Advocate for Youth is a project that provides resources and support to transgender, transsexual, and genderqueer youth
The site includes features such as an examination of the assumptions we make about sex and gender, as well as stories from other young people about their experiences being transgender
There is also information available about being trans, including articles about therapy, health, and trans youth and transitioning. These resources are for young people and their parents, educators and other professionals who work with this population.
These resources are for young people and their parents, educators and other professionals who work with this population. They include information on trans youth themselves, health care providers, therapists, medical specialists in transition-related care, legal experts on name changes or changing identification documents to reflect a new gender designation.
Table of Contents
- What Does LGBTQ+ Stand For?
- The Intersections of Faith and Sexual Orientation
- A Day in The Life of a Young Queer Person of Color
- Becoming Myself
- For Transguys
- For Transwomen
By their very definition, Queerness refers to an observance of a person’s experiences in the world that deviates from the traditional gender binary. What this means for those who identify as queer is that they do not exclusively identify with any one gender and they are therefore open to dating anyone regardless of sex, gender identity or gender expression. It is a form of non-monogamy which allows both men and women to engage in intimate relationships with other people while enjoying full autonomy over their sexuality.
What Does LGBTQ+ Stand For?
This is a question that many people outside of the LGBTQ+ community struggle to answer. For an acronym like LGBTQ+, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (and more), it can be hard to know where to start. Here we’ll break down this acronym into its different parts and look at what they mean in order!
L – Lesbian or Gay: This part of the acronym stands for lesbian and gay. Lesbian is often used as a self-explanatory term, meaning women who are attracted to other women. Gay can mean a few different things, but it is most commonly used as a term for men who are attracted to other men.
G – Gender: This part of the acronym stands for gender or the binary gender system (male and female genders). The LGBTQ+ community often defines themselves around their gender identity rather than their sexual orientation. This is because Gender Identity has a much more fluid meaning and can therefore be used to express themselves in many different ways that don’t follow the traditional male/female binary.
B – Bisexual: This part of the acronym stands for bisexual, which is sometimes known as bi. People who identify as bisexual are attracted to both men and women.
T – Transgender: This part of the acronym is short for transgender or trans. Historically, this has been used as an umbrella term to mean lots of gender identities that go beyond male and female. In more recent times, it has become synonymous with non-binary and non-cisgender identities (see below). Trans people don’t strictly identify as male or female.
Q – Queer: This part of the acronym stands for queer, which has traditionally been used as a derogatory term against lesbian and gay people. However, it has also been reclaimed by some LGBTQ+ people when they want to express themselves in a non-binary way or simply talk about gender and sexuality issues.
A – Asexual/Ally: This part of the acronym stands for Ally or Asexuality. The “A” can stand for both of these things because they are closely linked. An ally is a supporter of LGBTQ+ people and is someone who doesn’t identify as part of the community themselves. Asexuality means someone who experiences little or no sexual attraction to others.
– Genderqueer: This part of the acronym stands for genderqueer, or non-binary. People who identify as genderqueer are someone who identifies their gender identity as neither male or female.
The Intersections of Faith and Sexual Orientation
Many people, young and old, struggle with the issue of whether or not you can be OUT and be a member of a faith community. For everyone out there who doesn’t know if this is possible or anyone who has questions about the ability to be an authentic faith-filled person while keeping yourself accountable to your identity, let me tell you it is possible!
When I was younger my grandmother always wanted me to go to church with her. It was our time to dress up together. I liked going because I wanted to spend time with her and I wanted to be a part of what made her so happy. But I felt conflicted because I’ve been OUT since I was 13, and I knew I wasn’t accepted in her place of worship. I made the sacrifice anyway and attended when I could.
I had a girlfriend at the time and I invited her to come with me. She said that God didn’t love gay people. At that time I didn’t have a label for myself and I had never before heard what she had said. Her mother told her that God hated her because we liked each other. She wasn’t allowed to see me but she was allowed to go to church so I could see her there. She wouldn’t come, though. She didn’t feel comfortable liking girls and going to a place of faith. She felt ashamed. She felt the resistance from faith communities and as such she became alienated. Later on in life I examined this situation and was discouraged to know that it had had a negative affect on my as well.
