Meeting the Needs of Our Transgender Youth

By Sara Croymans, Extension Educator, Family Resiliency

May 2017

The Extension Regional Office - Morris hosted the Extension Center for Family Development’s Children, Youth & Family Consortium’s (CYFC) Lessons from the Field  workshop "Meeting the Needs of Our Transgender Youth"  on April 25.  

Workshop attendees

Throughout the workshop, participants processed the information and discussed application for their communities.

Fifty three individuals attended this regional workshop which was one of seven held January through mid-May across the state. The interactional workshops, designed for parents, educators, and professionals who work with families and youth, covered current research and prevailing perspectives that promote well-being among all youth. Approximately 400 individuals have participated at the first six events (Andover, Bemidji, Minneapolis, St. Cloud, and Grand Rapids) with nearly 90 registered for the final event in Rochester on May 15. 

Dr. Jenifer McGuire, CYFC Scholar in Residence and UMN Department of Family Social Science Associate Professor, shared current vocabulary and gender language, including how terms show up in everyday interactions. She discussed what it means when we talk about terms like gender, gender identity, gender roles, gender expression, cisgender, transgender and gender nonconforming. Dr.  McGuire also covered the social realities of growing up transgender, the benefits of having larger social systems that care for all people (including transgender youth), and her research on transgender issues.

Mina Blyly-Strauss, Graduate Research Assistant, introduced the limitations of binary labels, mental health of transgender youth, and a public health approach to mental health on a population level with applications to the smaller subset of the transgender population. A video, featuring Cari  Michaels, CYFC Educator, on promoting children’s mental health, “Mental Heatlh: Yours, Mine and Ours”, is available for viewing on the UMN Extension website. (Click link to view video.)

Nathan Hesse

Nathan Hesse, SNAP-ED Educator and Dr. Jenifer McGuir

Nathan Hesse, UMN Extension Regional Educator, SNAP-Ed, continued the conversation by highlighting research on body image, nutritional challenges for those on the margins and nutritional concerns that are more common in transgender youth populations.

To learn about terminology and statistics related to transgender youth, their experiences, strengths and struggles, and ways to support them in our families, schools, healthcare settings and communities check out the CYFC Children’s Mental Health eReview: Mental Health of Transgender Youth: The Role of Family, School, and Community in Promoting Resilience (PDF).  This eReview summarizes children's mental health research and implications for practice and policy.

An additional resource with lots of great information is the Transgender Toolkit.

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