Become a 'Trans Santa' and Support Trans Youth in Need During the Holidays

Santa hat with transgender flag colors

During the holiday season, it’s not uncommon to see giving initiatives that allow you to “adopt a family” or donate toys  to children in need. While these are awesome ways to give back every year, there are still tons of folks from different communities who could use a little extra love.

Take LGBTQ+ youth (specifically transgender youth), for example. These young people face extraordinary risk, as anti-trans legislation and social isolation can lead to unsafe conditions in abusive or unstable housing situations. 

Trans youth are the focus of increasingly volatile legislative attacks, and in 2023 alone, state legislatures across the U.S. introduced over 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, according to a legislative tracker from the ACLU

These bills often attempt to make healthcare for trans youth a crime, exclude trans youth from participating in sports, target parents of trans youth, perpetuate harmful stigmas, and more.

The damage of these anti-trans bills — and the sociopolitical narrative surrounding trans people — is deadly. In fact, 42% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth, according to the Trevor Project. 

But the good news is that we can point to a clear solution. Again, according to the Trevor Project, LGBTQ+ youth who had access to spaces that affirmed their sexual orientation and gender identity reported lower rates of attempting suicide.

What better gift to give young trans folks this year, than the affirmation, support, and love they truly deserve? 

Meet Trans Santa.

What is Trans Santa?

Trans Santa takes the “adopt a family” approach and provides gifts to transgender youth in need  — safely and anonymously. 

The organization is a mutual aid social media campaign that connects “Santas” everywhere with trans youth in need. The goal is to support trans and non-binary youth who are houseless, in foster care, or otherwise without vital support by giving them the gifts they want and the affirmation they need from anonymous and safe donors all over the world. 

If you’ve been looking to step up your game as a trans ally, this might be the solution.

“We want to show trans young people that they are loved, supported, and have a family of people around the world who care about them and want them to succeed,” the Trans Santa website reads.

“Transness is so beautiful and we are celebrating our magic!”

The organization is funded through nonprofit Allies in Arts, which supports BIPOC, women, and LGBTQ+ artists who are underrepresented in creative industries. 

Trans Santa operates year-round in support of trans youth, but its main initiative is a large Christmas project for trans and non-binary youth under 24.

How does Trans Santa work?

During the holiday season, Trans Santa opens applications to trans folks under age 24. Applicants submit their first names, ages, and information (like an email address and what state or country they are from), as well as a handwritten “letter to Santa” and a link to their wishlist.

A letter to Trans Santa
Photo courtesy of Trans Santa

After the application window closes (this year, the deadline is December 8), the organization posts submissions on its social media pages so followers and “Santas” can find each individual’s Amazon registry and anonymously buy the things they’ve asked for.

The process is simple and direct so supporters know that their goods will be sent directly to the youth.

Trans Santa also shares links to individual registries on its website to make gift-giving even easier.

A screenshot of registries on the Trans Santa website
A screenshot of registries on the Trans Santa website

The wishlists also often include gender-affirming clothes, or items like binders, that may be difficult for trans youth to obtain safely. They are not extravagant gifts, but necessary items that help affirm trans youth and help them take care of themselves, their pets, and their loved ones just a bit better.

Current and past submissions fill the Trans Santa Instagram page, including handwritten letters to Santa and original artwork. 

Submissions come from folks like Conor, who is 19, hasn’t celebrated the holidays with family in nearly a decade, and is looking to rebuild an affirming wardrobe after a fire in their apartment. 

Or there’s Ryan, a disabled trans artist who faces homophobia and transphobia at home but uses art as a healing outlet, and would just like some art supplies and gender-affirming clothes.

A screenshot of a letter posted on the Trans Santa Instagram page
Photo courtesy of Trans Santa

There’s even 8-year-old Vincent, who wrote a letter to Santa on behalf of his trans father, asking for “help with everything,” as their family is “couch surfing from home to home.” 

Outside of the gifting project, Trans Santa also works with other organizations to uplift trans and non-binary individuals, encourages followers to shop from queer and trans-owned businesses, and more.

What is the impact of Trans Santa?

Creating safe, welcoming environments for LGBTQ+ youth to be their authentic selves is vital to their survival. LGBTQ+ youth who reported having at least one accepting adult were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in 2019. 

Young trans people face oppression across the world and increasingly lack access to things like school, healthcare, safe housing, and life opportunities. This is also compounded by already difficult life conditions for trans youth, particularly Black and Brown young people, who face multiple unjust systems.

Even if you are not a parent, teacher, or community leader that works with young people, you have a role in making trans youth feel loved and included in your community. 

A screenshot of the Resources page on the Trans Santa website
A screenshot of the Trans Santa Resources page.

Trans Santa provides an easy and straightforward way to unite us all in the mission to protect and uplift trans kids. 

“Ultimately, our capacity for love, care, and connection can disrupt some of the structural limits on our survival opportunities and create more space for people to thrive and continue rich trans legacies of social and political transformation,” the Trans Santa website reads. 

“By investing in trans care, you are investing in trans survival.” 

While Trans Santa does not have clear estimates for the youth that will be supported this year, the organization reported on Giving Tuesday that it has received over 1,900 letters from trans youth so far in 2023. 

In 2022, donors shared gifts with 3,842 trans youth

“Trans Santa has taught me that [I] am not alone,” Mary, an 18 year old recipient, shared with the organization. “That the world was also created for me. For us. I am more at peace than [I] have ever been in my life.”

How can you make a difference? 

If you’re interested in supporting trans youth during the holidays (and all the time) you can become a Santa and shop items on the wishlists shared by Trans Santa. 

You can also contribute to the mission directly (and consider being a monthly supporter) to help show young trans people that they are loved and supported.

Trans Santa also accepts volunteers. You can visit the project’s website to learn more and sign up. 

Of course, all of these exciting and intentional community care projects are driven by the desire to see systemic change in support of LGBTQ+ youth. 

Do your part to make the world safer for trans youth by checking out our guides to supporting the LGBTQ+ community and standing in solidarity with trans folks.

Article Details

December 5, 2023 8:50 AM
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