The 7 Best Online Transgender Support Groups of 2020

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Trans Lifeline

"In addition to information resources, Trans Lifeline offers microgrants to individuals who need financial support when updating their name and gender."

Best for Young People in Crisis: The Trevor Project

"The Trevor Project offers TrevorSpace, a social networking site for LGBT individuals under 25, as well as their friends and allies."

Best for Support Around Surgical Transition: Transbucket

"You can see photos that people have shared of their results, and ask questions about their experiences getting surgery."

Best for Teens and Their Parents: Gender Spectrum

"Even better, Gender Spectrum offers a Spanish-language support group for parents of Latinx trans youth."

Best for Seniors: ElderTG

"In order to join the Elder TG list you must be a transgender or intersex person who is over 50."

Best for Mental Health: The Tribe - LGBTQ+ Group

"Most of the resources from The Tribe can be accessed either on a desktop or a mobile device, which makes it a great option for when you’re around and about."

Best for Partners: Engender Partners

"It is a Yahoo group, where messages are exchanged asynchronously. People send and respond to emails rather than chatting live."

Transgender people are those individuals whose gender identity is different from their assigned sex at birth. (Cisgender people are those whose gender identity is what is assigned when they are born.) Both binary, non-binary, and non-binary transgender individuals can experience significant stress moving through a world that is sometimes hostile, and often lacking understanding. Having other people to talk to can make a big difference in your ability to cope. 

It is important to know that many online transgender support groups are closed or restricted. You may be asked to affirm your identity before joining one of them. Additionally, some groups are by invitation only and may require networking for accessibility.

We've rounded up the best online transgender support groups so you can find the right one for your needs.

If you need immediate support in a time of crisis, please contact Trans Lifeline - 877-565-8860 or the Trevor Project Lifeline - 866-488-7386

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Trans Lifeline

Trans Lifeline

Trans Lifeline

Trans Lifeline is a peer-support service run by trans people for trans people. All of the operators who work for the hotline are trans-identified.

While it started as a service for people in crisis, that is no longer the case. Trans Lifeline still functions as a crisis and suicide prevention hotline. However, it also serves as a space for trans people who just need someone to talk to.

Trans Lifeline provides live, one-on-one phone support, as well as large numbers of online resources for transgender and gender-questioning individuals. The hotline is open 24 hours a day. It is only guaranteed to be staffed from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time, but operators are often also available at other times. 

In addition to information resources, Trans Lifeline offers microgrants to individuals who need financial support when updating their name and gender on their legal documents. They accept a limited number of applications each month. However, they will pay the entire fee for most document changes other than birth certificates. 

Best for Young People in Crisis: The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project began from a film, the Academy Award-winning Trevor.

When the movie was released, the creators soon realized that there was a need for resources to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. To address this need, they created The Trevor Project.

The Trevor Project offers a number of support resources for LGBTQ+ youth. There is a crisis hotline called TrevorLifeline. There is a secure, instant messaging service called TrevorChat. The site provides access to trained specialists via cellphone using TrevorText. Finally, the Trevor Project offers TrevorSpace, a social networking site for LGBTQ+ individuals under 25, as well as their friends and allies.

In addition to support resources for LGBTQ+ youth, The Trevor Project offers educational resources for teachers and other professionals who work with youth. They also offer materials to help schools develop comprehensive suicide prevention policies that address kids' needs.

Best for Support Around Surgical Transition: Transbucket

Transbucket

Transbucket

Transbucket is primarily an online resource for learning about gender-affirming surgery. It is restricted to only members of the transgender community. However, it takes a broad approach to defining the trans community, including not only binary and non-binary individuals but also those individuals who identify as agender (without gender). 

On Transbucket, you can find stories about people’s experiences undergoing various types of gender-affirming care. You can learn about different surgeons. You can also see photos that people have shared of their results, and ask questions about their experiences getting surgery. 

Although it is not a traditional support group, Transbucket is a great place to learn about gender-affirming care. While not a substitute for a doctor’s advice, Transbucket can give you a window into what it’s actually like to get different types of surgery. It also may provide a broader range of results, both good and bad, than you are likely to see at a surgeon’s office. 

Best for Teens and Their Parents: Gender Spectrum

Gender Spectrum

Gender Spectrum

Gender Spectrum is an organization that was built to “create gender sensitive and inclusive environments for all children and teens.”

The service is best-known for both its annual conference and its extensive selection of training and other resources for youth, their families, and the professionals working with them. However, Gender Spectrum also offers online groups for pre-teens, teens, parents, caregivers, and other family members. Even better, Gender Spectrum offers a Spanish-language support group for parents of Latinx trans youth. 

Gender Spectrum primarily offers generalized support groups for transgender youth and their families. However, the organization also occasionally offers topic-specific support groups for caregivers.

In order to participate in a group, you will have to register. Groups are held at specific times and take place over one or more sessions. For some groups, you can attend once or multiple times over the course of a month. For others, you are expected to attend for an entire series. 

