How Parents Can Give Children Gender-Affirming Care in Hostile States – SheKnows

Texas. Arkansas. Tennessee. Kansas. These are just a few of the many states across the country that are waging a political war against the transgender community. According CNN Analysis data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced so far in 2022. And the year isn’t even over.

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The bulk of these bigoted political attacks are aimed at transgender and non-binary youth, who make up about 18% of the population. 1.6 million trans people in the USA. Some bills seek to ban trans girls and young women from participating in school sports; other measures, such as that of Texas Governor Greg Abbott now infamous anti-trans directive, would criminalize the provision of gender-affirming healthcare to trans youth. In the meantime, these treatments are safe, effective and universally supported by all major medical associations in the United States

Parents who support trans and non-binary youth in states with hostile legislation are deeply concerned about the well-being of their children — and rightly so. In addition to being outright discriminatory, these political attacks alienate and endanger an already vulnerable group. Growing up is hard enough without the psychic toll of your chosen ones constantly invalidating your existence.

But there are reasons for hope. LGBTQ activists and justice advocates are actively fighting this anti-trans crusade via court casebasic political rallies and actionsand signal-building campaigns on social networks. Their message is resoundingly clear: young trans people need our support more than ever.

SheKnows spoke with a few space advocates to better understand this wave of anti-trans legislation and to identify some resources for parents of trans youth who want to do good with their children and their health. Here’s what they recommend.

Listen to your child

Listening to your trans or non-binary child means validating their identity, encouraging them to explore their gender presentation, and using their pronouns and preferred name. This advice may seem simple, but its impact can save lives. A report 2021 of The Trevor Projectan LGBTQ suicide prevention organization, found that trans youth whose gender and pronouns were respected were less likely to attempt suicide.

Trans youth are too often patronized in broader discussions of LGBTQ equality. It’s a phenomenon that Karleigh Webb, journalist and hotline operator for the trans-run peer support organization trans lifeline, seen over and over again. “Contrary to popular belief, young people read the news,” she tells SheKnows. “They understand very well what’s going on, and what’s going on is that there’s a full press effort in this country to remove transgender people – and by extension, LGBTQ people – from American life. .” It’s no wonder that Trans Lifeline gets more panicked calls from trans people and their loved ones when anti-trans bills make headlines — or worse, are signed into law.

So if your child is expressing fear, anxiety, or confusion about the transphobia they see in the headlines, listen to them. You don’t have to have a solution. A little patience, compassion, and a willingness to listen can go a long way to calming their nerves and validating their point of view.

Learn about the policies – and resources – in your state

Although the Biden-Harris administration has made significant strides in asserting the federal rights of trans and non-binary Americans, discriminatory attacks continue to proliferate at the state level. Alexis Rangel, political advisor at the National Center for Trans Equality (NCTE)recommends turning to local organizations for educational resources and legal advice.

“Because the landscape is so different from state to state, it’s really hard to compile [comprehensive] resources,” she tells SheKnows. “The needs of families in Texas, for example, are very different from the needs of families in states that may not be as trans-friendly, but aren’t as hostile.”

“…Tthere is a lot of fear, but there is also a lot of resilience.

Your regional LGBTQ community center is a great place to turn for hyper-local information. (Search for yours via the online directory at CenterLinka coalition made up of members of LGBTQ centers across the country.)

The ACLU also has many state-specific affiliation groups all over the United States. Some of these subsidiaries, such as the texas chapter of the ACLUformed coalitions with other local trans rights groups with the specific goal of helping trans people and their loved ones access information and resources. Unfortunately, for many families, traveling temporarily or moving to a neighboring state without anti-trans laws is “simply not an option,” Rangel says.

“The trans community is no stranger to these kinds of attacks,” she adds. “So there is a lot of fear, but there is also a lot of resilience.

Connect with other parents of trans youth

While raising a trans or non-binary child may seem lonely, there are plenty of other parents out there. Being in community with like-minded defenders is invaluable for exchanging mental and emotional support and maintaining morale in this ongoing fight. Webb recommends connecting directly with other parents, family, and loved ones of trans kids in your city or state.

PFLAGone of the largest LGBTQ youth justice groups in the country, has more than 400 local chapters for LGBTQ youth and their families across the United States Trans Lifeline also has a dedicated Family & Friends Hotline callback service, which is open to friends, partners, parents and family members of trans people who need advice on how best to support their loved ones. US-based callers can access this service by calling the organization’s main hotline at 877-565-8860 and asking for the Friends & Family line.

“If you’re not sure and need someone to talk to, give us a call,” Webb says. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Be ready to engage in political action

Voting for elected officials who vocally support the trans community is extremely important in this fight. (Texans—your next chance to vote transphobic Governor Abbott removed from office fast approaching.) But when the going gets tough, parents of trans youth who live in hostile states or regions may need to engage in more divisive political action, such as protesting or calling out their state officials. This can be a great opportunity to model different forms of civic engagement for your child.

“You have to be prepared to stand in that space and fight.”

“You have to be prepared to stand in that gap and fight,” Webb says. “No matter how you feel about the protest, no matter how you feel about being on the streets, no matter how you feel about visiting your elected officials, you have to TO DO.” This also applies to educators, counselors and other professionals who work with trans youth. “All it takes is a teacher, an administrator, a counselor to be there, and that can set the tone.”

Last, but not least: If your child is personally impacted by an anti-trans policy in your state, contact the appropriate federal agency to document it. The departments of Education and Health and social servicesfor example, have forms on their respective websites to report instances of discrimination.

“These are things that take time and don’t necessarily address families’ immediate concerns,” Rangel says. “So it’s more of a long-term way to solve this problem, but we want to make sure that the federal government is aware of all these things.”

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, remember there is hope! Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “FORCE” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org. For LGBTQ youth who need to talk to someone who is assertive and willing to help, call the Trevor Youth Project’s 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-866-488-7386 and/or The Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860.

Before you go, check out the mental health apps we love for some extra TLC for your brain:

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