New transgender support group in Bathurst holds 1st meeting
Trans-Action aims to offer support to parents and transgender youth in northern New Brunswick
A new support group for transgender youth and parents in northeastern New Brunswick hopes to give young people and their parents a safe place to express themselves.
The group's first meeting is tonight.
We are seeing more and more transgender youth in our schools.- Michelle Basque
Michelle Basque, a guidance counsellor, Eve Arseneau, a psychologist, and Gaetan Mallet, a social worker and sexologist, are all part of child and youth teams in Bathurst. They will facilitate the monthly meetings of the group which is called, Trans-Action.
"We are seeing more and more transgender youth in our schools," Basque told Information Morning Moncton.
"We want to help families get closer and help the parents understand a little bit more what the kids are going through so that's what we're hoping."
Basque said the meetings will be held the first Tuesday of each month with parents and young people spending some time together and some time in separate groups.
"I was a teacher for six or seven years before I was a guidance counsellor and kids are usually finding some support in their schools … but parents don't have as many interactions with people and we thought they probably felt alone in what they were living."
Family support critical
Basque said parents who are supported are in turn better able to understand and offer support to their transgender child. She said that parental support is critical for young people who are struggling.
"It can be a protective factor against so many things that a youth can go through. They are more at risk of things like depression and anxiety and suicidal thoughts, and having a parent who is supportive can be protection against all of that."
The more we talk about it, the more people are aware, and the more people understand that everyone deserves to express themselves the way they want.- Michelle Basque
Basque said she hasn't heard of transgender youth in Bathurst being bullied, however she hopes that the new support group will foster better understanding in the larger community.
"The more we talk about it, the more people are aware and the more people understand that everyone deserves to express themselves the way they want," Basque said.
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So far 16 people have registered for the first meeting of Trans-Action from as far away as Caraquet. Basque hopes that as the group grows and evolves it will add public events such as a community walk or barbecue.
"Some people just don't understand and what I see coming out of this is building some links between people and connections and hopefully build some confidence to go out there and be themselves and maybe do some public events."
The first meeting is Tuesday from 6:15 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the child and youth team offices at École secondaire Népisiguit at 915 rue St-Anne.
Basque said guest speakers will be invited to future meetings, including an endocrinologist and a transgender adult who will share their experience.