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3 Ways You Can Foster Resilience in Trans Youth

3 Ways You Can Foster Resilience in Trans Youth

By The ETR Team | June 26, 2023

Over 500 anti-LGBTQ bills have already been introduced in the US this year, many of which distinctly attack transgender (trans) and gender-expansive youth. According to The Trevor Project, nearly 1 in 3 LGBTQ young people reported that their mental health was poor most of the time or always due to anti-LGBTQ policies and legislation. 

At a time when violent anti-trans rhetoric is extremely prevalent, helping youth foster resilience can dramatically change their health outcomes both now and later in their lives. We also understand that providing effective support can feel overwhelming or unclear to allies and accomplices.  

We’re thrilled to share a few science-based tips that you can use with the trans youth you serve from the Queer and Transgender Resilience Workbook by Anneliese Singh, PhD, LPC, which is now available in the ETR Store. While the workbook is full of engaging exercises and psychoeducation tips for queer and trans youth, here are three powerful strategies you can use today in your community: 

Provide Education on the Impact of Minority Stress 

Dr. Singh especially emphasizes the importance of educating about minority stress and the real impact of negative oppressive messages. First, you can explain minority stress and the differences between intrapersonal, interpersonal, and institutional stressors. Then, you can collaborate to create a safety plan for the different ways they may want to move forward during negative events (e.g. responding to the microaggression, processing with a friend, engaging in activism, using positive self-talk, expressive art). 

Remember to approach minority stress from an intersectional perspective: the youth you work with may also be experiencing stress from racism, ableism, classism, and other systems of oppression – and the intersections of these forces. Be prepared to meaningfully discuss all aspects of their identities and experiences! Photo of three LGBTQ teens smiling and hugging while wrapped in a pride flag

Support the Process of Developing Self-Worth 

Helping young trans folx enhance their sense of inherent worth and value is critical to their resilience in the face of anti-trans rhetoric and attacks. 

Dr. Singh recommends a variety of activities that can combat these negative messages and instill greater self-esteem, even within intense sociocultural contexts. For example, you can work together to develop personal “feel-good” mantras, practice assertiveness skills and role play, and explore what’s within the young person’s comfort, growth, and danger zones. The workbook provides journal prompts and reflection activities to support these processes! 

Assist in Finding and Building Community 

Relationships play a crucial role in fostering resilience and well-being for trans and gender-expansive youth. You can use activities from Dr. Singh like “conducting a relationship inventory” and exploring the influence of cultural messages they have received about “healthy” relationships as a starting place. 

Then, you can continue building boundary skills and explore the various and diverse types of LGBTQ community spaces by mapping LGBTQ resources available to them, both in-person and online. 

Additional Tools and Resources Image of the cover of the Queer and Transgender Resilience Workbook

We recommend exploring the full version of the Queer and Transgender Resilience Workbook for more in-depth tips, exercises, and reflections you can directly use with the youth you serve. We also think you might be interested in the following related resources from ETR: 

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