My name is Savannah Jackson, and I'm a transgendered woman.
The Gender Centre of NSW works tirelessly to develop and provide services and activities which enhance the lives of Transgender people. They helped me when I first decided to transition and now I'm helping them.
Youth camps are a wonderful learning and growth experience for teenagers and young adults.
However, transgender young people often miss the opportunity to participate in youth camps and programs that truly address their unique needs.
As a result, many do not attend and miss out on the opportunities to share, grow, laugh and learn.
To address this important need in the community, the Gender Centre is organising the first Transtopia Youth Camp, designed specifically and exclusively for transgender youth.
36 young people would be able to attend the three day camp. As the needs for young people cross a significant age range, the camp would be split into 2 distinct age groups: 13- 17 and 18-21. As such ideally there would be 18 spaces allocated to each age range. The activities for the camp would run separately for the age ranges so the unique issues relevant for each age group would be written into their program.
Camp Yarramundi is the venue that has been identified as ideal for the camp. It is a fully equipped and established youth camp venue easily accessible to Sydney. Yarramundi provides fully trained staff to facilitate some of the fun activities that will be offered as part of the program such as rock climbing, flying fox and kayaking. These, however, will not be the only activities that will be part of the program. Workshops looking at positive mental health, issues of transitioning, school / education, and bullying will also be part of the event.
The aim is to balance fun social activities with some opportunities for therapeutic topical discussions to be the key framework in designing the overall calendar of activities for the camp.
NSW police officers, transgender young adults working in health care and mental health sector, and a number of other professional people have already identified a willingness to volunteer their time to run these workshops.
Each night there will be a social event aimed at increasing opportunities for young people to just relax, be themselves and connect with others.
The majority of the attendees will be coming from regional and rural NSW. Imagine being a transgender young person in rural NSW. These young people are often the only one or two in their entire community’s population. The isolation and lack opportunity to connect with other young people experiencing the same issues is very real and challenging.
Overall the key outcomes the Gender Centre hopes to achieve through establishment of a youth camp are:
* A safe space for young transgender people to meet and engage in social activities to feel connected and less socially isolated
* Opportunities for young people to feel comfortable to learn and seek out information that will help them navigate issues of living comfortably within their own unique identity.
* A space for young people to meet and establish safe and supportive friendships to reduce isolation and sense of aloneness in their diversity
* A fun event that allows transgender young people respite from the feelings of depression many identify as they navigate their gender issues
The money raised will be used to fund the costs of the Camp (food, accomodation, camp staff) as well as the travel costs for the participants.
The aim is to run the camp in 2017/18, during the school holidays. The sooner we can reach our fund raising target the sooner we can book the camp.
Transgender youth, especially those in rural locations, are some of society's most marginalised young people. The suicide rate amongst trans youth is 47%...the highest of any group!
A youth camp designed specifically for young, rural based trans kids could not just change their lives, it could even save their lives!
Your support of this worthwhile cause is greatly appreciated. The young people will benefit enormously from this very special camp designed just for them.
Thanks so much
- Kate Toyer
North Willoughby NSW