Identifying as transgender is not easy. Statistics demonstrate that transgender individuals are four times more likely to be physically assaulted than those who are cisgender (those whose gender identity matches the one they were assigned at birth). Studies also show that 82% of transgender individuals have considered suicide, with 40% making an attempt. The rates are highest among transgender youth.
Despite those statistics highlighting their vulnerability, lawmakers across the United States are seeking, with increasing regularity, to restrict transgender individual’s access to healthcare, their participation in sports and other activities and even have introduced legislation concerning what bathrooms they can use.
Fortunately, there are resources available to help trans youth – some of which are right here in Toledo.
Key Resources in Toledo
Solace Health & Wellness, a nonprofit committed to filling in the gaps for medically vulnerable populations, organizes social nights and monthly support group meetings for transgender teens at their office at 137 N Michigan St in downtown Toledo. Group size is restricted and pre-registration is required to ensure the safety of the participants. There is also a support group for parents of transgender teens. For more information, email email@example.com or visit solacehealth.org.
Toledo Area Transgender Support (TATS) is a peer-led support group which was established in 2010. Though not limited to teenagers, those 14 and older are welcome to participate. Frequent discussion topics include when and how to come out, how to get your name changed, how to update the gender marker on your birth certificate, how to navigate transitioning in the workplace, where to find clothes and shoes that fit and which area doctors are welcoming. The group meets on the fourth Sunday of each month from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 440 Floyd Street, Unit C in Toledo. For more information, call Aran at 419-619-6810 or visit facebook.com/toledoareatranssupport.
Safety Net, a shelter operated by the Zepf Center that is exclusive to runaway youth, is friendly and welcoming to transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. Located at 2005 Ashland Ave., the shelter is open to those who are under 18 and have left home without permission from their parents. For more information, call 419-206-0926 or visit zepfcenter.org/safety-net/.
Planned Parenthood, a medical center at 1301 Jefferson Ave. in downtown Toledo, offers gender-affirming care based on informed consent to those who are at least 18 years of age. Gender-affirming care includes hormone therapy, care coordination, birth control, STI testing & treatment, HIV testing, cancer screenings and primary care. For more information, call 419-255-1115.
Equality Toledo, a nonprofit LGBTQ advocacy organization affiliated with Equality Ohio, is a valuable hub for learning about other resources and organizations. They also keep a calendar of one-off events of value to the transgender community, such as clothing swaps and name change clinics. For more information, visit equalitytoledo.org or facebook.com/equalitytoledo.
How can you support trans youth?
Presently, two bills are working their way through the Ohio General Assembly that will almost certainly make life harder for trans youth. House Bill 8, the “Parents Bill of Rights,” features provisions that would require schoolteachers to “out” students to their parents; while House Bill 68, the “Saving Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) Act,” would ban gender-affirming care of any kind in Ohio and prohibit trans athletes from participating in women’s sports. As of this writing, both bills have passed the Ohio House of Representatives and are set for consideration by the Ohio Senate.
The rhetoric used by the politicians sponsoring these bills – that allowing children to see or engage in gender-nonconforming culture is child abuse – has been parroted by far-right vigilante groups. Last December, several members of the Proud Boy and Patriot Front groups came armed with rifles to a Unitarian church in Columbus to stop an event where drag queens read storybooks to children.
“It’s getting pretty terrifying,” Quinn Albright, a 21-year-old trans woman from Toledo currently living in Columbus, said. “Before the attacks on trans healthcare started, things in Ohio were already hard. [Transgender] people would go missing and not be found (and those disappearances would not) even really (be) investigated. Last July, the clinic where I get all my healthcare was shut down for a week and a half by bomb threats. Since then, there have been armed guards on the premises.”
Often, the best resource that individuals identifying as transgender have is a community that cares about and advocates for them. That means all of us, who can make sure that the spaces you occupy are safe for trans folks. To advocate for trans identifying individuals, consider speaking out and educating others in your home, school, house of worship and workplace; write letters to your local news outlets or elected officials; or sign up to volunteer with advocacy organizations like Equality Toledo.