QCHAT is an LGBTQIA2S+ peer support association made up of peer volunteers here in Vancouver Island. Our organization exists to provide peer support and referral services to youth residing in British Columbia, Canada.
QCHAT was founded by two students who are passionate about the importance of community and connectedness. It has now grown to include so many more passionate youth in Victoria BC, and our first cohort of volunteers is now trained!
After months of preparation, we’re proud to announce that we've officially launched. Our phone, texting, and online chat have been active since October 7, 2019.
Not sure if QCHAT is the right resource for you?
You can find QCHAT on Facebook and at our website. Our phone, text, and online chat lines are open Monday-Wednesday, 6:00-9:00 pm. We also have an ever-growing resource database.
by Hannah Koning
It’s Transgender Awareness Month! This is the time to learn about and celebrate trans folks. However, it can be difficult when aren’t ready to be out or it isn’t safe for you.
If this is you or someone you know, here are a few little ways to validate your gender and assuage some dysphoric feelings without the pressure to go public with your identity.
These are just a few of the small ways to feel more like yourself if you’re not ready to come out or it’s not safe to do so. Please share any tips and tricks that have helped you to feel more like you! <3
By Hannah Koning*
Asexuality: an umbrella term and/or stand-alone identifier for people who do not experience sexual attraction to varying degrees
Aromanticism: an umbrella term and/or stand-alone identifier for people who do not experience romantic attraction to varying degrees
The language around ace these identities is unfamiliar to lots of people. Note that the spectrum does not go from “asexual” to “sexual”— instead, use the term “allosexual” to describe someone who feels consistent sexual attraction. The same is true when it comes to “aromantic” and “alloromantic”.
Demisexuality and demiromanticism fall under the ace/aro spectrum as well, as do greysexuality and greyromanticism.
Demisexuality/romanticism includes people who only experience attraction to people with whom they have formed a strong emotional bond.
Greysexuality/romanticism includes people who experience very low amounts of attraction/experience attraction rarely or only under certain conditions/are not sure whether they experience attraction.
It’s important to recognize the split attraction model when it comes to asexuality and aromanticism. Sexual and romantic orientations don’t always align. Someone can be asexual and panromantic, or heterosexual and aromantic, or demi/bisexual and grey/homoromantic.
Even people that experience both sexual and romantic attraction can even have sexual and romantic orientations that don’t overlap at all, like someone who is homosexual and heteroromantic.
Some asexual people have sex. There are many reasons why, perhaps as many as allosexual people (with the exception of being sexually attracted to who they’re having sex with!). Some ace people masturbate. Some ace people are sex workers. Ace doesn’t mean celibate or sex-repulsed, though of course there are asexuals who are also these things.
Asexual and aromantic folks often find themselves overlooked within or excluded from queer spaces. Exclusionists that don’t believe asexuality and aromanticism are queer orientations. They’re wrong! Asexuals and aromantics are not straight. They don’t fit into the cishet expectations of society. They belong to the LGBTQ+ community.
Ace and aro people face discrimination, erasure, and lack of resources. We can help combat this through education, representation, and vocal allyship. Check out these ace/aro resources and share your own!
*The author of this post is allosexual/romantic and is not speaking from personal experience as an ace or aro person. It is important to listen to and believe ace and aro voices when it comes to lived experiences, perspectives, and information about these identities.
Definitions are from Ash Hardell’s free resource The GayBCs of LGBT+
by Hannah Koning
Doubting one’s identity is something that many, many LGBTQ+ people experience. Feelings of not being queer or trans enough are super common. If this is you, know that you are not alone! Here are a few things to keep in mind if you find that your doubts are tearing you down.
You are queer enough. You are trans enough. There is no such thing as not enough. Wherever you’re at in your understanding of and comfort with your identity, know that you are valid, worthy, and loved. And you’ve always got someone to talk to.
Are there other ways you’ve navigated doubt? Let us and others know!
by Hannah Koning
The majority of trans and nonbinary public figures and online communities are millennials or younger. However, the concept of “transtrenders” is both ignorant and incorrect. It makes sense that more people are out now than fifty years ago. It’s safer, plus there’s just way more information available now. And that info is super accessible, as are people to talk to about these sorts of topics (like us here at QCHAT!). Representation and resources both play huge roles in the visibility of trans people and more and more folks identifying with that community.
Figuring out one's gender identity is also not exclusive to younger folks. Gender is fluid—people may find that their identity shifts and evolves as they get older. It’s never too late to realize something about yourself. It’s also never too late to transition.
