Recent hate speech and anti-trans legislative efforts in Canada and the United States are “alarming and are causing great harm,” says the B.C. representative for children and youth.
In her latest report, “The Right to Thrive: An Urgent Call to Recognize, Respect and Nurture Two Spirit, Trans, Non-Binary and other Gender Diverse Children and Youth,” Jennifer Charlesworth is calling on the provincial government and respective ministries to work together to make this a priority.
Released Thursday (June 22), the report includes eight recommendations, including urging the attorney general to enhance legislation and regulatory protections for gender-diverse children to address disinformation and discrimination.
Charlesworth said the negative impacts of recent hate speech and anti-trans legislative efforts on children and youth are “enormous, and they are paying the price in increased critical injuries and suicidality.” Suicidality is the risk of suicide, usually by ideation or intent.
Interviewed for the report, one person says that people think being trans is a mental problem, when, on the contrary, their identity is “what rescued me and saved me.”
The Office of the Representative for Children and Youth received a review of critical injury and death reports for two-spirit, non-binary, trans and gender-diverse youth that raised serious concerns about the experiences and outcomes for youth, “who are doing consistently less well on many measures than their cisgender peers,” notes a release.
It adds that 44 per cent of gender-diverse youth receiving government services report injuries associated with suicidality and self-harm, compared to 14 per cent of cis-male and 22 per cent of cis-female counterparts.
Charlesworth added that while it’s a “deeply troubling finding,” it’s not the child’s gender identity or expression that leads to self-harm or suicidality.
“Rather, it is the individual experiences they have and the climate in which they are growing up that are compounded by the negative effects of stigma. Far too often, young people face a lack of gender-affirming care, support, and awareness from health care providers and society.
“When this happens, we are failing them, and this must change.”
Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of injuries reported to the representative were for those placed in group homes, which are government-funded settings “that may cause further harm and trauma when they fail to provide gender-affirming care.”
Other recommendations in the report include: that the Health Ministry take lead responsibility for a cross-government commitment to gender-affirming car; that the Mental Health and Addictions Ministry review mental health and substance-use needs of gender-diverse children and their families; and that the Children and Family Development Ministry ensure group homes have policies and training specific to the provision of gender-affirming care.