We are glad to partner with The Youth Project for our Community Cups in November! The coffee roast dedicated to support #nsyouthproject is "You Contain Multitudes"
Tell us about The Youth Project!
The Youth Project’s mission is to make Nova Scotia a safer, healthier, and happier place for 2SLGBTQIA+ (Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/ Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, +) youth through support, education, resource development, and community building. The Youth Project has been proudly providing resources to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community for 29 years, since 1993.
What does The Youth Project provide to their community?
The Youth Project is a multiservice organization hosting an education team, programming team, and support services team with an aim to further the inclusion and wellness of 2SLGBTQIA+ under the age of 25, foster knowledge exchange/training, increase access to public health services for Two Spirit, trans and non-binary youth, and provide social and cultural programs, services, celebrations for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth provincially.
Our education team works to organize 2SLGBTQIA+ workshops in schools and workplaces across the province, develop curriculum and resources pertaining to 2SLGBTQIA+ equity and inclusion, consult with various provincial organizations to implement inclusion policies, and prepare and facilitate anti-oppression workshops specifically relating to gender identity and sexual orientation.
Our programming team offers 2SLGBTQIA+ core programming through a digital/in-person hybrid model to reach more youth provincially. Our programs act as supportive spaces for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth to meet peers, strengthen relationships, ask questions, and have access to information about gender, sexuality, healthy relationships, and other local supportive systems/spaces.
Our support team travels throughout the province as well as offers digital support to provide resources, referrals, and supportive counseling to youth and families based on gender identity, sexuality, and navigation of medical and/or legal systems.
Is there anything that you wish more people knew about The Youth Project?
We have a new completely subsidized therapeutic counseling program that supports 2SLGBTQIA+ youth have access to a supportive mental health intervention offered by a member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. These free sessions are for anyone who is 25 and under and a part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, but we prioritize youth who need to receive a letter of readiness to support their journey accessing gender affirming care provincially.
How do you define gender identity? How many gender identities are there?
At the Youth Project we say that “gender is a galaxy with infinite plot points and possibilities” – to us this means that gender is expansive and creative! We believe that everyone should have space to explore their identity and feel comfortable, safe, and free to express themselves in the ways that they would like to.
Everyone has a gender identity, our gender identity is our individual experience of gender, related to our sense of self.
Unlike gender expression, gender identity is not outwardly visible to others. Coming out is not a necessary factor in having a valid gender identity, some people may feel very comfortable and excited to discuss their gender identity and others prefer to keep it private, both are valid, both are wonderful.
Our gender expression is a little bit different, it is how we express our gender identity outwardly - some examples of this could be our name/pronouns, clothing, hair, makeup, how we choose to communicate – all of these elements and more are a part of our gender expression.
How does gender identity relate to a person’s sexual orientation?
A person’s sexual orientation (rooted in attraction) is different from their gender identity (their sense of self). There is a misconception that anyone who is non-binary or trans also identifies as a member of the queer community and that is not always true. While these are separate elements of someone's identity, sometimes they can influence each other and/or shift as we learn more about ourselves, our genders, and our orientation.
What are the issues the youth are facing when it comes to gender identity?
There are a lot of issues provincially and nationally that young Two-Spirit, trans, and non-binary youth face. Generally we see a lot of barriers in relation to gender affirming and trans competent care - there are long wait times for care and we see trans healthcare being siloed as a specialist issue instead of general care provision and we believe this to be stigmatizing, isolating, and a huge contributor to longer waiting times and less active support.
We also see a critical need for culturally relevant, trauma-informed, gender affirming mental health support that is accessible and safer for youth to access. There is a lack of trans competent mental health support and this is increasingly dangerous and difficult for our community.
We also see the ways in which the current housing crisis and discriminatory hiring practices directly impacts and further marginalizes trans youth as their access to stable and safer housing, employment, and food security is further compromised.
It is also so important that youth who are exploring their gender identity have access to supportive adults who hold similar/parallel identities. This is important so youth have access to representative support as well as the space to imagine what their lives could look like in the future. We understand representation and representative supports as active harm reduction and a fundamental element of social development for queer and trans youth.
There are so many terms gender identity and sexual orientation, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender and ally youth, LGBTQ, 2STGNC, etc. How should the youth address and express themselves in public and feel safe?
There are so many brilliant and beautiful identities, at the YP we use the acronym 2SLGBTQIA+ (Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/ Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, +) with the plus referring to all of the other identites that are not captured in that version of the acronym. The most important thing to do when meeting someone new or when someone you know is learning more about their identity is to use the words that they use and mirror their language. Everyone has a different relationship to the acronym and different definitions of these big words that can mean so many different things. Mirroring language means that we are not assuming and that we are respectfully following the lead of the folks in the community.
Learn more about The Youth Project Nova Scotia by visiting https://youthproject.ns.ca/
Join us to support The Youth Project!
$1 from every bag of You Contain Multitudes sold will be donated to The Youth Project Nova Scotia, along with all drip coffee sales on Community Cups days on November 5th and 20th, 2022.