CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Midwest Asian Health Association is working to raise awareness about gender identity in the Asian immigrant community.
"To be honest a lot of Chinese parents aren't accepting of this," MAHA Mental Health Counselor Ailin Chang said.
The health nonprofit, based in Chinatown, was one of 22 organizations across the country awarded a grant last summer from Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation to tackle youth mental health. They are also funded by the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
They recently hosted their first workshop with the funding aimed at addressing the often difficult home lives of trans youth.
The presentation held at James Ward Elementary School was in English and Mandarin.
Although the turnout was low, Chang felt they made an impact.
"At least one of the parents asked a lot of good questions during the workshop," she said.
According to a 2022 national survey by The Trevor Project, nearly 1 in 5 transgender and non-binary youth attempted suicide in the past year. And LGBTQ youth of color reported higher rates than their white peers.
The survey also found that LGBTQ youth who felt high social support from their family are less likely to attempt suicide.
"Parents' role is to be there and support them and provide as much resources as they can to support their child.
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance Executive Director Kenrick Ross believes parents of trans kid can be bridge builders between their children and their community.
"There is a sense of loneliness and vulnerability that you have to choose between your culture and your sexuality, your gender expression," he said.
MAHA plans to organize more programming around youth gender identity in the future.
"People are getting more comfortable with listening to our workshop so this knowledge, this information could be spread to more people," Chang said.