On Transgender Day of Visibility, we recognize and celebrate the lives and achievements of youth and families who identify as transgender or gender-diverse. Children’s Minnesota has the gift of working with transgender and gender diverse kids and teens in our Gender Health program. We are consistently impressed by their courage, resilience, creativity, kindness, humor and all the ways they are amazing each and every day.
At Children’s Minnesota, we also recognize the unique impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on transgender and gender-diverse youth and families. Feeling connected to peers through school groups and youth drop-in centers is often crucial for LGBTQ young people. Sometimes, these places are the only chance for LGBTQ youth to fully be themselves and feel affirmed. When access to those programs and activities is limited or cut off, that can have a significant impact on their overall well-being.
How COVID-19 is impacting transgender and gender-diverse kids and teens
The COVID-19 outbreak has led communities to close schools, encourage social distancing and other strategies in order to reduce the spread of the virus. The social isolation that results from being at home and lack of connection to friends and other important figures is stressful, particularly if their families are not supportive of their gender identity.
50-60 percent of LGBTQ youth do not feel supported by families in their identities, and they may hear negative comments about their identities in their homes. In addition, LGBTQ+ youth may not have a home, as they are 120 percent more likely to experience homelessness than their straight and cisgender peers.
These factors are combined with the fact that transgender youth are far more likely than their non-transgender peers to experience depression — nearly four times the risk, according to one study (Reisner 2015), making the social isolation that can come with “shelter in place” and other physical distancing tools during the COVID-19 pandemic even harder for LGBTQ youth.
For transgender children and youth, family and community support makes all the difference. Although research has repeatedly found that transgender children experience mental health problems, including higher rates of suicidality, a recent study found that transgender children whose families affirmed their gender identity were as psychologically healthy as their non-transgender peers (Olson 2016).
Helping transgender and gender-diverse youth during COVID-19
For youth to thrive in schools, homes and communities, they need to feel socially, emotionally and physically safe and supported. Helping transgender and gender-diverse youth feel seen, heard, and loved during this time will involve reminding them of supportive social connections. Remember that you can practice physical distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while still supporting youth to be socially and emotionally connected.
The following resources for LGBTQ+ youth and families have a specific focus on transgender and gender-diverse youth, help promote connectedness, build community, and celebrate the courage it takes for youth to live out their authentic identities, particularly in challenging times.
Resources for LGBTQ+ youth and families
- The Neighborhood: A virtual hub for LGBTQ+ families with a list of virtual events during the COVID-19 pandemic for families and kids of all ages.
- It Gets Better Project: Listen to stories of LGBTQ+ youth and find local resources.
- Ten Percent Happier: A meditation website and app that provides a Coronavirus Sanity Guide for youth and parents.
- Gender Spectrum: A resource for transgender, gender-diverse and non-binary youth and families with several online groups for youth and families.
- TIGERRS: Social support group in MN for trans and gender expansive youth. Check out their Facebook page for virtual ways to connect.
- Transforming Families: A Twin Cities based support group for families of transgender and gender-diverse youth. Monthly meetings will be held via Zoom.
- Q Chat Space: A bully-free online community of LGBTQ+ teens that can chat with their peers and trained staff from LGBTQ+ centers around the country.
- Walk-in Counseling: A Twin Cities based organization that provides free therapy, is now offering free phone or internet-based counseling state wide.
In addition to the resources above, there are different crisis lines that can be accessed 24 hours a day.
Trevor Project: (866)-488-7386 or text START to 678678
Trans Lifeline: (877)-565-8860
MN Crisis text line: Text MN to 741741
If shelter is needed
Bridge for Youth is a shelter for youth that is LGBTQ+ affirming and focuses on reuniting families when safe and possible.
Children’s Minnesota Gender Health program
COVID-19 has put communities around the nation in an uncertain time. Children’s Minnesota is here to help anyone struggling with social isolation, including transgender and gender-diverse youth.
Children’s Minnesota Gender Health program is an exclusively pediatric, multidisciplinary gender health program, and includes pediatric gender health, endocrinology and gynecology physicians and social work.
The Gender Health program provides compassionate and comprehensive care for transgender and gender-diverse youth. We’re dedicated to serving as an essential medical partner and resource for transgender youth and families along their journey. We are here to help, every step along the way.