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Vital Signs | Respecting pronouns can help save lives

While many are celebrating the strengths and gifts of the LGBTQ+ community during Pride month in June, it is important to remember that when it comes to transgender and nonbinary (TGNB) individuals, using the proper pronouns can actually save lives.

According to Community Commons, a staggering 82% of TGNB individuals have seriously contemplated suicide. TGNB individuals may face bullying and harassment, and “frequently grapple with a life-threatening combination of increased mental health struggles and difficulty accessing appropriate medical care due to under-educated physicians, insurance coverage complications, and discrimination.”

Using a person’s proper pronouns and chosen name has been proven to directly benefit the health and well-being of TGNB people. This is especially pronounced for gender-expansive youths, who often have less autonomy and fewer resources than adults. For adults with TGNB young people in their lives, it is important to recognize that while using new pronouns may feel unusual, it can be lifesaving.

Research shows that TGNB youths who can safely use their chosen names at school, home, work and with friends experience a significant improvement in health outcomes, when compared to youths who are not supported in this way. The benefits of using a young person’s chosen name include:

71% fewer symptoms of severe depression

34% decrease in suicidal thoughts

65% decrease in suicidal attempts.

If you are an adult looking for ways to support a TGNB young person, it is important to remember that while you may feel uncertain, what matters most is safety, support and validation for young people. Listening to young people, being willing to make mistakes and be accountable, and practicing use of a person’s pronouns while visualizing them are steps that anyone can take. Check out the following websites for more information:

The Trevor Project also has a specific guide on how to be a TGNB ally:

Local Pride events

during June6 p.m. Thursday: Pride Book Event with Chris Glendenning at The Center at Belvedere.

9-11 p.m. June 23: University of Virginia Department of Astronomy is hosting its first Pride Night at McCormick Observatory. Dr. Sean Johnson from the University of Michigan will speak about his research and experiences as a queer astronomer. This is a free, family-friendly event.

10 a.m. June 25: Pride Worship Service at Sojourners Church. Community members of all faiths are invited to a special Pride-centered service, featuring a message from the Coalition’s Public Awareness Committee member, Jason Elliott, followed by a light picnic on the church grounds. Can’t come in person? Watch the live feed on Sojourners Facebook page.

6 p.m. June 26: Memorial to Enslaved Laborers Tour with Out and About LGBTQ+ Social Group. This guided tour at UVa offers a history of enslaved laborers’ resistance and resilience at UVa and of the advocacy by community members to fully acknowledge and memorialize their labor.

The Out and About LGBTQ+ Social Group, based in the Charlottesville area, organizes various monthly gatherings, including some alcohol-free events suitable for individuals younger than 21 or who are part of the recovery community. Click here for a list of 10 LGBTQ+ spaces to visit locally.

LGBTQ+ behavioral

health services11 a.m. Thursdays: LGTBQ+ Support Group at Region Ten’s Blue Ridge Center. This new support group meets weekly and is open to anyone in the community; a person does NOT need to be receiving services at Region Ten in order to attend.

6 p.m. Wednesdays: Queer Support Group with On Our Own. This group is open to any LGBTQ+ adult experiencing challenges with mental health, substance use disorder or trauma.

11 a.m. Thursdays, beginning Thursday: LGBTQ+ Support, Empowerment and Processing Group at Region Ten’s Blue Ridge Center.

6 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month: C’ville Trans Women Circle of Support Group at The Women’s Initiative. Email for information and registration.

5:30-7:30 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month: PFLAG Trans Families and Trans Peer Groups. For more information on the Trans Families Group, email For the Trans Peer Group, email


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