Transgender Youth Disproportionally Represented in Foster Care System

By Stefani Coverson, Chief People & Equity Strategy Officer

I write to you today about a serious and somber topic and want to recognize the contents of this message may be activating for some as it addresses violence towards and murder of members of the Transgender Community.

As you may already be aware, November 20 is recognized as Transgender Day of Remembrance to remember those who have been murdered due to transphobia.  This day of remembrance was started in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil honoring Rita Hester, a Black Transgender woman who was murdered in her home in 1998. Her murder remains unsolved 22 years later.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, since January 2013, 183 Transgender or Gender Non-Conforming people have been killed in the U.S. and a disproportionate number of the killings have happened in the South.  Of the 158 Transgender Women who were murdered during this time frame, 123 were Black. And 2020 has been the deadliest year (thus far as 2020 is not over) on record for the Transgender Community

Transgender youth are disproportionally represented in the foster care system. A study conducted by the Williams Institute found that 5.6% of youth experiencing foster care identified as Transgender but were only 2.6% of the general youth population. And once in foster care, Transgender youth are subjected to further trauma and systemic barriers that perpetuate bias and discrimination.

All youth experiencing foster care deserve a physically and psychologically safe and affirming environment and supports. And Treehouse is uniquely positioned to advocate for Transgender youth to remove barriers and ensure equitable outcomes.

As we reflect together on this Transgender Day of Remembrance, please consider the following calls to action:

Commit to learning more about Transgender identity and the issues impacting this community.

Learn the stories of Transgender people murdered in 2020.

Learn about the work of the Trans Women of Color Collective.

Demonstrate support for Transgender equality and be an ally.

Support Transgender youth and be familiar with supportive resources.

“Every breath a Trans person takes is an act of revolution.” ~ Dr. Lourdes Ashley Hunter, Executive Director & Global Initiatives Officer for The Trans Women Collective

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About the Author

An accomplished human resources leader with more than 20 years of experience, Stefani brings a people-first commitment to Treehouse. She joined Treehouse in 2020 from Clark College where she served as Vice President of Human Resources & Compliance. She’s also worked for Seattle University, Seattle Public Schools and started her career at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).

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