Farmington Hills workshop empowers trans youth

A workshop held in Farmington HIlls on Saturday, October 19 is designed to empower trans/gender diverse youth and young children as well as parents/caregivers of trans individuals.

Stand with Trans will hold its 5th Annual Trans Empowerment Workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Orchard United Methodist Church, 30450 Farmington Rd. Advance registration is required at https://bit.ly/2Mbj3Yy. Lite breakfast, lunch and snacks are provided.

Over half of transgender youth have attempted or seriously contemplated suicide. A major cause for this alarming rate is a lack of support from family and community.

When a transgender child feels like they have support, the suicide attempt rate drops to less than 5 percent. LGBTQ+ kids who have at least one supportive adult in their lives are 40 percent less likely to attempt suicide than those who have no supportive adults. One person can mean the difference between life and death for an LGBTQ+ child.

2.2 million youth cope with severe major depression. Depression in youth often co-occurs with other disorders like substance use, anxiety and disorderly behavior.

13 percent of youth report suffering from at least one major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year.

Stand with Trans provides empowerment and support to youth and their families at a rate of 100 percent.

Kyle’s* suicidal ideation first started in seventh grade, when he didn’t feel like he fit in. He knew that he was a boy, his body just didn’t. It insisted on giving him all the gifts, wanted or not, that come with feminizing puberty. The only people like him were the targets of jokes, harassment, and bullying, even the adults.

He started to get so depressed that he hid paperclips in his sleeves, which he would use to scratch at the inside of his wrists during class. He kept his secret, even when his parents put him in therapy after a call from a friend’s mother on the day he had decided he would end his life.

By college, there were weeks where Kyle wouldn’t leave his room, eventually forced by friends to even walk down the hallway of his “all-girls” dorm to take a shower. He spent nights by himself in the dark, holding a pair of scissors too close. He narrowly avoided a hospital stay. For years, he kept his head down and his mouth shut, the darkness of his own thoughts chipping away at him night after night.

Kids like Kyle face life or death circumstances every day. The things that wound up saving Kyle’s life were love, support, and acceptance. Kyle was able to find other people like him at a support group run by students. Soon after, he started to come out to his friends, professors, and eventually his family. He had no idea the amount of love and support that would come his way, being embraced for who he truly was.

His parents tried to learn everything they could about being transgender. His mother joined the LGBTQ+ alliance at her place of work. His parents had saved his life by taking his threats seriously, and they continue to save it by creating a space for their child that puts love before gender expectations.

Stand with Trans, the only organization in Michigan whose mission is to support transgender youth, has been providing a source of light in the darkness to these underserved, marginalized children and their families since 2015. The Annual Trans Empowerment Workshop centered around providing resources, education, and most importantly connection to transgender youth and families is made possible by support from sponsors like Bernard Wealth Management, Springmatter Fund, Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, University of Michigan, Know Resolve, Mercedes Benz Financial Services, Beaumont, the Ruth Ellis Center, Affirmations and others.

According to last year’s attendee survey, 100 percent of youth felt empowered, supported, and validated. Children as young as 5 and adolescents up to 22 are welcomed into the children’s and youth sections, with multiple activities to choose from throughout the day including Drag Queen Story Hour and pet therapy for the young children and Improv, Queer in the Workspace, Sexual Health and more for the youth. It’s free for all youth to attend. Parents and caregivers of trans individuals also have multiple sessions to choose from, including Accepting Parenting Practices, Trans and other co-occurring diagnoses, Surgical Options and more.

So many kids like Kyle have a chance at a better future when they are shown acceptance and support and Stand with Trans looks to offer this in a unique way that will, quite literally, last a lifetime.

For more information, contact Roz at roz@standwithtrans.org or visit https://bit.ly/2Mbj3Yy.

*Kyle is a pseudonym.