Two new support groups in the Tri-Cities aim to help transgender youth and their families on everything from feelings of grief to questions about doctor visits.

The Plea Community Services will run separate support groups: one for trans youth, and another for their parents and caregivers. Registration opened about two weeks ago and 20 people have already signed up for the parent support group, said Jodi Mason, program manager of the Plea Community Services Society of B.C.

"Parents are going through their own issues and they need to explore their feelings of confusion and grief and loss separate from their children," said Jodi Mason,

"We don't want them to have to burden their children."

Emotional and logistical support

Support groups will offer both emotional and practical support.

"It can be incredibly comforting and validating just to have our stories heard and to know, despite how we're feeling, that there are others going through similar things."

Facilitators will also be there to answer any questions parents may have about their child's transition.

"They'll also provide information and resources and practical advice on how to handle some fo the logistics of what it takes to transition successfully," said Mason.

"The steps that need to be taken, the doctors that need to be seen, the way to go about getting new driver licenses, new social insurance number, navigating the school system."

Transgender Protest 20150218

Students occupied several washrooms at simon Fraser University in February to protest the lack of gender-inclusive washrooms. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

While schools in B.C. have made accommodations for transgender youth in recent years, transgender issues are still a difficult topic to discuss for many.

"It's a hard, hard thing. It's a new topic. It hasn't been heavily explored. We just knew we had to address it," said Mason.

People can sign up for a spot in the support groups by emailing transsupport@plea.bc.ca.

The support groups are held every first and third Wednesday of the month.


To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: New trans support in the Tri-Cities.