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7 trans women and femmes of colour you should be following

January 27, 2020

by Hannah Koning

Alok Vaid Menon (pictured)

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 Shraya

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 Philip

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 Jones

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

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 Mock

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

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

7 Gender-Affirming Clothing Providers

January 13, 2020

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.

Fat Owl Fashion

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!

dfrntpigeon

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 Clothing

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

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 Streetwear

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).

XYST UGLI

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

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


9 places to meet LGBTQ+ folks online

January 6, 2020

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

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.

Find LGBTQIAP+ Friends

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.

LGBT Chat and Forums

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.

Apps

HER

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

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.

Amino

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

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.


7 organizations supporting LGBTQ+ youth you should donate to this holiday season

December 23, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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.


Trans Folks Have Always Existed

December 17, 2019

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

A Few Things to Remember If You’re Doubting Your Identity

December 2, 2019

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.

  1. Doubt doesn’t automatically invalidate your experiences or your identity.
  2. It’s okay to be unsure. It’s okay to be confused. It’s okay to be questioning. It’s also okay to never stop being any of these things.
  3. Most straight/cis people never question their identity.
  4. It’s okay to come out again with a different label. You also never have to formally “come out” if you don’t want to. You are under no obligation to label yourself. You can just be you.
  5. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of your identity or your journey.
  6. Sexuality and gender are fluid. Just because you feel one way now doesn’t mean you always will. Just because you used to feel one way and now feel another doesn’t mean you never felt that way.
  7. Maybe you just haven’t found the right label for you. Maybe there isn’t one. But chances are there are a bunch of other people out there that feel just like you do. Check out Ash Hardell’s book The GayBCs of LGBTQ+ or their videos to learn about more!
  8. No one knows you better than you know yourself.

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!

Ace and Aro Identities: An Introduction

November 25, 2019

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+


10 Teeny Tiny Ways to Validate Your Gender Identity if You’re Not Out

November 18, 2019

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.

  1. Cut or grow out your hair. Shave or don’t.
  2. Use deodorant and fragrances that feel more true to your gender identity.
  3. Use sports or compression bras if you can’t get or wear a binder. Try not to bind yourself with tape or bandages as these can be physically damaging.
  4. Buy clothes at thrift shops. There’s generally less of a divide when it comes to “men’s” and “women’s” clothing. It can also feel less conspicuous than shopping in a store that caters to one gender.
  5. Wear trans/nonbinary/genderfluid/etc. flag colours.
  6. Draw yourself how you see yourself or use an avatar creator.
  7. Wear subtle makeup, like a tinted moisturizer or lip balm.
  8. Wear underwear that feels comfortable to you, like boxers or a bralette.
  9. Say your identity, your name, and your pronouns to yourself.
  10.  Wear the things you want to by yourself. Spend time looking more like your authentic self and get to know yourself.

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


Welcome to QChat!

November 14, 2019

Welcome to QCHAT!

QCHAT is an LGBTQIA2S+ peer support association made up of peer volunteers here on 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?


QCHAT is:

a peer support line

  • The world is tough for LGBTQIA2S+ folks. We’re here to make it a little less so. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, confused, scared, doubtful, sad, anxious, out of your depth, lonely, angry, like you’re falling without a net… we’re here for you. If you know someone that might be going through these things, refer them to us.

a place to talk and ask questions

  • Don’t know where to find your local queer resources? Need to know you belong? Just have something on your mind? Talk to us! If we don’t have what you’re looking for, we’ll try our best to direct you to a resource that will.

your community

  • All QCHAT volunteers are queer and/or trans folks in their thirties and younger. We are just like you. We have been through many of the same experiences, had many of the same questions, thought many of the same things. We understand that while everyone’s life and experiences are different, queer and trans folks have their own unique knowledge, life lessons, and understanding of the world. We can share ours with you, and you can share yours with us.

local

  • QCHAT is based in Victoria and is here to serve the LGBTQIA2S+ youth of BC. We’re familiar with resources all over the province. Just let us know what you need!

looking for more volunteers

  • If you would like to lend an ear and staff the lines at QCHAT, let us know!


QCHAT is not:

  • a crisis line: If you are dealing with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, we encourage you to seek help here: 
  • Youthspace.ca, online chat or SMS 778-783-0177
  • Youthinbc.com, online chat or 1-800-784-2433
  • Trans Lifeline, call 877-330-6366
  • KUU-US for indigenous youth 250-723-2040 and elders 250-723-2040
  • Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868
  • Professional help: Our volunteers go through multiple hours of training. However, we are not professional health workers or therapists. If your needs go beyond our services, chat with one of our volunteers about other resources, or try our resource database (here).


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.