Please check out these two important articles on LGBTQ youth.
First, a piece in the Boston Globe about a family’s journey with their transgender daughter. It is a wonderful story about their experiences and how supportive and loving they are with Nicole. Nicole has a twin, Jonas so they’ve been an interesting contributor to medical research on the impact of medical treatments for transgender adolescents.
Wayne and Kelly Maines have struggled to know whether they are doing the right things for their children, especially for Wyatt, who now goes by the name Nicole. Was he merely expressing a softer side of his personality, or was he really what he kept saying: a girl in a boy’s body? Was he exhibiting early signs that he might be gay? Was it even possible, at such a young age, to determine what exactly was going on?
Until recently, there was little help for children in such situations. But now a groundbreaking clinic at Children’s Hospital in Boston — one of the few of its kind in the world — helps families deal with the issues, both emotional and medical, that arise from having a transgender child — one who doesn’t identify with the gender he or she was born into.
The Children’s Hospital Gender Management Services Clinic can, using hormone therapies, halt puberty in transgender children, blocking the development of secondary sexual characteristics — a beard, say, or breasts — that can make the eventual transition to the other gender more difficult, painful, and costly.
Here’s a powerful video of Wayne Mains (Nicole’s father) at the GLAAD Spirit of Justice dinner. GLAAD is working with local attorneys to advocate for Nicole’s civil rights and access to a safe educational environment.
Second story ABC News is profiling various people experiencing homelessness. One segment was devoted to LGBTQ homeless youth and young adults in New York City.
About 20 to 40 percent of youth who leave home like Cocco to live on the streets identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), according toNational Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
In one study, 26 percent of teens who came out to their parents were told they must leave home. Others said they were physically, sexually or emotionally abused. The task force added that LGBT youth also reported that they are threatened, belittled and abused at shelters, not only by other residents, but by staff, as well.
Resources for homeless LGBT youth are scarce and shelters are at capacity, especially in New York City where the Ali Forney Center (AFC), estimates 3,800 youth are homeless, about 1,600 of them LGBT.
But they have only 250 beds for youth like Cocco, and state and city funding has been drying up.
Follow the link to read the rest and/or watch it on video. The system does not have good mechanisms for LGBTQ youth who aren’t able to live with supportive family members – whether it be the educational system that Nicole and her family struggles with or the foster care system or the homeless services system. Child welfare for LGBTQ youth reflects the second-class status of LGBTQ people as a whole. Coupled with the disregard to impoverished children (and adults) and none of this is particularly startling.
But the media coverage and the willingness of all of these individuals to personalize these experiences is pretty damn important.
Kudos to them.