Phone app will aid teens
TAINE Polkinghorne knows firsthand how difficult ‘‘ coming out’’ can be.
‘‘For years I had this feeling, like others in my situation, of not being quite like the other girls and boys,’’ he explains.
Through a personal exploration, the 23-year-old who was born as a girl, decided to begin identifying as a transman about two years ago.
‘‘It was an evolution of finding things out and reading lots of books and talking to other transpeople,’’ the inner-city resident says.
But teenagers struggling with their sexuality will soon have a more private way to seek help.
Rainbow Youth is poised to release a new mobile application that will allow youngsters to pose questions anonymously from the privacy of their own phone.
‘‘Basically the app allows a platform that is fun, safe and interactive for young people who are queer, trans or questioning and might need support,’’ Mr Polkinghorne says.
‘‘I was nervous and scared when I was coming out and finding out new things about myself. Having something that I could have controlled what I looked at absolutely would have helped.’’
Rainbow Youth general manager Duncan Matthews says the app utilises a tool which is increasingly common – smartphones.
‘‘The phone is just a really personal thing,’’he says.
‘‘You might only have one computer in the lounge, or at school you may not feel comfortable looking up information when you are questioning your sexuality or gender.’’
Mr Matthews says the app will include a fun educational quiz for users to fill out, providing them with information on safe sex and mental health.
People can also ask questions anonymously.
Users will receive notifications about upcoming Rainbow Youth support events and details for drop-in centres where they can seek advice.
And for those feeling bold about their new identity, there is the option of celebrating with a rainbow photo filter for their Facebook or Twitter profiles.
Rainbow Youth, New Zealand’s support organisation for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) youngsters, won the opportunity to create the app with $12,000 funding from business network organisation the Localist.
The first phase of the free app is expected to be ready for download later this year.
Rainbow Youth connects with an estimated 35,000 people through its website, via social media or on curi ous.org.nz – an initiative with the NZ Aids Foundation which promotes safe sex.
Each year Rainbow Youth receives 500 first time emails, phone calls and faceto-face chats with people seeking support for a queer or trans-sexual young adults and teens.
Connected: Taine Polkinghorne started identifying as a trans-man about two years ago and says the impending Rainbow Youth mobile app would have been helpful during his voyage of self-discovery.