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comments on "being safe, being me", the national canadian trans health report

Since this is kind of a big deal in my neck of the woods (Canada), I do want to make a few comments about the recently released report on trans youth, “Being Safe, Being Me” (this link takes you to the pdf). This is the first national report for trans people in Canada, not just the first report for trans youth. While it’d be great to have a report on the entire trans population, this is definitely a good thing.

In today’s climate of ‘data-driven’ or ‘evidence-based’ decision making, reports like this are crucial for funding services for marginalized populations. Unless you are quantified and, thus consumable, by the state, you will be ignored and left outside of the sphere of social services. This, of course, is a distinct problem that isn’t necessarily a criticism of the report itself.

However, it is a problem in the sense that, and I’m seeing this in many articles about the report, this is being marketed as a ‘report on trans youth’ in general. Except, that once you get into the actual demographic data for the population surveyed in the report, nothing could be further from the truth.

In section two, we get these demographic details:

  • 74% of the youth surveyed ID’d as white (10)
  • “nearly three quarters of trans youth in our survey were assigned female at birth” (13)
  • for youth age 14-18 “over 60% of them did not work for pay” (20)
  • only about 32% of youth 19-24 worked at a paid job (20)
  • 80% never went to bed hungry because of lack of money (29)

Basically, this survey and report gives the current health of middle-class+, white, afab trans youth. Essentially the same people who tend to already be at the top of the general trans community. The most advantaged within the community.

The report also, unfortunately, does not give any information or analyses based on these various factors. Like… was there a difference in food security and race? What about poverty indicators and experiences of discrimination? Anything nuanced at all?

No. None of that.

Which is a real shame because this survey had a high response from Indigenous youth (10%). This is pretty much one of the only trans-related surveys I know of that has such a high Indigenous participation rate. It would be incredibly useful to know how the health of this population is specifically, rather than in aggregate with settlers.

Basically… I know that this report will feed policy and be discussed re: trans stuff in Canada until we get a new survey with better data and analyses. And this is a problem because this survey doesn’t represent ‘trans youth’ but rather the most privileged subset of the group.