Upcoming Twitch fundraiser will bring books to trans teens through William Way

Copies of the book
Copies of "Trans Teen Survival Guide," packed and ready to be shipped.

“My daughter has been out five years,” said Shea Coffey, a trans woman who now runs Medway Pride Radio, a station based in Rochester, England. “It was the reception my daughter received and the love and understanding and acceptance that made me go, ‘Actually, if a nine-year-old can do this, a 45-year-old can do this.’”

Shea lacked access to language and information about trans experiences in her younger years.

“Undoubtedly, the resources weren’t there,” she said. “And, to be honest, the resources often still aren’t there.” She underlined that even though people are now more familiar with the terms that describe trans identity, it doesn’t mean that trans kids have the support they need to thrive or that allies understand how to show up for them.

That’s why Shea is determined to get more queer-affirming books into the hands of trans kids and their families across the world. “Trans Teen Survival Guide,” a book by Owl and Fox Fisher, is a starting point for trans youth and cis people who want to support them — acting as a bridge that connects readers across generations and lived experiences, explained Shea. She’d initially found the book herself then realized her daughter was already reading it.

The book includes self-care tips for dealing with dysphoria and other mental health concerns, information about using gender-affirming prosthetics, and other practical advice to answer the questions of trans people and those who want to support them.

“It’s about giving them tools to have discussions,” she said. To do that, they need access to reliable information and empowered to know they’re safe enough to talk about these topics out loud.

Despite growing numbers of people wanting to be supportive of their trans neighbors in the United Kingdom, Shea noted that harmful rhetoric about trans people can be difficult to endure. That hostility comes from a very loud and vocal minority, she explained, fueled by conservative political agendas — much like it is here in the United States.

England’s Prime Minister, who has continually mocked trans people, recently made anti-trans comments during a Parliament discussion on the same day the mother of Brianna Ghey — a 16-year-old trans girl who was murdered during a hate crime — was attending the session.

National guidelines for trans students in England emphasize some of the anti-trans language and policies that conservatives across the United States lobby for. Shea feels a sense of camaraderie among LGBTQ+ people and allies who have come together in an international community to support one another in light of these encounters with hatred.

“I started last year going to the service to a funeral of a suicide of a 13-year-old trans child,” Shea said. “And I ended last year by going to the funeral of a 14-year-old trans-child. If we were honestly going to say that the language and attitude [of our leaders and communities] had played no part in either of those suicides, we’d be kidding ourselves.”

“I really wanted to do something to change the script,” said Shea, who launched a campaign to distribute “Trans Teen Survival Guide” to schools and libraries shortly after that first loss.

Elizabeth is on the right and appears to have taken the photo, which is a selfie. They wear a black top and a camera strap around their neck. Shea is on the left with sunglasses and a white tee shirt. They are both light skinned with blonde hair.

Shea’s older daughter Elizabeth took to the internet — a place they find connection with people across continents — to host a fundraiser on Twitch.

“She’s one of the biggest allies I’ve ever come across,” Shea said about Elizabeth, who lovingly supports their mom and sister but doesn’t personally identify as trans.

During the first Twitch stream last year, Elizabeth raised enough money to fund the distribution of more than 1,200 books. The pair gave them out to schools and libraries. They were surprised to also receive interest from drama groups, sports clubs, music teachers and medical professionals — and they were excited to expand their reach.

This year’s fundraising goal is to add at least another £1,000 (about $1,258 in American dollars) with hopes that the event will raise even more. Proceeds will benefit trans kids in the Philadelphia area through a partnership with the William Way Community Center — which will serve as a hub to distribute the books to local schools and organizations.

“Trans Teen Survival Guide” is just one of the titles that will be given out. “Have Pride,” a book for tweens by Stella Caldwell that explores the history of the LGBTQ+ community, will also be distributed as well as Juno Dawson’s “This Book is Gay,” an uncensored and humorous “instruction manual” for folks who have come out or love someone who has.

During the 12-hour stream, Elizabeth, whose Twitch username is ElizabethCoffee, will play “Dead by Daylight,” a survival horror game they often stream, and others — including “Wylde Flowers,” a cozy game with strong LGBTQ+ representation.

“It’s light hearted, but we can have a serious talk,” they said. The vibe on their channel is friendly and cozy, but like a lot of Twitch streams, it can get a bit shouty and chaotic too.

Elizabeth hasn’t encountered a lot of anti-queer trolling, but moderators will be participating to ensure the event is safe and healthy for everyone. Elizabeth often talks about LGBTQ+ issues on their channel, and they’ll use the fundraiser as an opportunity to be an advocate for queer people.

“I try and hold that space,” they said. “If someone wants to have a discussion or ask questions about LGBT issues, then we’ll do that.”

If the initiative reaches £1200 (about $1,510) in donations, Elizabeth will paint themself green and dress up to cosplay Scoot — their least favorite character in “Animal Crossing.” At £1500 (about $1,888), they’ll play “Fortnite” — a game highly requested by their viewers which Elizabeth has been avoiding. Other incentives include special giveaways — including game codes and two pieces of original art provided by Owl Fisher.

Because some viewers have donated ahead of the stream, some of the incentives have already been unlocked — including the ability to change and hinder Elizabeth’s experience of “Dead by Daylight,” ban the use of specific words conversationally, and enable custom emojis.

Viewers can tune into the fun on Feb. 18 from 10 a.m to 10 p.m. EST. Those who can’t make it can still make a donation to ensure as many books as possible can be sent to Philadelphia.
The partnership with William Way is the first the mother-daughter duo has made outside of the UK, and future fundraisers will benefit people in cities across the US and in other countries.

“We’re going through some of the same things that America is going through as a community,” said Shea. “So I desperately wanted to show some form of solidarity.”

To learn more about ElizabethCoffee’s Twitch fundraiser or to watch the stream on Feb. 18, visit https://www.twitch.tv/elizabethcoffee.

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