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Mentoring Trans and Non-binary Youth

December 29, 2019

An Interview with Dani Araya – Coordinator, Trans Youth Mentorship Program

The 519’s Trans Youth Mentorship Program (TYMP) provides meaningful skills and training to trans, two-spirit, non-binary, and gender diverse youth to improve employability. Some of the training in the program includes skills related to anti-oppression, team-building skills, harm reduction, creative facilitation, public speaking, conflict resolution, event planning, and networking.

Dani Araya is the Program Co-ordinator for TYMP and an Education and Training Specialist at The 519. Eleven years ago, she herself was a participant in a drop-in mentorship program for trans youth at The 519. She also volunteered for The 519 before eventually joining the team as a staff member a few years later.

Dani offers some unique insights into the Trans Youth Mentorship Program.

How is this program different than any other youth mentorship program?

Mentorship for trans youth is different than the traditional youth mentorship model, as the barriers experienced by trans and non-binary youth are different. This program focuses on personal and professional development that builds on people’s existing lived experiences. TYMP is designed to be a model that is responsive to the needs of participants and involves providing holistic support.

Why is this program so important?

Programs like TYMP need to continue and grow because so many trans youth need this support, and there aren’t similar opportunities available. To navigate through the pervasive barriers to education, employment, and housing that our communities experience, we need programs that can support them so they are able to realize their gifts and succeed in their personal and professional lives.

What does the success of the program mean to you?

For me, the success of the program is seeing our alumni making progress in their professional lives and coming back to the program to deliver workshops to the current participants.

What is your vision for this program in the coming years?

I hope that this program expands each year and supports our participants to become youth leaders and agents of change. We need to have more trans leaders across various sectors so we have more role models and mentors for trans and non-binary youth. My dream is to witness our program participants smash systemic barriers to education and employment and support sustainable systemic change. I hope to see more such programs based on the ideals of collective care and wish for a world in which everyone has access to equitable opportunities to succeed.