Valentine's Day is often seen as an exclusively romantic holiday, but love can be about familial or community connection as well. Local nonprofit Stand With Trans is taking exactly that approach with its upcoming Share the Love event on Friday, Feb. 14, at the Orchard United Methodist Church in Farmington Hills. An annual part of the organization's schedule, this family oriented evening directed toward kids 5 and up changes slightly each year. In 2020, attendees are encouraged to wear red, pink or rainbow colors while learning about taking care of oneself and connecting over food and music.
"Every year it looks a little different in order to create a sense of community for families and provide a space where kids can connect with one another while celebrating their identities as well as showing them that they are loved for who they are," said Stand With Trans Program Manager Dakota Ball. "This event also begins to mark Stand with Trans' fifth year in working with the community, particularly those youth and their families who are transgender, gender non-conforming, and/or nonbinary."
Roz Keith is the executive director of SWT. She said that one of the centerpieces of the day's schedule is the life skills program that will debut at Share the Love.
"Stand with Trans is launching a new program for trans/enby youth called How to do life. This is a skill-building series that will cover topics such as self-care, financial literacy, social skills in a digital world and more," Keith said. "The first opportunity for youth to participate in it is at the Share the Love event."
The inspiration for the day's schedule, Ball said, was "all about love and how that doesn't always need to involve other people." The program includes a session about yoga and mindfulness as well as a discussion and information about access to support resources for those in transition.
"Self-care is an important part of showing yourself love and loving yourself no matter who or what you identify or don't identify as," he said. "This includes love for your body — hence the yoga aspect — especially for those youth who may have a difficult relationship with their body due to gender-related issues such as gender dysphoria, on top of the generally difficult relationship with one's body that can come along with puberty. It also includes love for your mind, and the mindfulness aspect is what comes into play here. Love for the self is really at the core of those pieces."
Ball said that before coming, attendees should know that the space is an affirming one for transgender, gender non-conforming and nonbinary youth. Because of this, Ball said there is a special emphasis on remembering everyone's names and pronouns and avoiding assumptions about gender for people of all ages.
Additionally, Keith added that each youth who attends will receive a $25 stipend and a certificate of completion.
"There are 10 spaces available in each workshop and youth can register for as many workshops as they'd like," she said. "The series is funded in part by the DTE Energy Foundation, PNC and individual donations."