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9 Ways to Save Your Life if You’re Young and Trans

9 Ways to Save Your Life if You’re Young and Trans
January 3, 2015 Jennifer Boylan

Hope is the thing with feathers.

What does it say about us that a 17 year old transgender person like Leelah Alcorn would choose to jump in front of a truck rather than live her life?

Here is my list of Nine Things You Can Do if You’re Young and Trans. Maybe you have some of your own. Let’s pay this forward.  I hope we can save some lives.

1. Read. Kate Bornstein is a good place to begin. Gender Outlaw. And the anti-suicide Hello Cruel World

2. Write. Keep a journal, tell your story. Write fantasy. Narrative helps you make sense of the chaos.

3. Talk. Find people you can trust. If someone wants to “convert” you, find someone else. We exist.

4. Play a long game.Worst thing is not having your ACTUAL LIFE NOW. But you can find your way in time.

5. Make noise. Play in a band. Scream. Don’t keep it inside. Express yourself any way you can.

6. If you can stand it, your homework. Education can be your get out of jail card.

7. Know you are not alone.There are tens of thousands of us & we’re a rising force. You have family.

8. Have faith if you want faith.  Not every denomination is hostile.  If you are Christian, know that UCC, Universalist/Unitarians, Quakers, and many others are open and affirming.  Find your people.

9. If you are in crisis, call this number: a Trans suicide hotline. (877-565-8860)

These are my suggestions.  What are yours?


  1. Helen Walther 9 years ago

    10. Remember that even if you can’t see it, hope is still there. Depression may hide it from you but it will reappear. Build a support system ahead of time who will remind you of that when you lose sight of hope.

  2. Daria Christine 9 years ago

    #7 carries the message; there are thousands of us and we’re getting easier to find.

    #8 on the other hand is no help at all; offering ‘faith’ in a delusional fantasy made palatable by removing the quotes that call for our deaths is a compromise I cannot support. “Good” Christians or “Bad” Christians, the book they ALL claim to follow says that we should be put to death and that is NOT an acceptable way to deal with being LGB or T.

  3. Colleen Micheletti 9 years ago

    Hi Jenny,
    My awakening text was True Selves: Understanding Transsexualism… by Brown, Rounsley
    Trans Forming Famlies by Boeneke

    Thankfully in today’s society there are places like a local GSA, groups like PFLAG and The Internet! I grew up thinking that I was the only person EVER like me. It just ‘aint so!

  4. Roxanne Barreto 9 years ago

    Cry – Crying will help to release the pent up emotion and aggression.

  5. Davida 9 years ago

    Thank you for putting this out. Great advise.

  6. Sylvia de la Rose 9 years ago

    Express yourself via any form of art! Paint, draw, cartoons, music, dance, theater just to name a few! Surround yourself with positive influence and hope!

  7. Theresa Scott 9 years ago

    The thing that really gave me hope was to read about a dozen memoirs by other trans people, beginning with “She’s Not There,” and Lynn Conway’s online “Retrospective.” Today I would also HIGHLY recommend “Redefining Realness” by Janet Mock.

    These stories represented eyewitness accounts of the truth that I was not alone. They gave me a narrative I had never heard before, that my inner self is real, that I am worthwhile, that I can have a life, that I can find love, that I can actually reveal who I am inside and survive, I can live as the me that I had kept hidden all my life. Somehow I survived till I was 59 years old, just barely, nearly taking my life many times, and no one new the pain I carried.

    Since my transition, beginning in late 2012, I have discovered a happiness and fulfillment in life I had never imagined possible. I am now delighted to see our society beginning to change, and I know how important it is to protect these young people. I was one of them and barely survived. Those of us who have survived owe it to others to help them find their way.

  8. john capalbo 9 years ago

    Dose P-Flag have a chapter in Mexico.

