4 mins

TranSanta is back! 

TranSanta is a 2020’s version of the holiday game “Secret Santa” with a crowd-sourcing twist.

Starting as an Instagram account last Christmas, TranSanta is now a holiday lifeline for thousands of trans and nonbinary young people living in difficult and dangerous situations.

Indya Moore, Kyle Lasky, Chase Strangio, and Pidgeon Pagonis launched TranSanta to support young trans and nonbinary people who might be particularly vulnerable during the holiday season. 

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by @transanta

Their idea is simple.

They invite trans and nonbinary youth (younger than 24) who are unhoused, in foster care, or who do not live in a safe and supportive home to send their Christmas wishlists to the TranSanta website. 

TranSanta’s elves post the wishlists on their Instagram page and link each post to the young person’s amazon wishlist.
Each wishlist contains the gifts they wish to receive.
The people who follow @TransSanta on Instagram can read the wishlists, offer words of encouragement and support in the comments and buy gifts directly on the amazon lists by clicking on the post in the link in the bio.

It has been an impressive success.
Secret Santas from around the world directly donated over $400,000 worth of gifts to young trans and nonbinary people during the holidays last year.
After the 2020 holiday season, the Instagram account went dormant while elves prepared for the 2021 holidays.
But it is now up and running again for a new month of holiday cheer with over 110,000 followers.
Submissions are being accepted through December 20th.

Why it matters 

The estimated 1.3 million trans and nonbinary children (under age 17) living in the U.S. face disproportionately higher mental health and social risks than cisgender children – the threat of violence and the dangers of victimization, substance use, and suicide (1).

In addition, 63% describe their “home and family acceptance” as being less than “very accepting of LGBT people.” (2)
This high degree of non-acceptance makes trans and nonbinary youth particularly vulnerable to being unhoused or living in foster care.

Furthermore, for trans and nonbinary youth, the holiday season can feel like a joyless time with heightened rejection levels and lower levels of family support. (3)
In addition, social services and shelters frequently deny shelter to these youth based on their gender identity, putting them further at risk.
It is estimated that one in five transgender individuals will have the experience of living unhoused at some point in their lives.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by @transanta

The organizers of TranSanta understood there was an urgent gap to fill in the lives of these “at-risk” youths.
It is a crisis that affects every community in every state.

“The goal of the campaign is to show young trans people that they are loved, supported, and have a family around the country and the world of people who will care for them during the holidays,” they wrote at the launch.
“Transness is so beautiful, and we are celebrating our magic!” 

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by @transanta


“All I want for Christmas is….”

Since it began, @TranSanta has posted close to 2,000 wishlists.
The wishlists are mostly handwritten or hand-drawn. And for obvious reasons, they are anonymous.
Apart from being a letter to Santa, the wishlists also frequently tell part of someone’s story.
They are stories of young people sharing their hopes, challenges, and struggles.

For instance, as we were writing this article, a post from Hendrix appeared in the TranSanta IG feed. 

Hendrix wrote, “Hello! I’m Hendrix. I’m a 17-year-old Afro-Latino from Florida. Sadly around last year, my family got hit by bills + that virus — we struggled for a while and still do, sadly. But, I have good news from all the madness — I have free tuition. Which means, I need school supplies and clothes — and I don’t have the money for such. If anyone could help, please! ⁠
Thank you for your support!
Also, make sure to look at the other kids too. We all could use the support and we all thank you for being kind enough to help us.”⁠

Here is the wishlist that Hendrix included with his letter:

  • Five pairs of crew socks
  • A pack of 4 t-shirts
  • A pullover hoodie
  • A box of mechanical pencils and a box of lead
  • Two boxes of pens
  • Three loose-leaf binders and paper
  • Several notebooks
  • A backpack
  • A blanket
  • A video game necklace
  • Two pairs of computer blue-light blocking eyeglasses
  • Four novels

All the items on Hendrix’s wishlist were purchased by anonymous Secret Santa’s from around the world in the time that it took to write this article. 

⁠When launching the TranSanta campaign, Indya Moore wrote, “My friends and I want to make sure that trans kids feel like they are a gift to this world because they are. Acceptance and love are gifts we deserve all year.”

Want to know more? 

Head over to @TranSanta to learn more about their work for trans and binary youth.
Read the posts and learn a bit about the people who are reaching out for support during the holidays this year.
And if you feel like making an anonymous contribution, check out the gift registry by clicking on the link in their bio or go to their Pledge Page to make a donation that supports their mission.

This article is part of Everyday Grit’s ongoing series to balance the media portrayal of trans people and lives.
You may also be interested in reading “Where love is illegal, personal testimonies of survival.”
Only on Everyday Grit.

Supporting resources

On becoming an ally: the Human Rights Campaign/Gender Spectrum “Youth Survey.”
On building a safer, more inclusive world and ending suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning young people: The Trevor Project
Or look at the infographic “Getting the facts about trans youth.”

Feature image credit : Milles Studio/Shutterstock

Footnotes:

  1. Rasberry CN, Robin L, Underwood JM. Transgender Identity and Experiences of Violence Victimization, Substance Use, Suicide Risk, and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among High School Students – 19 States and Large Urban School Districts, 2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2019 Jan 25;68(3):67-71. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6803a3. PMID: 30677012; PMCID: PMC6348759.
  2. https://www.hrc.org/supporting-and-caring-for-our-gender-expansive-youth
  3. https://www.thetrevorproject.org/research-briefs/holiday-crisis-trends/
  4. https://www.lgbtmap.org/file/Advancing%20Acceptance%20Infographic%20FINAL.pdf
  5. https://transequality.org/issues/housing-homelessness
  6. https://www.hrc.org/resources/understanding-the-transgender-community
  7. https://www.hrc.org/resources/fatal-violence-against-the-transgender-and-gender-non-conforming-community-in-2021
/by