After my grandmother passed, I didn’t revisit faith issues for a very long time. As a political person I was angry with the mainstream rhetoric. It was difficult for me to try to seek out faith when it seemed to me that religion was fueling the campaign to ban gay marriage and faith communities nationwide were fighting against gay marriage. I was hurt by the national campaigns and further alienated from religion.
I now realize however that not all faith communities are like this. In fact, I am welcomed and affirmed in many communities of faith. This was something I didn’t know before and I am so glad that I do now. Religion is a personal choice, by all means. But we live in a country where religious groups have dominated the discussion about what it means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ). Now that I am working in communities of faith that are open to my sexual orientation, I feel that it is my duty to spread awareness that accepting communities exist.
We, as people, have to think about the affect religious opposition has on the LGBT community as well as society as a whole. Episcopalian Bishop Rev. V. Gene Robinson, from New Hampshire, spoke during a plenary session at the 20th Creating Change Conference in Detroit, Michigan in February 2008. Rev. Robinson is an openly gay bishop. During his speech he made comments that were helpful in my understanding, and finding the intersections between our individual experiences of faith and how to grapple with our sexual orientation. “All of our religious traditions tell us that there is a risk to be had when we tell the truth,” Rev. Robinson said.
“We’ve got something worth dying for here and it’s our dignity,” he proclaimed towards the end of his speech when talking about the LGBTQ community fighting for equality in all institutions and facets of society.
For many, religion is a major part of life. For some it is what gets them up in the morning, for others it’s what keeps them in bed. The fear of rejection from various religious communities has had a negative impact on the LGBTQ community. Hope is on the rise. “We are coming into a new era where LGBTQ groups are partnering with religious groups,” Rev. Robinson declared during his plenary speech.
Currently I’m working with the American Friends Service Committee where I am an interfaith organizer in the Michigan Inclusive Justice Program. The goal of this program is to engage, organize and educate religious organizations and communities of any faith about LGBTQ issues. Programs like this and many others around the world are bridging the gap between faith, sexuality and life.
A Day in The Life of a Young Queer Person of Color
Every day I wake up, stretch my arms, kick my blanket off my body, take a look in the mirror and the first thing that comes to mind is, oh yeah I’m a person of color and then it hits me that I am also part of the queer community and finally I’m a youth. Starting off every day with three strikes against me leaves me with the feeling that I am, indefinitely, “out”.
Let me introduce myself, my name is E, yes that’s right just E. I am 19, brown and queer. Every morning I am faced with the fact that just by existing I face obstacles most of my other peers never have to go through. Queer People of Color (QPOC) face many struggles. We can encounter challenges, feeling as if we are “other” within the Queer community AND within communities of color, yet these differences can be totally separate from each other. On the other hand these “issues” or feelings of “otherness” may also intersect at some points, creating new isolated differences.
Forced to Choose Between Identities
QPOC frequently feel as if they must choose between their ethnic community and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans (LGBT) community because they experience discrimination within both. For both religious and cultural reasons, ethnic minorities can be less accepting of sexual orientations other than heterosexuals and the coming out process of QPOC often differs greatly from most LGBT people. The families of QPOC face unique challenges as well, with language and cultural barriers keeping many from the support and resources they might need. Even within the LGBT community, which should be most accepting of QPOC based on shared sexual orientation, QPOC often feel marginalized. It is not uncommon for QPOC to report feeling invisible within the one community they wish to be a part of. In fact, for many who identify as QPOC a racist society, ostracism from the GLBT community can contribute to risk-taking behaviors, lowered self esteem and feelings of being alone.
At its most extreme form, this discrimination may contribute to increased risk of HIV infection among young gay men of color, some of whom may engage in high-risk behavior in order to feel accepted by the predominately white gay community. For others these feelings may lead to other risk-taking behaviors i.e. substance abuse (drugs, alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs), suicide, self-harm, homelessness, depression, etc. All of these behaviors can stem from lowered self esteem, ostracism and the feeling of being alone.
