APTN IDAHOT2015: The Importance of Support for Transgender Youth

Bangkok, 17 May 2015

 The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is commemorated every May 17th; an important day for the transgender community to raise awareness to the broader society in order to stop transphobia. Emotional, physical and sexual violence experienced by transgender people is the result of transphobia, causing great damage to the community and their loved ones. The number of murder case of transgender people had shown that the largest groups of murdered transgender people are on the age between 20 to 29 years old.

A report from Transgnder Europe (TGEU) shows that in the last seven years. 131 transgender and gender diverse persons under the age of 20 have been reported murdered. Where the location of death is reported, 38% were murdered on the street and 24% were murdered in their homes.[1] This alarming number of the murder of young transgender people causes great concern for the transgender communities. 

The Importance of Support for Transgender Youth

Support from families are urgent and crucially needed for transgender youth as the role of family is to act as the support system for the children. Anecdotal evidence shows that  first-hand bullying is experienced by transgender youth within their family.

Violence by family members ranged from emotional and physical to sexual violence, some also were forced to wear hair and clothes aligned with societal gender norms and often trans youths are neglected when programs are being developed to address violence against youths”, said Joe Wong.

Apart from family support, educational institution is equally important to ensure transgender youth have a safe space and support system when faced with transphobia from peers or family. Many transgender youth discontinue their education due to the stigma and discrimination experienced within the school. A five countries study conducted by IGLHRC showed that LBT youth experienced physical, verbal and sexual harassment and expulsions in school[2]. Protection for transgender and gender diverse students from transphobic bullying from peer group, teachers, senior, and other school staff can help to enable the environment for youth transgender.

Transphobia is also one of the main barriers that prevent youth transgender to access health care services. Many feel reluctant to access the services because of the judgmental attitude of the staff and negative comments and behavior of the healthcare providers. Generally speaking, transphobia can also be found in public spaces, conducted by any official officers, and taking many forms (verbal, non-verbal, and physical violence).

“Sometimes when we talk about the rights of young people - the rights to identify to any identity they are most comfortable with are usually forgotten. The adults in the children’s environment have the responsibility to ensure the safety and support the children to develop healthy self-esteem, not otherwise. Instead of busy worrying about morals of the young people who comes out as trans, ensure them to have universal values such as kindness, honesty, compassion as their core virtue. With these virtues, young people have the opportunity to appreciate themselves better, therefore allowing them to empower themselves to have supportive environment. In the end, kindness and good virtues knows no gender afterall.”, Kevin Halim.

Taken the chance of the international day to reduce transphobia, IDAHOT 2015 aims to raise awareness of the public about the importance to end homophobia and transphobia within the society with more attention for young people. Through the awareness, it is hoped that the society can start support the young people, especially young transgender people and people with diverse gender identity that eventually help them to protect them from transphobic violence.

Asia Pacific Transgender Network urgently call for the following in support of trans youth:

  • Psychosocial support for family with transgender children or youth.
  • Support systems in school that protect and respect the rights of youth transgender from transphobic bullying in school settings, including but not limited, from their peers, senior, teachers, and staffs.
  • Equal opportunities for youth transgender people in education.
  • Equal opportunities for youth transgender people in employment.
  • Increase access in health care setting.

Contact Information:

Joe Wong
Programme Manager
Email: joe.wong@weareaptn.org

 Natt Kraipet
Network Coordinator
Email: natt.kraipet@weareaptn.org

[1] http://tgeu.org/tmm-idahot-update-2015/

[2] http://iglhrc.org/sites/iglhrc.org/files/RegAnCC_0.pdf