The Obstacles of Being a Transgendered Youth

Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #101, Spring 2003.

? Transgendered youth often face enormous hardships when they acknowledge

and express their gender identity.

? They may be thrown out of the house when their family discovers they

are transgendered, often forcing them to live on the streets.

? They typically face harassment and abuse in school to such an extent that they quit,

which makes it hard for them to get a decent-paying job (for example, a survey

of more than 250 transgendered people in Washington, D.C. found forty

percent had not finished high school and another 40 percent were unemployed).
? Even if they are able to get an education, they have difficulty finding and

keeping almost any kind of job because of discrimination, forcing many to

become sex workers.

? If they live on the streets or are a sex worker, they are at a greater risk for abusing

drugs, becoming infected with HIV, and being subjected to anti-transgender violence.

? In the last decade, an average of one person per month is known to have

been killed because of their gender identity or expression.

? Many lack access to health care, including proper counseling and medical

supervision for those who are in the process of transitioning.

And when they do get medical treatment, they frequently face discrimination

and hostility from health-care workers. Consequently, some transsexuals

decide to treat themselves by buying underground hormones,

which can contain dangerous if not deadly chemicals.

? Because gender reassignment surgery can cost more than $75,000

and is not covered by most health insurance policies

(the city of San Francisco is a notable exception),

even most middle-class transsexuals cannot afford the procedures.

? The ultimate result is high rates of depression, drug and alcohol abuse,

and thoughts of suicide among transgendered people

(thirty-five percent of the respondents to the D.C. survey

reported that they had seriously considered suicide).

? Transgender people who can ?pass,? usually middle-class whites,

often seek to remain closeted, so trans youth often do not have

visible role models and mentors.