In May, the Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre of UBC published a national study focusing on Canada’s transgender youth and their well-being. While the results show that transgender youth face significant physical and mental health issues, they also indicate that a supportive environment is essential. Morgane Oger, a transgender rights activist from Vancouver, believes the study is essential.
The Canadian Trans Youth Health Survey, the first of its kind, was a national online survey conducted by researchers from several Canadian universities and community organizations. The survey included 923 trans youth participants between 14 and 25. It showed the problems trans youth regularly face, such as discrimination because of their gender identity or their appearance, sexual harassment and cyberbullying.
Morgane Oger believes the study is crucial, “It’s a very good study as it shows the evidence. Now we can make a case,” she says. Oger is the chair of the Trans Alliance Society, a spokesperson for the B.C. Safer Schools Coalition, executive member of the Vancouver District Parent Advisory Council and a member of Vancouver’s LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee. Having come out as a woman only a few years ago, she is aware of the problems transgender people encounter.
Lack of acceptance
Oger, 47, believes being transgender today is similar to being gay in the 1950s when it comes to lack of acceptance. She points out that while transgender people are usually safe in Vancouver, there are many other places where that is not the case. France, her country of origin, is an example. Oger says that the biggest problem for today’s transgender youth is the lack of support from the previous generation, the generation that raised and influenced their peers. She hopes that today’s transgender youth will have a genuine chance instead of being marginalized for no reason like her own generation was.
“I don’t know a transgender doctor or lawyer. But transgender youth nowadays hopefully have a chance,” says Oger.
While there are a few communities and organizations that aim to help transgender people, they are often limited in their possibilities due to financial problems. The Trans Alliance Society and the Catherine White Holman Centre do not receive any government funding. The Trans Alliance Society, whose focus is on legal issues, regularly organizes fundraising events. Whereas the Holman Centre, which is volunteer-run, aims to provide free wellness services to transgender people. Oger notes that nowadays in Vancouver, parents of transgender youth are usually very involved in supporting their children, whereas in the past, teenagers were often abandoned.
Changes in Vancouver’s schools
In 2014, the Vancouver School Board approved a new policy for transgender students.
“The policy was implemented to make schools a safer place for all students by creating understanding and respect for sexual orientation and gender diversity,” says Sharalyn Jordan, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Education of Simon Fraser University.
“The policy maintains the principle of respecting students’ gender identities and offers more specific strategies on things like language and pronoun use and gender inclusive space,” explains Jordan. She is certain that this way, students learn about the respect for others needed to live in a plural democracy.
“The schools are currently in the process of building non-gendered spaces such as dressing rooms and washroom. They also train staff to not separate gender anymore and let students choose their pronouns,” says Oger.
Oger believes that the changes are helpful as they allow students to be more confident and study in a harmonious environment.
To read more about the study, please follow the link: