Trans Minors Rights advocates for needs of PA trans youth

The trans pride flag
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

When Chriss Nelson founded Trans Minors Rights in 2018, the goal was to form a statewide advocacy organization. While the group’s recent activity has focused primarily on Lancaster, Berks and Bucks counties, Nelson still plans to expand the organization’s work throughout Pennsylvania.

According to Trans Minors Rights’ mission statement, “Our goal is to empower transgender youth by educating our communities on issues facing young transgender people and providing youth with the knowledge and tools they need to combat gender dysphoria.”

Nelson was inspired to start the organization after learning about the death of 17-year-old Leelah Alcorn, who took her own life because she felt she would never be allowed to undergo the transition she needed. In her final note, Alcorn pleaded, “Fix society. Please.”

In the beginning, Nelson, who also serves as the group’s president, was focused on a highly controversial issue: supporting a petition in favor of allowing kids as young as 14 access to puberty blockers without parental consent or notification. Nelson is fully aware that right-wing anti-trans activists vociferously oppose puberty blockers, including them among other forms of gender-affirming care that they argue are injurious to kids they believe are merely confused.

“Let me be clear,” they said. “I’m not talking about anything surgical or permanent. Laws allow kids as young as 14 access to birth control and mental health care without parental notification. And like birth control, the effects of puberty blockers are reversible.”

In a statement on their website, Trans Minors Rights announced “We achieved our goal of 4,000 signatures on our official petition to the Pennsylvania Congress! This will encourage them to pass a law protecting the confidentiality of transgender minors (age 14+) and allowing these minors to legally obtain puberty blockers without requiring consent from a parent or guardian.”

More recently, the organization has participated in a program to provide binders and tuck kits to trans youth, who often have difficulty accessing these items. Nelson is also working on a program to educate doctors and other health care providers on the needs of trans youth.

“Imagine how a trans kid feels not having anyone to answer their questions or concerns,” Nelson said. “They can’t talk to their doctor because doctors too often have no training or experience dealing with trans issues and needs. It’s still very rare that these issues are dealt with in medical schools.”

Nelson hopes to assemble a group of trans youth who can go into the field and educate doctors and other health care providers about what they need in terms of medical information and care. Nelson also hopes to enlist adult health care providers with experience in this issue to help provide guidance as to what doctors need to know.

As Trans Minors Rights strives to expand their efforts throughout Pennsylvania, they are seeking other like-minded LGBTQ+ organizations to cooperate with — a strength in numbers strategy. They’ve recently entered an alliance with the Pennsylvania Coalition for Trans Youth, helping to expand the effectiveness of their work.

Nelson perceives a great immediacy in the needs expressed by her constituency. 

“I do feel a sense of urgency, especially given the high rates of suicide among the trans youth community,” they said

According to a recent report by the Trevor Project, Age of Gender Identity Outness and Suicide Risk, that sense of urgency is justified. The Trevor Project found that, among those who came out before the age of 13, 62% of transgender and nonbinary youth considered suicide, while 29% actually attempted it. Among those who came out after 13, 51% considered suicide, while 17% attempted it.

For more information on Trans Minors Rights, visit

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