Pride Month Spotlight: CGSHE’s REAFFIRM Collaborative launches a survey to explore gender expression & sexual identities in Two-Spirit, trans & queer youth
June 1, 2022 | News, Blog
As Pride Month gears up, researchers at the Centre for Gender & Sexual Health Equity are asking young Canadians about their gender and sexuality in an effort to improve their safety and wellbeing. CGSHE’s REAFFIRM Collaborative by led Dr. Travis Salway, CGSHE Research Scientist and SFU Assistant Professor, launched the UNACORN survey to learn more about young people’s gender expression and sexual identity in a range of settings, including religious, health care, family and sports.
“One of the things we learned while doing research on so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in Canada is that a lot of Two-Spirit, trans and queer youth get exposed to messages that are hostile to 2SLGBTQ identities, and not all of these experiences will be labeled as ‘conversion therapy,’” explained Dr. Salway. “We wanted to better understand where young people were receiving anti-2SLGBTQ messages, and how those messages may contribute to either seeking ‘conversion therapy’ or otherwise suppressing or denying their identities to try to fit in with the cishet majority.”
<<We wanted to better understand where young people were receiving anti-2SLGBTQ messages, and how those messages may contribute to either seeking ‘conversion therapy’ or otherwise suppressing or denying their identities to try to fit in with the cishet majority.>>
Although the federal government recently banned so-called conversion therapy, thanks in part to research and advocacy by Dr. Salway and community partners, the harmful practice continues in various forms and spaces across the country. “We often hear that having just one supportive parent or adult in a trans or queer youth’s life can help them make it through the coming out process safely. But youth deserve more than just one supporter!”
Open to youth aged 15-29, the UNACORN survey also seeks to understand when participants feel affirmed in their gender and sexual identities and expressions. “Our aim is to demonstrate multiple kinds of supports that bolster the health and happiness of young 2SLGBTQ people,” Dr. Salway continued. “Survey participants are invited to share different aspects of their sexuality, their gender identity and their gender expression as well as experiences accessing gender-affirming care, so that we can capture the complexity of experiences with regard to gender and sexuality.”
Findings will be shared with school administrators, lawmakers, community groups, health care providers, religious organizations and sports teams in order to increase safety and supports for 2SLGBTQ youth in Canada, Dr. Salway said. The survey is open throughout Pride Month, up until August 15, and participants have the chance to win one of several $100 gift card prizes or a giant stuffed toy unicorn.