Windsor's trans drop-in centre helping to drop suicide rates
'What we know is when they're put in an inclusive environment ... the numbers drop'
W.E. Trans Support has its grand opening on May 25, 2018. The centre has been running since April 30, 2018 and is a place transgender people can find the support networks they need without any barriers. The centre also has a clothing bank and food bank for the trans community, as well as programming and events.
The support centre means a lot for trans youth.
Chad Craig, the administrative director for Five/Fourteen foster care has been working with W.E. Trans to provide more support to youth in care. Five/Fourteen is a foster care agency in Windsor helping LGBTQ kids find safe, supportive families
He said the average lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are about four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth. Trans youth are seven times more likely.
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"We know based on research that peer support can bring down those numbers in suicidal attempts and we know that youth who are in unsupportive homes, when we move them into supportive homes their likelihood of attempting suicide drops by 90 percent," Craig said.
He and his team thought that number was a typo, but had the number verified. Five/Fourteen reaches across the province. Before the agency there wasn't a dedicated LGBT youth service. With the addition of W.E. Trans they are expanding their support systems from Windsor to London.
"There's no other agency like W.E. Trans Support," said Craig. "Bringing them that access to peer support, helping youth connect with their community is enormously beneficial."
Five/Fourteen worked with a young person who came to Windsor from outside the city. He was in his first week of care with them and they brought him to a fundraiser for W.E. Trans Support.
"When we left that night he told his foster mom that it was the first time he felt like he belonged somewhere," Craig said. "So we can tell you first hand that W.E. Trans Support is making a difference in the lives of youth."
It costs about $40 a day to support a trans-identified person with the W.E. Trans centre open, said Jayce Carver, the executive director of W.E. Trans Support. That cost covers rent and utilities.
"I don't think $40 is too much to bring people out of isolation and bring the suicide numbers down, because the suicide numbers are so high," she said.
Carver also heard the 90 per cent drop in suicide rate and thought that must have been wrong.
"What we know is when they're put in an inclusive environment that is inclusive that has other people like them around them, the numbers drop," she said.
Getting by with a little help from friends
The LGBTQ community in Windsor comprises of several organizations, including Windsor Pride community centre, Windsor-Essex Pride Fest, Five/Fourteen foster care and W.E. Trans Support. They often work together to make sure the community feels like one.
"There's many organizations all doing different things and they're some that cross over, but you know what we work together to really improve the community and improve it for everybody," said David Lenz, the president of Windsor-Essex Pride Fest.
The Windsor Pride Fest has a three year Trillium grant that they're able to partner with W.E. Trans to ensure the programming fits demands. Programs include T2, group is for friends, families and allies of transgender individuals, Trans Spectrum, a peer support group run by trans-identified people for trans-identified people and T-Party, a social group that meets once a month to create a level of comfort for trans people to be in the community in a group setting.
"It just shows that we are making a huge difference in this community and there is great support of many members of the community working together to provide all services for everybody."