The Express spoke with Shauna Kinch, a transgender youth counsellor who will be offering her services in Vanderhoof.
Q: What does your counselling job entail and who constitute as your clients?
A: My clients are mostly trans youth between the ages of 14-21. I offer support through the transition process which is a requirement, and I hold youth group meet-ups so youth can meet others going through the same thing.
Q: Why did you start working with trans youth?
A: I was presented with the opportunity and I decided to take a chance even though I had no prior knowledge or education. Other than that, I have a Diploma in Professional Counselling specializing in family and community counselling.
Q: What are some struggles you see in the current landscape for trans youth. Taking into consideration the communities you cover?
A: Definitely a lack of resources and education surrounding the LGBTQ+ community. I think people are not too sure, so the stigma is still very much an issue.
Q: What do you hope to achieve in Vanderhoof?
A: I hope to get more youth out to group sessions and help get some more resources available whether it’s through access to resources, counselling, or via support groups.
Q: What kind of support groups do you have available in Vanderhoof? When is the next meeting? How can perspective clients get in touch with you?
A: Right now, I have started an LGBTQ2S (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Two-Spirited) group meet-up. I hold them once a month and the next one is Nov. 23 from 12pm until 2pm at the Vanderhoof Youth Centre. For more information they can email me email@example.com or access my page via Facebook.
Q: Do you think yours is a niche market right now? Why?
A: I do feel there’s a niche there. We need more counsellors to be available for this community of youth, who are willing to break the barriers surrounding LGBTQ+ individuals. Having friendly open places where there’s acceptance and support is huge. There doesn’t seem to be enough.
Q: Some advice you would like to give to parents who have kids that are transitioning?
A: Get educated. Set an appointment with someone who is knowledgeable in the subject, add yourself to support groups, talk with trans care B.C. specifically Blue Pine Clinic in Prince George, who specialize in this. Knowledge is key to supporting your youth through the transition. It also paves a way to a healthy mindset for that individual.
Q: What kind of district or municipal help you need for achieving your purposes?
A: It would be wonderful for grants to be available to help fund activities within the community. Would be nice to offer more in the way of accessing workshops and clinics for further support and education.
Q: Who are you collaborating with in Vanderhoof?
A: Carrier Sekani opened up their youth group space for me to use for the group meet-ups. That was wonderful. I also am collaborating with the local surrounding communities to organize banding together and holding work shops for not only the youth but for people such as myself who would like to expand my knowledge.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: I also have started pages on Facebook for a variety of groups. Vanderhoof, Quesnel, and for parents of youth in both the communities and surrounding areas. If anyone is interested email me or message me and I can help navigate them to the places they need to access those groups.
Shauna Kinch has worked as trans youth counsellor for two years in Quesnel. She is affiliated to Blue Pine Clinic in Prince George, who offer transgender services across B.C.