Supporting Trans & Gender Diverse Youth
In 2017, Newfoundland and Labrador announced it will allow gender-neutral birth certificates – one of the first provinces in the country to do so. It’s just one of the ways the province is learning to support transgender and gender-nonconforming Canadians.
“I think interest in how to better support trans people has increased in certain areas over the last few years,” says Tj Jones, executive director of Trans Support NL. “The number of requests we receive for educational sessions and speaking engagements – across a wide variety of community services and institutions, no less – are a clear indicator of this fact.”
One of the group’s key areas is their work with gender diverse youth and their parents. Along with their support groups, they now offer a childcare playgroup for younger gender creative kids and siblings. They’ve also partnered with Echo Pond Summer Camps to deliver their second Camp Rainbow, a camp for 7 to 15-year-old trans, two-spirit and gender diverse kids.
“I feel like there is movement at the top of some of our systems, and yet, we still see so many issues on the ground,” says Jones. Jones says there is a need for increased access to locally assessed and performed [gender affirming] surgeries, as well as a need to address discrimination and transphobia, particularly in the workplace.
“Personally, I do believe that the level of support for trans people in NL now, compared to five years ago, has definitely increased,” says Blair Curtis of the newest branch of Parents of Trans and Gender Diverse Kids, based in the Western region of the province. “I think more people are becoming aware and informed on what being transgender means. People are becoming more knowledgeable.”
“Over the next five years, my hope is that the support for trans people will only increase to the point that trans people do not have to even ‘come out’,” says Curtis. “They can just say ‘this is me’ and be allowed to be themselves.”