According to a new study by the University of Minnesota, more teens than ever before are identifying as transgender or gender-nonconforming. The research shows that nearly 3% of teens between 13 and 17 now identify as transgender, much more than the .7% reported last year in a study by UCLA. That means we can assume there are 750,000 transgender teens of the 25 million teens between 13 and 17 in the US right now.
“Diverse gender identities are more prevalent than people would expect,” said lead author Nic Rider, a University of Minnesota postdoctoral fellow who studies transgender health.
The study also found that these kids reported worse mental and physical health than other kids, echoing results seen in previous research. Bullying and discrimination are among possible reasons for the differences, Rider said, although the survey didn’t ask. According to the Human Rights Campaign, over 40% of transgender teens have attempted suicide at least one time in their life.
To help the growing population of teens identifying as transgender and gender non-conforming, Santa Barbara Transgender Advocacy Network (SBTAN) just introduced a brand new youth group specifically directed at supporting local transgender and gender non-conforming teens ages 13 to 17. Their local transgender center, Lisa’s Place, will open to teens ages 13-17 every Wednesday afternoon from 4:30 to 6:30.
Syd Abad, one of the volunteers running the youth group, says “We hope to bring the younger trans community together, as junior high and high school can be really rough for trans youth.” Abad knows firsthand the hardships transgender youth experience as a recent graduate from Dos Pueblos High School and a current freshman at Santa Barbara City College.
“Being a teenager is already hard. Now imagine being a trans teen.” ~Syd Abad
“With growing trans visibility in the United States, some youth might find it safer to come out and talk about gender exploration,” Rider said. That is exactly why Abad is creating a welcoming space where teens can play games, talk about life, ask questions and so much more. Abad says “We want to set good examples for the youth and hope to show them that life as a trans adult can be successful and fulfilling.”
The new teen hangout is just one more support service that SBTAN is offering Santa Barbara and the surrounding area. In addition to an adult transgender center, and parent support groups, SBTAN offers gender training to help schools, businesses, government agencies, and other groups to be better allies to our transgender community.
For more information on SBTAN, the Teen Group, Lisa’s Place, or how to have your organization trained contact SBTAN at firstname.lastname@example.org