Past Present Future: TransYouth Speak

TransYouth Speak Today and Tomorrow

TransYouth Speak AKA "TYS" is an innovative social support project that helps transgender and gender-queer youth build media and advocacy skills to better connect with allies and inspire social change. Through art and activism, the members of TransYouth Speak inform the public about the challenges they face and propose positive avenues for action and advocacy.  Youth participants are supported in developing personally and professionally through involvement at all levels of the program.

TYS' Peer Support Group meets weekly. Members work on various kinds of projects that bring visibility to gender-identity issues and show trans and gender-queer youth in a positive light. The group has created videos, publishes a 'zine, provides trainings to professionals, and gives workshops at youth conferences.

Background: History and Our Accomplishments

TYS was Survivors' Truths' first LA-based project and has developed organically since 2010. TransYouth Speak continues its evolution through the strengthening of existing partnerships and its growing outreach to other organizations and allies.

In 2010, Survivors' Truths partnered with Children's Hospital Los Angeles' (CHLA) Division of Adolescent Medicine's Risk Reduction Program to explore how our work could expand the engagement and activism of the youth they were serving. We also began contributing to the Transgender Service Provider Network as an ally member.

By early 2011, Survivors' Truths was working with CHLA's drop-in support group. Our work focused on developing youth staff facilitation, organizing group members' skills, and holding monthly media workshops.

In 2012, Survivors' Truths launched TransYouth Speak's Youth Leadership Development Group.

Survivors' Truths is proud of how much TransYouth Speak has accomplished and the forward-moving engagement and empowerment of our youth group. One example is the video Being Trans* Makes Me Awesome which was conceived, developed, shot, and edited by youth members of the group, sharing their own experiences in a very positive way.

In developing a vision for the future, the TYS Youth Leadership Group designed the TransYouth Speak logo and defined the project's mission. Since then, they have established an independent social media presence through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Tumblr.

TransYouth Speak has also participated in a large variety of outreach and engagement activities:

  • November 2012 - CHLA's youth staff supported in presenting on using media to work with youth at Transgender Law Center's Transgender Leadership Summit.
  • January 2013 - The TYS Youth Leadership Group facilitated a workshop and produced a short video at GLSEN Los Angeles’ youth conference.
  • June 2013 - The TYS Youth Leadership Group tabled and networked at Dyke Day LA.
  • June 2013 - The TYS Youth Leadership Group joined the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council's Transgender Task Group to support planned advocacy with local schools and ensure youth representation in the community action and policy recommendations of that group.
  • June 2013 - Members of the TYS Youth Leadership Group attended The Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists' panel on "Media Coverage of the Transgender Community", where they networked and strategized for the inclusion of youth in transgender community activism.
  • 2014 - Began holding meetings at LifeWorks, the youth services section of the LA LGBT Center, fostering increased trust in the Center within the trans-youth community, and making the many services offered by the Center more accessible to the young people we have worked with. 
  • June 2014 - TYS hosted the first ever "TransStation" at West Hollywood Pride.
  • October 2014 - TYS group members presented on using Social Media for Activism at Models of Pride
  • February 2015 - Members of the TYS Youth Leadership Group attended and presented at Creating Change 2015 - the largest LGBT Conference in the US. 
  • October 2015 - TYS group members presented at Models of Pride
  • April 2016 - TYS group members presented a panel discussion to therapists at the Los Angeles PoMo Conversation.

Survivors’ Truths' overall vision is to connect with and bring visibility to great social justice work. Coming up, TransYouth Speak is planning to launch a social advocacy campaign and we are working to raise funds to allow us to hire youth who have completed an internship to staff positions within our organization. We are also planning to increase and enhance our web presence so that TransYouth Speak can function as a decentralized hub for affirmative media by, about, and for transgender youth everywhere.