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Three students invited a transgender advocacy and education group to speak at Linfield on Nov. 29 as part of a project for their Health Education Methods class.
Seniors Cora Hall and Mckenna Pyeatt were at a health education conference where the non-profit organization Transactive was presenting. They saw the importance of awareness of transgender youth in the health field.
“We really liked what they shared at the conference, especially since most of us are going to be health educators,” Hall said. “We’re going to see these kids, and they’re problems we’re going to have to solve now. It’s important to be equipped to deal with those.”
With the help of Fusion, Hall, Pyeatt and junior Julie Schoettler hosted the Transactive presentation. Transactive volunteers Griffin Lacy and Lissy Richards spoke about the importance of educating the public and advocating for transgender youth.
“We’re excited to be at Linfield because this is a population we don’t always reach,” Lacy said. “Transgender people are a population I think are underserved.”
Transactive is a Portland-based organization that provides services, education, advocacy and research for transgender youth and their families. It is the leading national organization, and the only Oregon organization, that focuses on the youth.
“There aren’t enough agencies doing this work,” Richards said.
Hall was struck by the importance of the subject, especially with regard to bullying and children.
“I haven’t been exposed to trans issues before. It’s never been addressed in any of my student teaching, or when I was in school,” Hall said. “This is the first time that opened my eyes to what is really happening, to how big and broad it really is.
“We hoped for a better turnout, but we wanted to get the word across campus that bullying is out of control, especially with youth,” Hall said. “We wanted people to be aware of the trans community and the fact that they’re people too. It shouldn’t be a big deal. Everyone should be able to be themselves.”
The volunteers from Transactive showed videos of success stories from transgender youth, but explained that this is not always the case for most transgender youth. They said 35 to 73 percent of youth report often being verbally abused by parents.
“Some parents allow trans children to express themselves at home, but not in public. Their identity has to be a secret,” Richards said.
“I thought it was a great presentation. That made me more bummed that there weren’t more people there to hear it,” Hall said. “I think it’s still a scary topic for a lot of people, just being uncomfortable and not really understanding.”
Hall praised Lacy and Richards for their passion and ability to get the message across.
“I love Transactive,” she said. “I think what they’re doing is fantastic. Sometimes I get really discouraged because I don’t feel that I can make a difference. But they encouraged me that one person can make a difference.”
Kelsey Sutton can be reached at email@example.com.