New Paths to Affirming LGBTQ Youth
One of the privileges of doing family law work in the LGBTQ community is helping families, especially children, become strong advocates for themselves and for their needs. There are so many ways families can love and nurture one another, and sometimes this means accessing legal resources to help grow the support they need and deserve.
This spring, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with a 16-year-old transgender youth who inspires me through her strength of spirit. She’s come out this year as transgender, and it has been a difficult journey. She’s lucky to be surrounded at school by teachers and fellow students who are passionate about affirming and supporting her for who she is. Unfortunately, her family is struggling to accept and support her transition. When her parents expressed discomfort at her transitioning, she reached out to GLAD to understand her rights and to figure out how to move forward medically.
After she reached out to GLAD, we brainstormed options. One of the resources GLAD provided was the Caregiver Authorization Affidavit, a legal resource that helps youth who are living with an adult other than a parent, legal guardian, or legal custodian. The form allows another adult to make decisions related to education and healthcare. The decision-making is done in concurrence with a parent, legal guardian, or legal custodian, and does not take away parental rights.
For this youth, access to the form means she can create the safe and affirming space she needs to grow. Her school advisor has signed on as her Caregiver, working alongside her parents in the decision-making around transition-related healthcare. With this form, she has begun moving forward in her transition, a huge step toward becoming the person she knows herself to be.
We know creating a safe, welcoming, and affirming environment bolsters the wellbeing of LGBTQ youth. A key part of my and GLAD’s family law work is to educate youth and families across New England and provide them with the tools they need to empower themselves to seek and build those safe spaces. Here at GLAD, we aim to give youth the information they need to know their rights and to give families the encouragement and resources to better understand and support their youth.
Together with youth and the communities they grow up in, we can create a future where every child is safe, affirmed, and cared for, no matter who or where they are.
If you would like more information about rights and resources for transgender youth, contact GLAD Answers, our legal info line, at www.GLADAnswers.org or 800.455.GLAD.