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New website offers resources for trans youth in Maryland

Two organizations are collaborating to provide Maryland-specific resources for transgender youth and their families grappling with the legal system.

Prompted by a request from PFLAG, legal services organization FreeState Legal created trans*youth@md, a website meant to address legal questions frequently asked by transgender minors and their parents.

"We want to help parents figure out what they have to do, what they can do to protect their children," said Catherine Hyde, the transgender coordinator for PFLAG's Howard County chapter and a member of PFLAG's national board of directors.

The site's creation was prompted by an increase in transgender visibility over the last five years. Hyde created a support group for parents of transgender youth five years ago, and she said it has grown significantly as transgender issues have become more visible.

"As parents move through their journey from shock and into acceptance and celebration of their kids, more and more parents are coming to me and asking, 'How do I change my kid's name? How do I change the gender marker?'"

Answers to both questions are currently available on the site, which both Hyde and FreeState executive director Aaron Merki said is still in development. How-to guides offer information on the specific Maryland agencies that handle the various legal issues related to an individual's transition.

Still, because the experiences of families working to legally reflect a child's transition can be widely different, Hyde said she expects the site will also integrate parents' personal stories to be used as a guide to others.

"Understanding which offices are easier to deal with is hugely helpful," she said.

"I've heard a story about one family who went to a [Maryland Vehicle Administration] office," Hyde added, "and the person there said, 'We don't get people like that here.' And that mom had to say 'You do. We're here.' So it can be different from one person to the next."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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