Trans people are recognising who they are and vocalising this much earlier in life.
I could wax on about how the youths these days don't know how good they have it when coming out and getting support, but the truth is a lot of young people on the trans spectrum are still not fully accepted by family and friends. While I'd never wish being trans on anyone, I'd still rather be a youth coming out now, than a youth (or otherwise) starting their transition 40, 20 or even 5 years ago. In the not so distant past, we would meet in waiting rooms of GICs or at depressing but necessary Trans Day of Remembrance events. Nowadays, there are also more positive reasons to unite, (particularly if you're a young 'un) like the Gendered Intelligence Summer CampMermaids Residentials or at Trans Pride Brighton , all of which are attended by enthusiastic and emotionally intelligent gender variant youths.
Last year was the first ever annual conference for the National Trans Youth Network, where a mass of young people ranging from as young as 7, up to 25 years in age, gathered to do workshops and to give an NHS panel a proper grilling.
Amelia Lee, one of the organisers, tell us "The point of it is bringing young people together so they can make friends, debate issues that are important to them, and campaign together for change.
A few weeks ago, people flocked to Birmingham for National Trans Youth Conference a full day of workshops ranging from zine-making to perspectives as a non-binary person or intersex person. The theme of the day was education. It was attended by 150 people of which 107 were young people and 43 were adults such as youth workers supporting groups to attend and workshop leaders.
I felt a knot in my chest during the first conference last year and again this year. There's nothing quite like seeing 100+ trans youth gathered together, being given an opportunity to connect and thrive, in a way my younger self never had. It was emotional, in a good way. When I was their age (well not 7, but more like 10 onwards), I felt so disconnected I set about abusing myself in as many ways I could conjure.
These days so much has shifted, with many more resources available, options possible. Still, being trans is HARD. There were 19 reported suicides by youths (#RestInPower) in the past 12 months, reminding us all that being trans is a hard path regardless of age, especially if you have no support and lose hope. And it's also important to throw in the shocking statistic that 48% of young trans people have attempted self harm / suicide.
Megan Key, a trans advocate and activist, like myself, felt similarly moved in the presence of this new generation. "It was my first year volunteering at the conference. To say I was in awe would be an understatement. Young people of all identities feeling confident to express views, challenge policy makers and share their personal experiences with humour, sincerity and passion. It was clear to me, young people know who they are and what they want, and i believe that sooner or later, they'll get it. After all, they are the future leaders. Absolutely inspiring."
Both years the My Genderation 1.5 hour film making workshop has been extremely well attended, resulting in last year's film and this year's offering:
We worked alongside All About Trans to deliver the two workshops. The first one was a look into the mainstream media, trans representation, and how to be involved while protecting yourself. how we can be involved. The second workshop, after a delightful buffet lunch (although nothing on the gourmet beauty that was at National Youth Conference Wales, the weekend before), was more 'hands on'. We wasted very little time, after discussing the media and film techniques, by dividing our group into 'on camera' and production crew (2nd camera, audio, location scouting). Once again, I was impressed with everyone's contributions and willingness to work together to create a film in a relatively short space of time.
So what does 2016 hold for trans awareness? Further advances in film, tv and the media in general, with many trans roles going to trans people. I've also got a non-binary feature 'up my sleeve' which I'm currently creating a taster tape for. Now really is the time to stand up and be counted, in whatever capacity you're comfortable with. I hope that with each generation the coming out process gets easier and easier as the world further understands the reality of what it means to be trans.