  9. Maddie B 9 years ago

    My survival keys (I grew up in a very oppressive, very conservative home with abuse and trauma galore):
    1. Anger is not the enemy. It tells us when something is not right, and gives us the power to keep fighting until we are free. I was damned if I was going to let the haters win by getting me to kill myself; let them try. The best revenge is happiness, and I have taken out that revenge on the world.
    2. The family we were born into is our accidental family. Surviving to adulthood means we get to create our own families, of new sisters, new brothers, new aunts and uncles. I have a wonderful queer family that is closer to me than my birth family ever was.
    3. It is natural to hate our bodies or our selves, but neither of them are the source of our suffering. Society and the stupid way it treats people with gender differences is. I live not only for myself, but for the day when trans and non-binary kids no longer have to endure what I did.

  10. Diane Gaskill 9 years ago

    Hi Jen,

    I’d like to add another nine items to your list. These are from my book Twin Souls, Millie Brown’s idea for a sequel to her book, True Selves. It is still a work in progress. My nine grandkids come first. Well, when you raise nine kids, grandkids do happen. 🙂


    1. Believe in yourself. You are a worthwhile person, no matter what gender you are or how you perceive yourself.

    2. There is nothing wrong with you. You were simply born different.

    3. There is no fault for being who you are. You did not decide to do anything or be anything other than your true self.

    4. Never give up. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s called the Sun. You will see it eventually, as thousands of us who have gone before you have.

    5. Education is the key to successful transition. Educate yourself and those around you. The more you know and the more they know, the more likely you will succeed.

    6. Transition is never something you do alone. If you have a family, involve them in your plans and/or decisions whenever appropriate. They are part of your life and you are part of theirs. As hard as it might be, you will be more successful if you put them first most of the time.

    7. Plan out your journey in detail before doing anything. At every step of the way, think about the consequences to yourself and to those who love and who love you before doing anything.

    8. Transition slowly. Baby steps is the correct pace. It gives you and those around you time to adjust to the change you are making. Remember, when you change, they must change their perception of you, and possibly their their relationship to you. That is the hard part.

    9. Change is work. The bigger the change, the harder it is, the more work it is, and the more time it takes. Transition is a BIG change. Take the time to do it right.

  11. Katie Leone 9 years ago

    10. Exercise.
    11. Make reachable goals and see them through
    12. Keep promises to yourself – if you can’t trust yourself, you can’t trust anyone
    13. Forgive those who don’t understand you or what you are going through. People have a difficult time seeing things that are beyond themselves.
    14. Give it time. People don’t come around as quickly as we want, but some do eventually come around.
    15. Know where you stand. It is easier to stand firm in your beliefs when they make sense to you

  12. Maya 9 years ago

    Sylvia: I love your comment because Leelah was a promising young artist. She posted some of her work on her tumblr blog which has since been removed, however two pieces are still on Reddit.

    I can only imagine where she could have taken this talent.

    These are all great posts. Thank you.

  13. Maryanne Marttini 9 years ago

    Pick your goasl and write down the steps to achieve them. Take your time as the journey is as rewarding as the end.

  14. Lisa 9 years ago

    Say it with me… I am beautiful! Say it often to yourself and remember that it takes time for true beauty to see themselves.

  15. Karen Lane 9 years ago

    I’m so glad you DID include number 8. Just because some Christians interpret the Bible as condemning non-majority sexuality or gender doesn’t mean that all Christians do. Why make the haters the arbiters of truth? Please note that Unitarian Universalism, while it grew out of 2 (heretic) Christian traditions, is (since the 60s) a creedless religion that provides a spiritual home for not only Christians but atheists, pagans, Wiccans, Jews, Muslims and all other humans regardless of creed. We agree as a community to affirm and support the inherent worth and dignity of every person as well as 6 other principles (you can find them at I am an atheist and a very active UU. My church is the venue for (and several of our members volunteer at) a weekly social and supportive drop-in Friday evenings for LGBTQ teens, supervised by LGBTQ adults, as well as dances a few times a year. For more about that group, go to

  16. Aaron R. Munoz 9 years ago

    Seek out the online trans* community. The YouTube channels and blogs on Tumblr of hundreds of other trans men and gender fluid individuals talking about their stories saved my life and let me know I wasn’t alone and could get there too.

  17. Kirstin 9 years ago

    On the darkest days, find something to look forward to. It can be anything, even something really small. Focus on it, anticipate it, & then do your best to enjoy it when it arrives. Repeat. While in the worst depths of my depression, I lived event-to-event. Sometimes I wanted to give up, but each day I made it got me to another day it might get better. Eventually, the tide turned and it did get better.

