We are excited for you to get to know more about our first grant round recipients! This month, we are learning more about Gender Spectrum and how it positively impacts the LGBTQ+ community. This is one of the four nonprofits that will receive a grant from the Mama Bears Giving Circle in September 2022. We had the pleasure of speaking directly with Gender Spectrum and gaining insight about what they do. We asked if they wanted to share any additional information with our Mama Bears about the resources they provide and they delivered!
About Gender Spectrum
Gender Spectrum is a national organization committed to the health and well-being of gender-diverse children and teens through education and support for families, and training and guidance for educators, medical and mental health providers, and other professionals. We envision a world that is affirming and inclusive of children and teens of all genders.
The core of our work is facilitating social groups for parents, guardians, grandparents, and other family members and caregivers, providing them a space to explore their own feelings, and to find a community that can support them as they navigate their child’s journey. We run similar spaces for youth, where they can feel seen and validated for who they are. And our Annual Conference, first held in 2007, is one of the oldest conferences for and about transgender youth and their families in the United States.
Our framework for understanding gender, which we call the Dimensions of Gender, has become standard in the field. We hold over 200 trainings each year, for more than 20,000 teachers, medical and mental health providers, camp counselors, child welfare advocates and other professionals, whose students, patients, and clients number in the millions. But our most direct impact is on the young people and the families we work with.
Gender Spectrum provides support to between 100 and 150 new families every month. Families come to us with the news their child has often just shared with them. Some families are equanimous in the face of the gender journey their child is about to take and which they will share with them. Some, however, are wrestling with grief and anger for the child they feel they are losing, for the cherished grandparent’s name their child wants to change, for the family photos their child wants them to take off the walls.
There are also the enormous decisions the young people and their families face. Do they tell extended families? Do they tell friends and neighbors? Do they tell school? What support do they need to live as their authentic selves? None of this is easy, and we approach our work with compassion for all involved.
We start with the assumption that adults want the gender-diverse children in their lives to thrive, and we commit to meeting those adults where they are in their own understandings of gender, gently guiding them on paths toward greater understanding. We recognize that time, mistakes, and missteps are part of growth and feel that as long as everyone at the table believes in the humanity of everyone else, then generosity and kindness are key to our vision.
This is why we have been so saddened by the spate of legislation at the state level across the country targeting gender-affirming care. Medical care is a matter of providing what is deemed necessary on a case-by-case basis in consultation with medical professionals. The decisions are never easy, as opponents so glibly seem to assume.
At Gender Spectrum, our decades of professional experience clearly show, and an extensive body of research confirms, that affirming transgender and nonbinary children in their gender is the approach that leads to long term health and wellbeing. Affirmation of transgender people in who they are is a matter of dignity. It is a matter of humanity. It should not be a matter of political posturing. We know that families, providers and teachers supporting gender diverse children are doing so because they love their children and want to see them thrive. And Gender Spectrum is there to support them.