141st APHA Annual Meeting

In This section

Other side of risk: Reframing housing instability for transgender and gender nonconforming young people

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Jama Shelton, LMSW , Social Welfare, CUNY Graduate Center, New York, NY
The purpose of this study was to holistically describe the experience of homelessness among a sample of TGNC youth. Though the literature suggests that TGNC youth are disproportionately represented in this population, little is known about their individual characteristics, their experiences with homelessness, the reasons for their homelessness, or the interplay between their TGNC identity and their housing status. This inquiry examines the specific experiences of TGNC youth, in order to differentiate their needs from their LGB counterparts. The social invisibility of TGNC youth necessitates inclusive and representative research. A population that is misrepresented and silenced in society at large has been treated similarly in the world of research. In a conscious effort to work against further subjugation of their voices, this study utilized semi-structured interviews and the visual method of mapping to collect data. Twenty-seven TGNC youth ages 18-24 participated. Housing instability presented expected challenges. However, the majority of participants also described instances of affirmation and growth. These instances were related to the articulation of gender identity and involved an expanding sense of self, connection to community, access to information. They consistently challenge the dominant discourse related to homelessness, requiring that we rethink how we inquire about their needs and provide services. Consistent with strengths based and non-pathologizing perspectives, the findings suggest that professionals working with homeless TGNC youth should address and build upon beneficial experiences and connections. Starting without negative assumptions, examining these aspects of the homeless experience for TGNC youth is crucial to developing prevention/intervention strategies.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Program planning
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Differentiate the needs of unstably housed transgender & gender nonconforming (TGNC) young people from their LGB counterparts. Describe affirming experiences TGNC young people identify as part of their homeless experience. Formulate proactive interventions based on more than risk-reduction to foster affirming experiences for TGNC young people.

Keywords: Homelessness, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral student in Social Welfare at the CUNY Graduate Center. This presentation is based on my dissertation research, which is approved by the CUNY IRB. I'm an adjunct professor at the NYU & the Hunter College Schools of Social Work, and have worked for the past 9 years with LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.