In May 2016, two events epitomized the complexities of working for global transgender youth rights. First, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) hosted a ministerial event in which education ministers from around the world released a call to action for protection of students on the basis of their gender identity and expression in schools. Second, the United Nations (UN) hosted an event celebrating the family, attended by conservative ministers and activists who mobilized family protectionist discourse against transgender students. This article contemplates, in light of transgender activist Raewyn Connell’s Southern Theory contributions, the complexity of global research and work for transgender youth. It considers key informant interviews with 50 stakeholders in the global push for transgender student rights in education, including members of government and non-government organisations, and academics from Northern and Southern countries. Problems in aiding transgender youth at the global level included safety concerns, the impacts of conservative advocates and media backlash (within family and national protectionist discourses), cultural complexities hampering engagement and translation, dissemination hindrances pertaining to established publishing biases, and financial and collaboration barriers. Solutions including virtual work; multi-level leadership; alliance-building; representation; visibility of transgender youth citizenship and family membership; and legal, financial and capacity-building aid are considered.
Bibliographical noteCopyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.