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 legislative attacks, and in 2022 alone, state legislatures across the U.S. have introduced over 130 anti-trans bills, according to the legislative tracker from Freedom For All Americans.
These bills often attempt to make healthcare for trans youth a crime, exclude trans youth from participating in sports, target parents of trans youth, and perpetuate harmful stigmas.
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.
“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.
After the application window closes, 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.
Past submissions fill the Trans Santa Instagram page, including handwritten letters to Santa and original artwork.
There’s Nina, a 13-year-old trans girl who asked for kettles and electric blankets to get by with her mother; Ren, a disabled trans artist who asked for art and pet supplies; and even an aunt, who wrote on behalf of her niece, Mae, who she took in after Mae was rejected by her parents.
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.
Outside of the gifting project, Trans Santa also works with other organizations to uplift trans and non-binary artists, encourages followers to shop from queer-owned businesses, provides free therapy to LGBTQ+ youth, and more.
Why is this good news?
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.
Even if you are not a parent, teacher, or community leader that works with young people, you have a part in making trans youth feel loved and included in your community.
Trans Santa provides an easy and straightforward way to unite us all in the mission to protect and uplift trans kids.
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.
Trans Santa has also worked with Uninterrupted, Megan Rapinoe, and Filkshop App for the Love Is Uninterrupted campaign this holiday season. Together, the organizations have created a project for folks to send a heartfelt digital postcard to incarcerated LGBTQ+ community members.
Participants can select art made by folks at Trans Santa, write a thoughtful message to someone in the incarcerated LGBTQ+ community, and Filkshop App will be sure the postcards are delivered to the folks who need the encouragement most.
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 LGBTQ+ youth action guide.