My name is Marcy Hillier and I’m a trans woman. But when I came out and transitioned to be more of a woman, I faced many challenges. These included discrimination from family members, depression, challenges with accessing healthcare, including mental health care, and being referred to as “he” despite legally identifying as female.
Chronic stress, bullying, and lack of physical security were also common challenges for trans youth.
It’s the work of countless allies, people who have provided significant support, and individuals like Angela DeJesus-Moore that helped me gain my life back. DeJesus-Moore is the founder of One Trans Teen, a project committed to providing young trans youth with supportive spaces and the resources they need to realize their full potential.
As more and more young people identify as trans, why are these issues still a concern for them?
For me, it’s because it’s not a one-size-fits-all issue. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at the age of 18 or 18-years-old: There are real challenges to pursuing medical care as a trans person.
My first experience with mental health was at the age of 12. This was after I had transitioned. I had started practicing yoga, which turned into identifying as female. While I was very vocal about my transition, I felt completely left out when it came to seeking mental health care.
Today, it’s common to hear trans teens struggle with identity, feeling isolated and alone, and receiving negative reactions from friends and family. In some cases, being outed by their parents, school, and/or peers can result in rejection. Some trans youth feel there is no room for them in the spaces that are supposed to support their identities.
Stigma is the core of the problem. Many trans youth and young adults fear that they won’t be able to access healthcare due to stigma. For example, 27 percent of people with a history of suicide attempt are transgender, according to a study by the National LGBTQ Task Force.
Racism and discrimination
Of the 783 respondents in the study, 67 percent of African-American people said their transgender identity was often discounted by doctors when seeking healthcare and 56 percent of people reported being discriminated against by healthcare providers because of their transgender identity.
When faced with prejudice and isolation, we have witnessed bullying and risk factors of suicide. Yet the crisis of social stigmas also manifests in diseases.
For instance, being outed by a parent can lead to anxiety or depression, which in turn can cause suicidal thoughts. Young adults who have been trans for a significant amount of time and have faced discrimination while trying to enter healthcare are more likely to develop eating disorders, alcohol and drug addiction, suicidal ideation, and risk factors for premature death.
Trans youth face serious health challenges and need additional resources to advocate and access health care. Health care must be inclusive for all.
To that end, One Trans Teen provides support services for LGBTQ youth and promotes a positive vision for mental health by providing young people with a safe space to express themselves and develop their identities. My advocacy, community involvement, and encouragement, on top of information and resources provided by One Trans Teen, have helped give me the strength and perspective to transition to living fully as a woman.
One Trans Teen believes that the empowerment of LGBTQ people can break the stigma and lead to increased access to health care for all. We provide counseling and hope, giving transgender teens a chance to get the support and help they need to reach their full potential.
Marcy Hillier is the executive director and founder of One Trans Teen, an organization committed to providing LGBTQ youth with a safe space to share their true selves and destigmatize mental health issues. As an advocate and mental health advocate, she has helped hundreds of youth as they come out, transition, and thrive.
Marcy Hillier is an advocate, cultural-inclusion developer, member of the private investment community, senior vice president of Schwab Unum®, and former producer of a series of workshops to mobilize young people. She is also the creator of the new documentary #ConfidenceLed: The Last Manifesto: The Trans Indivisible Mission.