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IMPORTANT: This is part of a post for UNIB30004 at the University of Melbourne
But what can help lead to positive life consequences for a trans person? Positive reinforcement in the forms of validation and support and visibility. Validation and support are two things that go hand in hand to shape a positive experience for the trans individual. It has been shown that trans* individuals having a strong support system are much more likely to have a higher level of overall success. On an individual level, the more support and gender validation is felt, the more confident the individual “Knowing from the get go that I had my friends support, no matter what.” says Beck, when referring to what could have made their gender-journey better. As a stranger, invalidating how someone feels can break down large the work done by the individual to gain confidence. Individuals reported feelings of negativity when they felt they couldn’t pass. By not assuming anything, you can really help make people more comfortable without even knowing.
Visibility can be a powerful tool in providing the needed support for trans* youth who have no other source. Montana says “Representation of people like me: trans folks and nonbinary genders. It would have given me an example of a gender that is a valid option for me to identify with. I think the reason why I didn’t identify as trans/nonbinary is because I was fixed on binary notions of gender and performance, and thought that cis was my only option.” this illustrates the lack of visibility in both the education and media scheme. Without the role models of non-binary genders, it leaves people (especially youths) to have no feeling of normalcy. In recent years, the number of openly trans* folk in the media has increased, but slowly. In making opportunities in the media and public eye careers available to trans* folk, those crucial role models will be available to people who need them.
Education to bring visibility to the trans* community is also important to provide a support system of allies. Programs such as Stop. Think. Respect campaign help to educate the public on understanding and reducing stigma as well as bringing forward the voice of the trans* community. This again, links back into making a positive step towards decreasing discrimination and increasing possible connections for those in need. Providing a truly openly trans-friendly visible environment can make individuals feel much safer in disclosing important information, like at a doctor’s office.
References: : https://www.gsafewi.org/wp-content/uploads/WEBSchoolExperiencesofTransgenderandGenderNonconformingStudentsinWisconsin2015.pdf