Transgender Day of Remembrance 2016

Kathryn Gonzales, our Operations and Programs Director delivered a powerfully emotional speech at tonight's Transgender Day of Remembrance.

A full transcript of her speech is available below.

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Hello, my name is Kathryn Gonzales and I am the Operations & Programs Director at Out Youth.
On behalf of the youth, board of directors, and staff of Out Youth, I want to express how humbled and honored we are to support this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Out Youth was founded in 1990 and has served youth of all sexual orientations and gender identities across Central Texas for 26 years. Out Youth is best known for our free individual and family counseling as well as our free and confidential HIV & STI testing, but what we do best is offer youth a place that they can feel at home, a place of warmth and peace. And, by extension, our youth become part of a family that loves, acknowledges, and accepts them for exactly who they are.

As this night approached again this year, I was reminded yet again of my desperate wish, a hope for a day when there are no names on the list.

Yet each year I arrive and sit here, awash in names and grief.

Certainly, I grieve for the loss of those we honor tonight, taken from us by horrific acts of violence.

But I also find myself grieving for the want of memory.

I grieve because I cannot remember them, for all I have been left with are their names and the reverberating silence of their absence.

I grieve because I will never delight in knowing them, at least in this lifetime. I will never know their kindness, their compassion, the unique and captivating beauty of their souls.

And while I may never meet them, I am certain of my love for them. Each and every one. All of those we have lost in years past, and those we seem all but certain lose in the years to come.

So let this be my vow, that my grief will stand as a testament to their lives, a renewed commitment to end this violence, for as long as I am here I will love them and work in honor of their memory in hopes for a day without names.

Bullying and LGBTQ+ Youth

Youth of all sexual orientations and gender expressions can face verbal and physical harassment throughout their school day. In a 2011 national survey of LGBTQ+ youth, 82% said they had been verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation, 38% were physically harassed, and 18% were physically assaulted. Nearly 64% of students reported feeling unsafe because of their sexual orientation.

Repeated instances of bullying can create an environment that is not conducive to learning or academic success. Research shows that LGBTQ+ students who experience harassment have higher levels of depression and anxiety, as well as increased absenteeism. Some choose to drop out of school entirely.

Fortunately, available research also suggests that school safety is a protective factor for LGBTQ+ youth. School administrators need to assess their school environments to ensure they are fostering a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ students. All staff should be trained to support LGBTQ+ students, LGBTQ+ history could be incorporated into lesson plans, and safe spaces should be designated throughout the school. Students often report feeling safer when they feel they are protected by teachers, school administrators, and staff. Resources for creating safer school environments for LGBTQ+ youth can be found at:

Further, establishing social organizations such as Gender and Sexuality Alliances ( and psycho-educational support groups that expand school-based supports for LGBT youth can have a dramatic impact upon student well-being and academic outcomes.

Out Youth is currently partnering with Communities In Schools of Central Texas to provide such support groups in 5 area schools this fall, with plans to expand into at least 9 schools by the fall of 2017. This aligns with the overall mission of Out Youth to promote the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social well- being of LGBTQ+ youth so that they can openly and safely explore and affirm their identities.

Creating a Circle of Support for Families of Out Youth

Positive parental and familial relationships are crucial for all youth. For LGBTQ+ youth in particular, families can play a critical role in reducing risks and promoting well-being.

Since youth can express a clear sense of gender identity at various ages, there is greater awareness among some families that an adolescent might be transgender. As a result, more parents are seeking accurate information about gender development and sources of support. [1]

The Out Youth Family Circle of Support aims to give parents and caregivers of trans-identified youth a forum for sharing, support and education. Family members gather on Sunday evenings for six weeks to discuss their hopes and concerns, and to receive psycho-education related to gender identity.

The Family Circle of Support is facilitated by mental health clinicians with experience in family therapy in the context of the LGBTQ+ community. Jessica Fish, co-facilitator of the group this Fall, is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin.

Some of the most meaningful moments as a facilitator is seeing how parents, grandparents and other family members grow in their time during group and how they come to better understand and support their youth through that process.
— Jessica Fish, Co-Facilitator of the Family Circle of Support

“It's amazing to see how dedicated these parents are to showing support and affirmation for their youth," said Jessica, a facilitator for the Circle of Support. “Some of the most meaningful moments as a facilitator is seeing how parents, grandparents and other family members grow in their time during group and how they come to better understand and support their youth through that process. We talk a lot about how to be supportive of our youth by affirming their identities, and letting explore who they are at a very important time in their lives.”

“What I found most helpful was to hear the stories of other families and where they were in their journey,” said Pat, a parent who recently attended a Circle of Support meeting. “To hear parents that seemed to be further along in their journey than myself and get their feedback on how they dealt with their child coming out as transgender. Although my child has only been out to me since March of this year, I feel I have come a long way with not only that but with all that a parent of a transgender youth has to go through.” 

In addition to the Family Circle of Support, Out Youth is implementing innovative ways to connect with the families of the youth we serve.

In December, Out Youth plans to host a panel consisting of parents of transgender youth as well as a local medical provider who specializes in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for transgender clients. This combination of personal experience and professional expertise aims to help parents and guardians feel less alone and leave better informed, so they can best support their child.

The next round of the Family Circle of Support group will start in January of 2017.

For more information about the Family Circle of Support or clinical services at Out Youth, please contact Sarah Kapostasy, Clinical Director, at

[1] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, A Practitioner’s Resource Guide: Helping Families to Support Their LGBT Children. HHS Publication No. PEP14-LGBTKIDS. Rockville, MD: 201

Out Youth Announces StandOUT Partners Giving Circle

In August, Out Youth announced our new donor appreciation program – the Out Youth StandOUT Partners giving circle.  

Out Youth is fortunate to have the support of so many community members, and we would not be able to provide the life-saving services we offer our youth without our generous donors.  As a way to recognize donors who give $1,000 or more in a calendar year, we have established this new initiative to keep donors more connected to the organization, and make sure we stay more connected to our donors.

StandOUT Partners will gather a few times a year at special events to hear directly from the staff, our youth and our board of directors.  We will share the latest news about Out Youth, as well to listen to donors to make sure we’re addressing their goals and desires. 

If you’re a StandOUT Partner – thank you. If you’d like to become a StandOUT Partner, contact us at or call us at 512-419-1233. We’d love to talk to you. 

From the 2016 Glitz Gala Chair

Four years ago, I volunteered to assist with Out Youth’s fall event Glitz. A dear friend had introduced me to the organization and after meeting with staff members Aubrey Wilkerson and Kathryn Gonzales, I quickly saw the dedication and love that surround Out Youth’s mission; to promote the well-being of sexual and gender minority youth so they can safely explore and affirm their identities. I was “in” and eager to lend a hand.

From that moment forward, volunteering with Out Youth has been nothing short of an amazing experience. I have watched an organization grow to serve more and more youth, and I have met incredible community members who, like me, understand the importance of and need for Out Youth. In 2015, I joined the Board of Directors and it has been a privilege collaborating with this group as we aim to empower and protect our youth. 

Now, four years later, volunteered for numerous Out Youth events, I am chairing Glitz 2016.  I am fortunate to have assembled a fabulous committee who are going to make this year’s Glitz the most talked about event of the fall. We promise awesome auction items and delicious food and drink. This committee is making me look good.

I encourage you to attend Glitz, to join me in support of a house that helps so many. Every donation, every dollar, positively impacts the organization and youth we serve. It takes many dedicated friends and businesses for Out Youth to continue its mission. So please join me on Saturday, October 22 and enjoy a fabulous night out while enriching the life of another.