How to Support QPOC Youth
Young QPOC are often at great risk for many of these feelings and behaviors and so it is imperative that these youth receive immediate support. Some things that individuals or groups can do to support these young people include:
- Providing special services such as support groups or counseling for youth who identify as QPOC
- Creating safe space in agencies, schools and homes for young QPOC
- Vigilantly redress prejudice and homophobia whenever it arises
- Educating our communities (both LGBT and communities of color) about issues that pertain to QPOC
- Advocating for the health of QPOC patients
SUPPORT – CREATING A QPOC SAFE SPACE
There is a need to create supportive networks for young people who identify as QPOC, their friends and significant others. You can help create that network of supporters in communities of color and in the LGBT community by:
- Inviting QPOC as active members of LGBT communities and communities of color.
- Increasing visibility of LGBT issues within ethnic communities – talk about your experiences or about issues in the news and encourage others to do so as well!
- Provide a forum for QPOC to address the specific issues they face – listen to what other QPOC have to say.
EDUCATE – INFORMING OUR PEERS
It is important for allies of the QPOC community to make the issues/barriers apparent to the greater communities. The best way for a person to show support for this community is to bring up these issues and make them known in their respective community. Encourage QPOC to discuss how the community can best meet their needs. Help them to advocate for a space where they can openly and safely discuss issues related to their identity without being confronted by homophobia or racism.
Be aware of the issues
- Just as society marginalizes people of color, the LGBT community marginalizes QPOC.
- QPOC are affected by multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.
- QPOC have a unique perspective on being LGBT that may be different from what most GLBT people experience.
Be aware of challenges that all LGBT people, including QPOC, may face:
- Within a homophobic culture, it can be difficult to identifying—even to oneself—that you are LGBT
- Many LGBT youth have difficulty doming out to family, who may not be accepting
- Coming out to friends may also pose challenges
- Identifying with or becoming a part of the LGBT community may not be as easy for some young LGBT folks than for others.
But be aware that QPOC also face special challenges:
- Identifying with and coming out to an ethnic community can be hard
- Coming out to a spiritual/faith-based community –a community that may play an even greater role in the lives of youth of color than other youth—may also present difficulty
- Identifying with both communities (LGBT and communities of color) presents challenges for many QPOC
Queer people of color are often forced to choose to identify with only one community, and can never really accept themselves as part of each. Many young QPOC find that neither community understands or is FULLY able to acknowledge the values of the other. On multiple occasions these QPOC youth feel like they can not out themselves either as a person of color or as an LGBT youth.
Although my struggles are similar to my white LGBT identified peers, in some respects they are also totally different. Every day I am faced with situations where both communities ostracize me. Difficulties with language, culture and levels of acceptance exclude me even more. In Mexico we wouldn’t talk about our bodies, our sexual orientation, or our gender. Talking about these things is taboo; my parents couldn’t even use the words penis or vagina without referring to it as “down there”.
Explaining my sexuality, gender and orientation in English is something that I’ve become accustomed to doing. Translating that conversation to Spanish doesn’t go as smoothly. You see, in Spanish there isn’t a word for QUEER, or HOMOSEXUAL, the words used are derogatory and repulsive. For me to define myself I have to try and use English words with a Spanish accent. One word I do know in Spanish is MARICON, a word I often heard growing up and the English equivalent to FAGGOT. Coming out for me wasn’t about being comfortable with myself or worrying about what people might think. It was more about finding the right words to tell them I was gay. Eventually I just used the derogatory words.
I am constantly bombarded with images about what an LGBT person is “supposed” to look like. Every day I see images that I can’t relate to. Blond hair, blue eyes, a slender figure, a limp wrist, rainbows and glitter—all of these things are so foreign to me. I searched for years to find a QPOC role model that looked like me, or that I could relate to. I don’t see this, I couldn’t find this. What I did find is a conclusion.