  18. Sara Brentano 9 years ago

    express your authentic self through art! Meditate, visualize, find the support of spiritual gurus on line. Listen to their audio books. Avoid becoming trapped in social media drama. Set the intention to find your tribe… Know that love is within you- and no matter what, at the end of the day, you will always be loved❤️

  19. Tiffany Nicolina 9 years ago

    Keep things that remind you of your true self always close by. Before transition was possible , I kept a small felt pink heart , a pretty ring, and a pair of earrings all on my nightstand so I could see them every night. Make other trans friends online / in real life. Join support groups. Talk to medical professionals , including your family doctor. Read books . Get as much info as you can. You are NOT alone. I am here, we are here, there are SO many people who know what you’re experiencing. Go on You Tube, write comments. Ask questions. Be safe. You are loved by the trans community, never forget it. We are here !

  20. Dawn Ennis 9 years ago

    Love your list, Jenny.
    Mine was a lot like yours. I thought up some new ones. How about these?

    1. Exercise: Get some fresh air.
    2. Reconnect: find a long lost friend and un-lose them.
    3. Cook.: If you don’t know how: learn to cook!
    4. Sleep: Dream. It’s nice in there.
    5. Get away: Change the scenery.
    6. Make Love (partner optional).
    7. Shop: You don’t have to buy, but get what you need.
    8. Relax: Chill, lay down, take a break.
    9. Drink: Water. It’s important (the other stuff isn’t).
    10. Eat (see number 3 and 7): you must to survive.
    11. Pray: Meditate, think good thoughts, space out. You’re entitled.

  21. Elizabeth Savage 9 years ago

    If your immediate family is truly oppressive then seriously consider moving. Sometimes that may be your best option because as already stated, you are not alone, there are others like us out there and you need to find them. If moving is not an option find support online. These options were not available to me. Remember things will get better.

  22. Toni Marshall 9 years ago

    Develop your sense of humor. Laughter brings and holds us together. Sometimes it can even bring you straight through the darkness to a simple and powerful truth. A quick wit is a very empowering thing.

  23. laura macwaters 9 years ago

    10). make lots of small steps. It doesn’t matter how small, or even if it is only one step at a time, just as long as you can keep moving forward even a little bit. Never feel stuck or trapped, always some progress. It kept be mostly sane and definitely alive in the 70’s, and 80’s, and 90’s until I could really do something about it.

  24. Monica Jacobson 9 years ago

    Re: #8 and Unitarian Universalism, a clarification: many UUs are not Christians, although some are, and some are UU-Jews, UU-Buddhists, UU-Pagans, UU-Humanists, etc., with others identifying simply as UUs. Daria Christine raises the point that there’s material in the Christian Bible that’s homophobic and transphobic, so it seemed worth pointing out that for UUs the Christian Bible is one of many core texts from world religions, not The Book the way it would be in a Christian church.

    You can read about the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Welcoming Congregation program, like what attaining “Welcoming Congregation” status requires. The congregation finder lets you search by zip code or city/state and any listing that has the little rainbow chalice logo is a church that is a Welcoming Congregation.

  25. Colleen Micheletti 9 years ago

    OMG! How could I have forgotten my dear friend Joanne Herman and her work in the Advocate and the book Transgender Explained For Those Who Are Not

    Can help someone who thinks they might be to figure things out and good for a leave-with for a coming out that really really matters.

  26. Mama Noah 9 years ago

    The parts in the Bible that u believe say to kill LGBTQ’s is not interpreted that way by everyone. To understand the Bible u need to know first and foremost from beginning to end there is one way to describe Gods word. Love. Many people do not look at he full context of some of these passages. Jesus would NEVERcall for anyone to kill another, thets why when the adulteress woman was brought before Him He showed everyone around that to stone her was wrong. That’s my Bible and that’s my Lord and Savior and I have a Trans daughter and others in the LGBTQ community in my family and as close friends. There is no condemnation


  1. […] in one of the forums I belong to shared this post titled 9 Ways to Save Your Life if You’re Young and Trans. It’s definitely worth a read and I’ll be adding it to my resources page as […]

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