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Expanding Definitions

Publish Date: June 15, 2021

“Experts believe it’s not the case that the percentage of people who are transgender is not necessarily on the rise. Rather, as more language has developed for expansive gender identities, and LGBTQ+ visibility and acceptance have increased, more young people feel comfortable openly rejecting the limitations of cisgender identity at an earlier age than they would have otherwise.”

This article provides context for how broadening rigid definitions is not only important for data collection (which, for example, helps ensure government funds get to the places they’re needed most), but to validate and see people for who they are. That’s life-changing and often life-saving work.

This isn’t just the case for gender binaries; we also see how allowing a young person with a history of sexual assault to self-identify shapes their reception to service. Our Anti-Sexual Violence program staff has long known that words like “victim” or “survivor” don’t always feel fitting for young people. Labeling them this way can be alienating and undermine the healing process.

Pathfinders encourages youth to define themselves. As one of our street outreach advocates, Marina, recently said, “Honor yourself. You are EXACTLY who you say you are!” We hope this perspective becomes increasingly common in youth spaces.

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