I am not a statistic, I am not exactly identical to my peers. I don’t have to be. I don’t have to be a certain kind of person to fit in. I don’t even have to like rainbows. I don’t have to try to please others, but I do need to be happy with myself. I don’t need you to accept me. I don’t need you to look at me and think I’m beautiful. I don’t need to be the perfect height, weight, shape, or color. I don’t need to be perfect, not for you, or for anyone else. I do need to be happy for me. I need to be able to walk down the street with my head held high and my chest in the air, walking proud. I need to feel accepted, for everything I am, for everything I want to be.
Ultimately I am myself, I am E and that’s all I have to be. I am a Queer Identified Person. I am Mexican. I am Youth. I’m just E.
Gender Education and Advocacy is a project of advocates for youth. They believe in the power of youth to change the world, and their mission is to empower young people with education and resources so they can realize their full potential as leaders in all aspects of society.
The organization provides workshops on topics like LGBTQIA+ identities, intersectionality, sexual health, consent and more – all through a lens that centers the voices of teens. This year we’re focusing on how young people can advocate for themselves! When you sign up for our free workshop series, you’ll learn about different types of advocacy (e.g., voting), reflect on your strengths & interests (e.g., activism) and get tips from others who’ve been there before (e.g., through a youth panel).
The National Center for Transgender Equality is dedicated to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people. We are committed to advancing equality by educating the public about the challenges, obstacles, and achievements of transgender people; mobilizing advocates for trans justice in Congress, legislatures, communities, and workplaces; collaborating with coalition partners on state-based advocacy efforts; supporting litigation that will advance legal protections for trans people; advocating at international institutions like the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and World Health Organization to protect access to healthcare services from which transgender people too often remain excluded. In short: we’re here to make life better for all transgender people – today and always.
The IFGE is a project of advocates for youth. The goal of the program is to provide resources, information and advocacy for LGBT youth in order to promote their mental health and wellbeing.
Want to know more about Southern Comfort? You’ve come to the right place.
This is a project of advocates for youth, and they want you to be informed about all things related to your development as an adolescent in today’s society. They aim to provide information on topics that are relevant and important, such as relationships with parents or peers, school pressure or bullying, social media use or abuse, mental health issues like depression and anxiety. And they do it all in an interactive way so that there is something for everyone here. This includes articles on how-to tips for handling certain situations (like managing your time) as well as quizzes (such as what type of friend are you?) which will help you understand yourself a little better.
Transguys are males who live lives as females. They may take hormones, dress in female clothing and change their name to a feminine one. Some Transguys choose to have surgery and others do not. Transguys identify themselves in different ways: transgender, transsexual or genderqueer. The term “Transguy” is often used by someone who was assigned male at birth but identifies as female after puberty when they still have male genitalia.
FTM International is an organization for transguys. It was founded in 2006 by a group of likeminded individuals who wanted to help other Transguys and their families with information, resources and support that they may not have been able to find elsewhere.
FTM International’s mission statement: FTM International (FTMI) exists to be a beacon of hope and the voice for the voiceless; we seek to empower all people on their journey toward understanding themselves as whole beings within our diverse communities while striving towards living healthy lives with dignity. We will achieve this through education, empowerment, advocacy and global community building.
True Spirit Conference
The True Spirit Conference is an annual conference for LGBTQ youth and allies that has been hosted in different cities across Canada since 2009. The conference provides a space where participants can be themselves, share their stories, talk about issues they are facing, learn from others and have fun!
The event is staffed by volunteers who believe that everyone deserves to love themselves just the way they are. It also offers workshops on everything from self-esteem to safe sex practices to how to start your own Gay Straight Alliance group at school.
This year’s True Spirit Conference will be held in Toronto on October 6th-8th 2016. Attendees need only register online or drop by the registration desk when they arrive at one of our fantastic venues.
Transwomen are women. Period. Transwomen are women, and their womanhood is valid and real; it’s not a costume or an imitation. Women come to understand our womanhood in different ways, but we all share one thing in common: We know when someone says that we aren’t really women because of how we identify or what kinds of clothes we wear that they don’t get to define our gender identity for us.” – Laverne Cox
Transsexual Road Map is a project of advocates for youth. They are passionate about helping transgender and gender-variant people navigate their lives with more authenticity, self-respect, and safety.”