Groups are organized by population. They are generally facilitated by one or more trained staffers who may or may not be part of the transgender community. All pre-teen groups are led by trained volunteers or Gender Spectrum staff. 

Best for Seniors: ElderTG

ElderTG

Forge Forward (ElderTG)

Transgender elders, and the people who love them, face a different range of challenges than their younger counterparts. They grew up at a time where there was substantially less visibility for transgender people. It was also a time where there was less access to gender-affirming care.

In general, communities made up of older adults are also more conservative, which may make them less accepting. Because of this, the life experiences of, and choices made by, older transgender adults can be hard to understand by younger transgender people and allies. 

Elder TG isn’t technically a support group. Instead, it’s an e-mail list for transgender people, their significant others, friends, families, and allies (SOFFAs). The advantage of this is that it’s low-tech. The only thing you need to participate in this supportive community is an e-mail address.

In order to join the Elder TG list, you must be a transgender or intersex person who is over 50, or the SOFFA of someone who fits in that category. The listserv has a high volume of e-mails, as it serves as the primary support system for many of its members. 

Best for Mental Health: The Tribe - LGBTQ+ Group

The Tribe - LGBT Group

The Tribe - LGBT Group

There aren’t a lot of transgender-specific support groups for people looking for help dealing with mental health concerns.

However, lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals face some of the same issues moving through the world, as do their transgender counterparts. Therefore, sometimes an LGBTQ+ support group can be a good option. This is particularly true for individuals whose concerns are less about their gender and more about other types of stress. 

The Tribe offers an LGBTQ+ peer-to-peer support group. Using this site, there are several ways of getting support. You can either post in a group forum, or you can chat live with other members of the group. You can also participate in a range of wellness activities. While not transgender-specific, these activities can help you develop coping skills and otherwise work to improve your mental health and wellbeing.

Most of the resources from The Tribe can be accessed either on a desktop or a mobile device, which makes it a great option for when you’re around and about. 

Best for Partners: Engender Partners

Engender Partners

Engender Partners

Individuals who are dating or married to transgender partners can face their own unique struggles and stressors. For example, it is not uncommon for cisgender partners to question their partner’s gender journey, their relationship to it, and what it says about their own sexual orientation.

Additionally, many queer female partners of transmasculine individuals (those assigned female at birth with a more, masculine gender identity) report feeling a loss of queer identity and community as their partners transition to male, and they are perceived as “straight.” 

The Engender Partners' group is designed to provide a “private, supportive forum for the partners of TG/CD people.” (CD stands for “crossdressing.”) It is a Yahoo group, where messages are exchanged asynchronously.

In other words, people send and respond to emails rather than chatting live. It is aimed primarily at female partners of transgender individuals who are assigned male-at-birth, which limits its audience. 

Why you should trust our recommendations

The author of this guide is a licensed, independent clinical social worker who works in a hospital-based transgender health program. She has published extensively about gender health and routinely provides online supports to her patients. The resources included in this guide were selected to include the most-respected, publicly available online support groups. 

What does it mean to be transgender?

Gender identity is a person’s internal sense of themself as male, female, or a different gender. People sometimes refer to the “transgender umbrella” as including all individuals who have a gender identity that is different from that which would be expected for their assigned sex at birth. This includes individuals who have a binary identity, such as transgender men who were assigned female at birth. It also includes people who are non-binary, genderqueer, or agender.

What do transgender support groups offer?

Transgender support groups offer people a chance to connect and discuss similar life experiences and challenges. Sometimes, when you are a member of a minority group, it can be helpful to talk to people who will understand those parts of your life without needing an explanation. That’s true whether you’re transgender yourself, or you’re the parent or partner of someone who is trans.

Transgender support groups can be a great place to find people who understand you and make you feel less alone. They can serve as resources in a time of crisis, or just a place to find a sympathetic ear if you’re having a bad day.

How can transgender support groups help you?

Transgender people may experience challenges that are somewhat unique to others who share a similar gender identity or life stage. That is true whether you’re a teen just trying to figure out how to come out to your parents or an elderly person struggling to fit into an assisted living community.

Being a part of a support group can help you find resources to cope with problems, whether they are large or small. They can also help you feel useful, and needed, by giving you a chance to provide support to others. Everyone has different experiences, knowledge, and skills. A transgender support group can be a way to feel better about your life, not just by getting help but helping others.

Why do transgender people have an increased risk of mental health problems?

In general, transgender people have an increased risk of mental health problems. This is not because being transgender is bad, or wrong. It is because people who are transgender often experience stigma and or discrimination. These experiences are associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety. They may also increase a person’s risk of developing problematic coping skills such as smoking or substance use.

Do all transgender people want hormones and surgery? 

Each transgender person is different. While many are interested in affirming their gender with hormones and surgery, others are content to live their lives without any medical intervention. It does not make a transgender person any more “real” for them to have chosen to undergo gender-affirming, hormone therapy, or surgery. Different people have different needs in order to live as their authentic selves.

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