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Regional Community Discussions on Transgender Issues Begin

Children, Youth & Family Consortium Staff

On Tuesday, January 24, the University of Minnesota Extension Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC) held the first in a series of professional development events focused on transgender youth.

At this inaugural event of the 2017 Lessons from the Field series, titled Meeting the Needs of Transgender Youth, 48 participants came together at the Extension Andover Regional Office. Attendees represented a cross-section of community, including professionals working at Extension as well as at schools, libraries, and social service agencies. Those in attendance got to hear from three experts in their fields as well as engage in small group discussions around professional practices and empathy building.

women around a table

Karen Shirer, University of Minnesota Extension associate dean for family development (second from left) leans in during a small group discussion.

CYFC Scholar in Residence Jenifer McGuire, Ph.D., covered many topics, such as gender terminology, the social realities of growing up transgender, the benefits of having larger social systems that care for all people (including transgender youth), and her research on transgender issues. Extension SNAP-Ed Educator Nathan Hesse discussed nutritional challenges for those on the margins and nutritional concerns that are more common in transgender youth populations.

man pointing to a powerpoint slide
Nathan Hesse, Extension nutrition educator,
covered nutrition-related topics such as food insecurity.

And one of CYFC’s educators, Cari Michaels, MPH, discussed a public health approach to mental health on a population level with applications to the smaller subset of the population that is transgender. All three presenters spoke to common dichotomies that we as a society often make and how these oversimplifications can create roadblocks to understanding each other.

This event was just the first in a series that will be unfolding over the coming months. Lessons from the Field: Meeting the Needs of Transgender Youth is coming to Minneapolis, Morris, Saint Cloud, Rochester, and Grand Rapids this winter and spring. If you are interested in attending one of these events, you can register on our website: The events run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., are free, include lunch, and offer professional development certificates.

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