Moving to a new country raises lots of questions and concerns, along with excitement. And, trans people often encounter additional barriers around identity and accessibility when settling in Canada.
So, the settlement organization MOSAIC created an online
Trans Newcomers Resource Hub to make resources more accessible, with support from a Trans Care BC community grant.
Launched in February 2019, the hub is an online community where newcomer transgender folks (refugee claimants, refugees, protected persons, immigrants, work/study permit holders, and anyone who feels new to B.C.) can access settlement-related information and resources, find peers and mentors, and build a network of support.
Being accessible online was key, said Nova Chamberlin, a manager with the project at MOSAIC.
"These online services don't replace in-person supports, but they're one way to start bridging the gap for those who don't live near service options, and for people who feel more comfortable learning and asking questions online, from the comfort of their homes," she said.
MOSAIC had been hearing from the community that trans newcomers can find it hard to navigate their identity in B.C., especially when coming from a country where being trans is even more dangerous and difficult, Nova explained.
"While it's not possible to generalize all newcomers' experiences, we often hear that trans newcomers may be struggling to overcome things like internalized transphobia and identity challenges, which can make it hard for them to engage with communities and services in Canada," said Nova.
For example, the terminology might sound new to trans folks not from North America, or for those whose first language is not English. The hub provides a glossary to help newcomers navigate these terms, explaining how they're commonly used in B.C.
The hub was thoughtfully co-created with peer consultants and volunteers who have direct experiences with trans settlement. They used focus groups, brainstorming sessions and community consultations to curate resources including safety tips, and advice on moving and settling.
This summer, the hub also added a blog section, which will cover timely topics and continue building online community and reduce isolation, by helping both authors and readers connect and share experiences.
As an exciting next step, the full content of hub will now be translated into at least five languages, making the hub even more accessible and reducing language barriers for trans people considering moving to B.C.
Trans Care BC works alongside peers and community members to improve equitable access to information, resources, and supports for peer-led and gender-affirming support services across British Columbia.
Our program defines "peer" as trans, gender diverse, and Two-Spirit community members including children, youth, and adults, as well as their parents/caregivers, families, and loved ones. Peer support refers to the emotional and practical support and connection between people who share a common experience. Peer support provides an enriching opportunity to engage in knowledge exchange, resource sharing, social connection, mentorship, and personal growth.
We recognize that community partners, such as non-profit organizations and support service agencies, play an important collaborative role in supporting the development and sustainability of community peer supports.
For more information on how Trans Care BC helps connect British Columbians to gender-affirming and wellness supports as close to home as possible, please visit transcarebc.ca/care-support.