Many cultures have recognized more than two genders for ages. In North America, for example, Two Spirit people were and are seen as key members of society and celebrated for their unique roles. Trans, nonbinary, and Two Spirit people have always been here. Check out these links for amazing articles and photos of those that have survived and thrived over the decades:
An intimate look into the lives of trans elders
20 Photos of Trans Elders Who Have Survived by Jess T. Dugan
Here’s What Older Trans And Nonbinary People Want You To Know
In addition, UVic’s Transgender Archives are an amazing resource when it comes to learning more about the history of trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit folks. They constitute the largest collection of trans publications and memorabilia in existence and are freely accessible to the public.
photo credit: Jess T. Dugan
by Hannah Koning
Since it’s the season of giving, here are some phenomenal resources for LGBTQ2SIA+ youth that you can support. Help out these organizations with your money, time, or by sharing this post! These are all great ways to make the holidays a little brighter.
Native Youth Sexual Health Network
NYSHN is run by and for Indigenous youth. They advocate for youth rights and safety and work with communities throughout Canada and the US to prevent violence and provide resources and education. They uplift Two Spirit and LGBTQ+ youth and centre justice, health, and safety.
InterAct is an organization that advocates for intersex youth. They work to provide intersex children with legal protection and spread information and awareness about the intersex community. Check out the hashtag #MyIntersexBody for personal stories and advocacy for bodily autonomy.
Egale strives to eliminate queerphobia and transphobia via advocacy, research, and education. Their project SpeakOUT is a five-year, three-phase endeavour that seeks to research and prevent LGBTQI2S youth dating violence. They are also running a survey to understand how to make secondary schools safer and more accepting and inclusive.
Gender Creative Kids Canada strives to create safe, affirming spaces for kids to explore and feel comfortable with their gender identity and expression. They provide information and resources for the families, schools, and communities of gender creative children. From their website: “Gender creative kids are kids who identify and express their gender in ways that differ from what others may expect.”
The Trevor Project provides 24 hour support for LGBTQ+ youth in crisis. While their call, text and online chat services are limited to those in the US, TrevorSpace is an online chat room available internationally for youth ages 13-24. In 2019 they connected with over 100,000 youth, providing invaluable suicide prevention and crisis intervention services.
BC Poverty Reduction Coalition
Queer and trans youth often find themselves in unsafe home situations or are kicked out altogether, resulting in far higher rates of homelessness and poverty than their straight counterparts. The BC Poverty Reduction Coalition focuses on political and systemic change in order to solve this problem. They are a member of The Canadian Coalition Against LGBTQ+ Poverty.
PFLAG provides peer support and education on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression for folks across Canada. There are chapters in every province which strive to both unify and create LGBTQ2S families.
by Hannah Koning
It can be tough to find and meet queer or trans friends in day-to-day life, especially if you live in a small town or you aren’t out yet. Luckily, we’ve got the Internet. Here are a bunch of places to meet LGBTQ+ folks online!
TrevorSpace is an online community for LGBTQ+ youth ages 13-24. Unlike The Trevor Project’s call, text, and chat services, TrevorSpace is available internationally and is peer-to-peer.
This Tumblr blog lets you submit an introductory post about yourself and specify what kinds of friends you’d like to make. You can also read the posts of hundred of other queer and trans young people looking to connect with people just like them. You can message folks you think you might click with, but it’s also just a great place to hear from LGBTQ+ people around the world and know that there are so many people sharing similar experiences and feelings.
This site is a collection of forums and topic threads where you can ask questions, get support, and chat about anything from gaming to mental health with queer and trans people.
While HER bills itself as primarily a dating app, it’s also a social app. Despite the name, HER provides a variety of pronoun options as well as the ability to tailor your own. HER was created “for queer womxn by queer womxn,” and features 18 sexuality and 17 gender options. Note: HER has an age restriction of 18+.
Qutie is similar to HER but is available to anyone under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. They even specifically advertise their platform as trans, ace, and intersex-friendly. They also focus more heavily on friendship than HER does, though they are restricted to 18+ users as well.
While there will be a standalone Amino app for LGBT+ folks for a little longer, the main Amino app will soon replace it. However, Amino allows you to choose LGBTQ+ as a main interest, set your gender as nonbinary, and find dozens of communities for queer, trans, and questioning folks. The app is for users 13 and up.
Meetup allows people to post group activities, club meetings, and events both large and small happening in their towns and cities. Search the site to see if there are any events geared towards LGBTQ+ folks in your community.
Reddit & Facebook
These social media sites boast dozens of subreddits and groups bustling with queer and trans folks. A great thing about these communities is that they can be as broad or specific as you like. Of course there are larger, overarching LGBTQ+ groups, but there are also smaller, more tailored groups for all sorts of identities. Want to connect with more asexual people? Wish you could hear from more Two-Spirit folks? Need a space to discuss nonbinary life? Simply search and see what’s out there.
