Megan Stowe Is Helping LGBTQIA+ Youth Know That They Aren't Alone

Megan Stowe

Photo by Tyler Wirken

When you ask Megan Stowe how being honored for her work in mental health lands for her, she diverts immediately to the importance of those she works with. "It's not just me," she says. "I have an incredible team behind me."

Humble in nature, Stowe's gentle demeanor belies the importance—as well as the gravity—of the work she is performing with The Trevor Project, a nonprofit founded 25 years ago to prevent suicide within the LGBTQIA+ youth community.

We sat down with Stowe to discuss the ways she and her involvement with this important organization, which has grown to do far more work than just suicide prevention, are moving the national conversation around mental health forward.

Megan Stowe

We want to lift the voices of LGBTQIA+ young people so that other people can see themselves, see their stories.

— Megan Stowe

Ahead, read about her thoughts on how we can create a better world for the next generation while doing our best to take care of ourselves.

Securing a Position at the Trevor Project

Stowe had created a successful career in television production and directing when she came upon the listing for her current position with the Trevor Project.

When She Knew the Trevor Project Was Where She Needed to Be

A resident of Kansas City, she had been directing a television show there, and it was also where she met her wife. She came across the opening at a time when it felt like the perfect match. "I was just looking for something...where I could use my skills to make a difference in the world," she explains. "When I saw this job opening, I was like, I think this job was meant for me."

She's been with the organization for about a year and a quarter now, and in that time has helped elevate the Project's mission through relatable, personal content. She notes that the content team is still being built out.

Changing Hearts and Minds

It's no surprise that "Learn With Love" was the name of the first documentary short film released under Stowe's tutelage. That's because her perspective feels optimistic and upbeat, even in an environment where attacks against LGBTQIA+ youth have steadfastly become the norm. "We want to lift the voices of LGBTQIA+ young people so that other people can see themselves, see their stories," she says.

She wants youth to feel affirmed, and to educate older adults about the experiences of the young. "Their experience and their existence is being debated daily but you never hear from them," she notes, so her work is to help them speak for themselves.

Stowe also hopes that the new content will motivate people to take action. Even with that goal, she understands the challenges of getting people to think differently, and she's willing to consider single steps a win.

She says the goal is "changing hearts and minds, which doesn't happen overnight, so 'Learn With Love' was about changing hearts and minds but knowing that, like, if somebody sees it they're not going to change their mind after, you know, 20, 30, 40, 50 years of the way they have thought. The goal is really to get them [to] stop and actually think about something, and maybe do some more research."

The Struggles of Social Media

When asked about the obstacles to improving mental health, Stowe quickly points to social media as a source of societal pressure.

Social Media Is a Double-Edged Sword

Understanding that she is someone responsible for putting content out into the world, her take on knowing your limits around the media you consume is all the more apt. She, of course, notes the impact that a lack of access to mental health care on youth has, as well as the stigma of needing it. But even for those who are able to seek the care they need, she finds that constantly being privy to bad news and the struggles of others can simply become too much.

"Social media, I think, has put a lot of pressure on society in general." She says that while she can "take a lot," there are times when it becomes too much. Stowe shares that her TikTok feed of "bad bills" has sometimes become overwhelming for her. She emphasizes that this left her feeling like "there's so much work to do, we need to do more."

Let's Create a Safer World

Stowe sees the creation of a safer world for LGBTQIA+ youth as a job that requires a group effort. "There's a lot of healing as a country, as a world, that we need to do."

The challenges youth face aren't because of their identities but because of how the world treats those with certain identities

She says that to improve the state of affairs, we should be "standing up for what's right, joining arms, helping elevate voices that are not able to be heard, and working together to create a better world for everyone."

She notes that's mental health care is not "a one size fits all approach." "It's really different for different folks," and Stowe understands that a multifaceted approach is necessary to improve our well-being as a whole. Looking at the ways the Trevor Project disseminates its messaging, this makes perfect sense.

How The Trevor Project Makes a Difference

Beyond the content they create, The Trevor Project offers crisis services 24/7, educates people publicly, and makes sure the results of its research findings get out into the world.

That research, which is conducted annually as a national survey of LGBTQIA+ youth, is the most realistic lens through which society is able to discern the state of those who are too young, and/or too marginalized, to be easily heard.

The Trevor Project takes an intersectional approach that factors in elements such as the impact of being a multiple minority and the minority stress model, and they do so while still making it clear that the challenges youth face aren't because of their identities but because of how the world treats those with certain identities.

In crafting the narrative of The Trevor Project, Stowe keeps all these facets at the forefront.

The Future—'These Young People Are Incredible'

Stowe's focus on creating positive change is infectious, and her attitude of hope gives one the impression that perhaps, even as we constantly see proof of LGBTQIA+ youth being under attack, the best is yet to come.

Megan Stowe

I can tell you firsthand, that [after] working with these young people, this generation, the younger generation, they are going to create change. These young people are incredible.

— Megan Stowe

The organization's newest documentary, "Sharing Space," portrays the stories of six trans/nonbinary youth. Rather than focusing on their struggles, the documentary instead places the light on the positive. Gender euphoria, rather than gender dysphoria, is highlighted. While the pain of attempting to be accepted is present as well, the film also highlights the importance of happiness, and "fully realized self-expression."

If you are seeking support for issues with coming out, relationships, bullying, self-harm, and more, contact the LGBT National Hotline at 1-888-843-4564 for one-to-one peer support.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Presenting queer youth as clearly capable of embracing the joy of their identities is a natural fit for Stowe. "I can tell you firsthand, that [after] working with these young people, this generation, the younger generation, they are going to create change," she says. "These young people are incredible." She marvels at their self-awareness and has strong faith in the work they will continue to do as time goes on.

Stowe's own practice for her mental health is straightforward: daily yoga, exercise, and meditation. She appears content to be behind the scenes, outside of the spotlight, which she instead shines on the youth as she changes the hearts and minds of the older generations, one piece of content at a time.

By Ariane Resnick, CNC
Ariane Resnick, CNC is a mental health writer, certified nutritionist, and wellness author who advocates for accessibility and inclusivity.