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Creating a Safe Place for Youth on the Gender Continuum

Genderbread person

All Nexus sites and services aim to create a safe place for youth on the gender continuum of identity, expression, and biological sex, including youth who are going through transition, transgender, and gender non-conforming youth.

Our youth-guided practices honor youth preferences and requests about daily care and interventions. We are committed to respecting the name, pronoun preference, and gender expressions of each youth we care for.

Nexus gender-continuum sensitivity means staff and foster parents are committed to the following:

  • Understanding the range of gender expressions and differences in desire for and access to educational services and knowledge about surgical or hormonal interventions, and use if approved through legal guardians.
  • Recognizing distinctions between gender identity and sexual orientation, and understand differences (and similarities) in health care delivery needs.
  • Working to discover local expertise, protocols, and access to collaboration and referral.
  • Establishing policies to make our agency more gender-continuum friendly.

Direct care staff and foster parents are trained to understand the unique trauma implications of this population, including their heightened risks of the following:

  • Rejected by parents and/or kicked out of their homes;
  • Experienced discrimination/harassment in school and on the streets;
  • Experienced hate violence and domestic violence;
  • Persecuted for exerting their basic rights;
  • Experienced abusive treatment by law enforcement;
  • Experienced public humiliation, ridicule, marginalization, and exclusion.

Ongoing staff education efforts help define how gender expression may change over time, explores stereotypes, reinforces that Nexus values safety regardless of gender, generates group conversations and sessions, and provides clear definitions of how to treat youth on the gender continuum with respect.

Strategies focus on understanding terms and definitions, honoring the self-identification of youth, correcting others’ negative judgments or assumptions, and advocating for youth immediately and clearly when any form of harassment occurs.

Our policies are based on the fundamentals of respect, language, confidentiality, documentation, dress code, shower/restroom safety, intake process, harassment policies, and written policies. These practices are detailed below.

Respect

Nexus staff and foster parents will not make assumptions about sexuality or transition goals of youth on the gender continuum. We will not question a youth’s gender identity directly or indirectly, and we will honor the presenting gender. It is our belief that people are who they say they are, and should be treated as such.

Intake Process

Our intake process will be gender-continuum friendly. We will refer to youth using their chosen name, and will reference their chosen name along with their legal name on all documentation. If we must use a pronoun in our documentation, we must use a youth’s legal pronoun, but we can add a sentence in our documentation that also clarifies the wishes of the client.

Documentation

We recognize that changing a name and gender is a lengthy process requiring fees and court. Therefore, even though we will use the youth’s chosen name in practice, we will list a youth’s chosen name, given name, and last name on all documentation. We will also provide clear communication with medical professionals and law enforcement regarding a youth’s chosen, given, and legal names.

Dress Code

Our dress codes will not be gender-specific.

Bathroom/Shower Safety

Our facilities will ensure bathroom and shower safety for youth on the gender continuum.

Harassment Policies

Our staff will intervene immediately when youth on the gender continuum are harassed by anti-gay or transgender language, inappropriate stories/jokes, sexual gestures, intentional use of the wrong pronoun or name, inappropriate questions or accusations about their body, or other forms of harassment. Our policies will indicate consequences for repeated harassing behavior.


For more information on Nexus treatment plans for youth on the gender continuum, please contact us directly.


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