Always be safe and cautious when meeting new people online. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t continue chatting.
by Hannah Koning
Mainstream clothing stores almost always divvy up their clothing according to gender. But clothing isn’t inherently gendered! These clothing retailers are LGBTQ-owned and provide fashion doesn’t fit into an arbitrary gender binary.
Note: some of these retailers can be more expensive as they produce their clothing in smaller quantities and are run by independent business owners rather than big corporations. Supporting these folks is amazing if you can, but no one should feel bad if they cannot afford these items.
What an adorable name for a store. In addition to tshirts and buttons with cute queer art and anti-facist messaging, Fat Owl Fashion offers custom garment design. According to their website, they specialize in “plus sizes, gender non-restrictive clothing, and adaptive clothing for the disabled community.” They also sell dice bags!
Pronounced “different pigeon,” dfrntpigeon is a brand run by marginalized, at-risk youth with the aid of mentors. These creators are able to gain paid design experience and share their perspectives and art with the world. Their store is currently stocked with a variety of gorgeous floral “We Believe Survivors” merch and other nature-inspired designs.
Stuzo is “a gender free apparel company for all humans to enjoy.” They are women-owned and much of their clothing celebrates feminism, queerness, and blackness Their newest items include a collection of artistically hand-bleached tops and hoodies. Act quick: all items are 25% off until Jan 17/20.
Rebirth Garments makes clothes and accessories for folks of any gender, size, and ability. Their pieces are handmade to order and unapologetically unique. They also create custom orders and will alter anything in their shop to accommodate binding, tucking, and packing needs. They recognize that trans and disabled folks are incredibly underserved when it comes to clothing and are working to remedy that one neon-accented binder at a time.
FLAVNT’s slogan? “Changing the world and looking damn fine doing it.” They’ve got a variety of queer and trans designs, including pronoun tees. Their Bareskin Binder aims to provide a “shirtless” experience and is available in 5 colours and 7 sizes. Also, 15% of all sales go towards funding gender-affirming surgery for one trans person at a time (currently they are fundraising for @bydunhill).
There are lots of Etsy stores featuring clothing and accessories for queer and trans bodies. Here’s one of them! XYST UGLI sells upcycled, handmade, customizable pieces inspired by intersectional activism and radical self-acceptance. They donate the proceeds to a variety of good causes.
Radimo features clothing and accessories produced by marginalized creators. Their focus is social justice and they believe that all clothing is gender neutral. Explore the collections of over a dozen creators on their site, including a couple from this list!
photo credit: Ryan Burke
by Hannah Koning
Alok is a writer and performance artist known for their poetry, activism, and one-of-a-kind style. They have released three gender-neutral fashion lines and “see fashion as an extension of their politics.” Alok has presented their work all over the world, speaking and performing in more than 40 countries, and was featured in the documentary The Trans List.
Vivek is a prolific writer, musician, visual artist, and performer. She is a five-time finalist for the Lambda Literary Awards. Her most recent book, I’m Afraid of Men, “explores how masculinity was imposed on her as a boy and continues to haunt her as a girl--and how we might reimagine gender for the twenty-first century.” She also starred in MAC Cosmetic’s Canadian Originals campaign.
Aaron is the first black, trans, and disabled model to sign with a leading agency (Elite Model Management). She is a beacon of visibility and change for a community barely represented in modelling. Paper Magazine featured her on their cover a year and a half after they first profiled her, dubbing her “most likely to inspire the next generation.”
Jari is an actress, curve model, and activist. She modelled during New York Fashion Week in 2019 and is featured in Dove’s #ArmsUp campaign. Her wife, Corey Kempster, is also a trans femme model and activist and they began their transitions while together. Jari describes their unique relationship as “magical.”
Peppermint is a drag queen, actor, and singer, best known for her time as a RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant. She was the first trans queen to come out before her episodes aired and finished second place in season nine. She continues to work as a performer and activist and has featured on SNL.
Janet is an author and long-time activist. Her memoir and debut book Redefining Realness became a New York Times bestseller. Most recently, she has written, directed, and produced episodes of the Netflix show Pose, the first trans woman to work as a creative lead for a major content company.
Laverne Cox is a groundbreaking actress and advocate. She is the first openly trans woman to be nominated for an Emmy and has gone on to be nominated for two more as an actress and win one as a producer. Her role in Orange is the New Black first brought her to prominence as the first trans woman of colour in a leading role of a mainstream television show.
photo credit: Alok Vaid-Menon