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Acceptance is Key to Ensuring Transgender Young People Are Safe, Healthy, and Thriving

New Campaign Calls on Parents and Communities to Share Their Stories of Growing to Accept and Support Transgender Youth


Washington, D.C., February 5, 2019—A new campaign launched today by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), the Biden Foundation, and Gender Spectrum, “Advancing Acceptance,” raises awareness of the importance of family and community acceptance in the lives of transgender and gender diverse youth. The campaign provides crucial resources for friends and family who may have questions, be struggling with acceptance, or who are looking for ways to support transgender or gender diverse youth. According to the Biden Foundation, when parents and families accept and embrace their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) child, that acceptance dramatically improves their child’s self-esteem and decreases the likelihood they will experience depression or suicidal ideation, or engage in self-harming behaviors. And research shows that transgender youth experience greatly reduced anxiety and depression when they are accepted and affirmed at home, in school, and in their communities. 

Family and community rejection, coupled with a lack of legal protections and a lack of anti-discrimination and anti-bullying protections in schools, means LGBTQ youth continue to be among the most at-risk youth populations in America. LGBTQ young people—specifically transgender youth—are disproportionately more likely to experience homelessness, experience discrimination and bullying in schools, suffer from depression, and experience suicidal ideation, and these risks are exacerbated the more transgender young people experience rejection. However, through family and community acceptance and support, nurturing strong connections to people who care, and establishing a positive sense of identity as a transgender person, parents and communities can help foster and strengthen resilience in transgender and gender diverse young people.

"Many people don’t understand what it means to be transgender or gender diverse, so some parents and friends have questions or struggle at first,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of the Movement Advancement Project. “It’s critical for families to know that their words and actions can make the difference between a happy, healthy, thriving child—or one at greatly elevated risk of depression, suicidal behavior, and other harmful outcomes. Too many families, and the lives of too many transgender children, have been devastated by parents who reject these children or try to force them to be someone they’re not. The ‘Advancing Acceptance’ campaign provides data and resources to help families gain understanding, and learn how they can support their transgender or gender diverse child in ways that help them succeed and thrive.”   

The campaign includes the debut of a new ad called “Journeys: The Berman-Ruth & Wylie Families,” which showcases the Berman-Ruth family and their close family friends, the Wylie family, discussing how they have supported their son, Xander, a transgender boy, through his transition. 

Click here to watch “Journeys: The Berman-Ruth & Wylie Families.”

The video has also been added to the Biden Foundation’s family and community acceptance campaign— “As You Are”—which raises awareness of the importance of acceptance in the lives of LGBTQ young people. Supporters who wish to take action—including LGBTQ youth, parents, siblings, educators, social service providers, coaches, and others—are encouraged to submit stories to the “As You Are” campaign to help educate the broader public about the critical importance of affirming, accepting, and supporting LGBTQ young people, and the harms these youth face when their families and communities reject them. The Biden Foundation is sharing these stories with the hope that they will serve to inspire, to create communities, to heal families, and to change the broader culture to ensure a bright future for all LGBTQ young people.

"Family and community acceptance are key components to the work we do at the Biden Foundation to advance equality for LGBTQ people," said Emily Hecht-McGowan, director for LGBTQ equality at the Biden Foundation. "We were thrilled to partner with MAP and Gender Spectrum for 'Advancing Acceptance' to continue promoting a culture of acceptance and affirmation. Families like the Wileys and Berman-Ruths are a beautiful and necessary example of how acceptance can and should look in every home and community across America." 

As part of the “Advancing Acceptance” public education campaign, MAP, the Biden Foundation, and Gender Spectrum released new resources including a new infographic, a clearinghouse of helpful links, tips for advancing the conversation, and policy recommendations geared toward promoting acceptance within families and communities of transgender and gender diverse youth. Learn more at

"We are proud to partner with the Biden Foundation and MAP in this effort to highlight the importance of support for transgender and gender diverse youth," said Lisa Kenney, executive director of Gender Spectrum, who will be speaking on gender to members of Congress and their staff in D.C. tomorrow. "We know that all children are affected by harmful gender stereotypes, and strict gender roles are especially challenging for transgender youth. This new video and the stories highlighted in the ‘As You Are’ campaign are vital reminders that providing support to transgender and gender diverse youth is essential in helping them become their full, authentic selves."

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About MAP 
MAP's mission is to provide independent and rigorous research, insight, and communications that help speed equality and opportunity for all. MAP works to ensure that all people have a fair chance to pursue health and happiness, earn a living, take care of the ones they love, be safe in their communities, and participate in civic life.

About the Biden Foundation
The Biden Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation established to carry on Vice President and Dr. Biden’s lifelong commitment to public service. By leveraging existing networks and institutions to support, serve, and advocate for LGBTQ communities, the foundation is dedicated to working toward a future where all people are equal in dignity and opportunity. For up-to-date information on the Biden Foundation, visit or follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

About Gender Spectrum
Gender Spectrum works to create a gender inclusive world so all children and youth can develop their full, authentic selves. We work with youth, parents and families, youth-serving professionals, corporations, government and other institutions, and others to bring greater gender understanding and inclusion. 

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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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