Survey of Alberta’s transgender youth finds safety, lack of support are issues
Friends are a frequent source of support. Visits to the doctor are a minefield. School bathrooms are the most nerve-racking.
Survey results published by the University of Alberta on Wednesday give outsiders a first glimpse at how many young transgender Albertans wrestle with their mental health, experience discrimination and avoid the health-care system.
“This isn’t about whose rights matter. This is about, in many cases, keeping our young people alive,“said education policy Prof. Kristopher Wells, who is faculty director with the university’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services.
Wells is one of 25 researchers involved in the Canadian Trans Youth Health Survey, which gathered information online from nearly 1,000 youth and young adults between October 2013 and May 2014.
Wells released results Wednesday from the 114 respondents who live in Alberta. It shows violence and discrimination are an “everyday reality” for trans Albertans ages 14 to 25, Wells said. Although Alberta schools have improved accommodations for students who do not feel like the gender they were assigned at birth, the province’s health-care system needs work, Wells said. In an email Wednesday, Health Minister Sarah Hoffman promised the province will do better. “Being a teenager is already a difficult time of life, but this study shows trans youth face unique challenges,“Hoffman said. Alberta Health Services is working with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta to educate medical students and doctors to better serve transgender patients, Timothy Wilson, Hoffman’s press secretary, said in a statement. There will be an “update” on improved primary care for the LGBTQ community coming this winter, he said, but did not divulge details.
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