filing legal complaints and legally changing name and gender.
- Trans Youth Equality Foundation: This organization works to advocate for and support trans and gender-nonconforming youth and educate their families. TYEF’s website offers a glossary of relevant terms and information on support groups and services offered by the organization, which include camps and a crisis helpline. TYEF also offers a binder drive for trans youth in need. Educators and health care professionals can also request training and workshops through the site.
- Trans Lifeline: This nonprofit runs a hotline, staffed exclusively by trans people, for trans people. The operators are volunteers who have received education in the wide range of difficulties experienced by those who are trans identified or unsure of their gender identity. Trans individuals in crisis or experiencing any difficulty or need for service are encouraged to call.
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