Chal­lenges high­lighted

Sur­vey of Al­berta’s trans­gen­der youth finds safety, lack of sup­port are is­sues

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - JaNEt FrENch

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.

Sarah hoFF­maN Prov­ince will do bet­ter

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