Each year between November 13 – 19 people participate in Transgender Awareness Week, to help raise the visibility about the issues that members of the transgender community face. This is followed by Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th, a day that honours the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence that year.
My name is Alex, and I am the Project Co-ordinator and Support Lead at The Wolfpack Project. I run the social support groups for young people that we host each month.
I am also transgender.
This picture is a happy one; right now, I am a happy man and I am celebrating this week being proud of who I am. But this definitely wasn’t always the case.
When I was a young person growing up and at school, I had no one to talk to about my experiences and how isolated they made me feel. I felt completely alone and like no one was there to support me or understand me. This in turn had a hugely negative impact on my mental health, and for years I struggled alone, watching myself get sadder, more anxious, and lonelier by the year.
It wasn’t until I met other trans people in my early 20s that I truly felt seen and understood, until I finally felt like I belonged and that my experiences were valid. It took creating friendships with others who had also been through the things I had been through that made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the world.
Until then, I faced many fears and uncertainties. Will my family understand? Will my friends still love me? Will I be discriminated against at work? Will it be unsafe for me to go out in public?
Many transgender young people worry that their families will disown them. The stats show that this fear is rooted in reality for many LGBTQ+ youth. As many as 40% of homeless young people identify as LGBTQ+. If a transgender child or young adult becomes homeless, they face a higher risk for a number of health issues: hunger and malnutrition, assault and muggings, and psychological trauma.
Between 1 October 2020 and 30 September 2021, at least 375 trans, non-binary or gender non-conforming people were slain across the world. One in four trans people murdered globally were killed in their own home, according to data compiled by the Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide (TvTW), a Transgender Europe project.
This is why it is SO important to show young trans people that they are not alone; for places like schools, social clubs, and local venues and organisations to share important information for their wellbeing and to provide safe spaces for them to be themselves.
In a world that is not always kind to us, organisations like The Wolfpack Project can be the difference between life and death. I know I would have benefits from LGBTQ+ social groups as a teenager, and I hope that the LGBTQ+ groups I run today can make trans people in Nottingham feel a bit more connected and supported.
Without community, I wouldn’t be here today.
So this Trans Awareness Week, please remember that kindness, tolerance, and empathy go a long way. Read up about trans issues, support your trans friends, family, co-workers and peers, ask (non-evasive) questions, and learn.
If you’d like to come along to our LGBTQ+ social groups, or you’d like some one-to-one support, you can find out more here.