Surrey’s Youth For A Change Group Provides a Welcoming Community for LGBTQA2S+ Youth

Pictured Above: Surrey604 Host, Natasha Raey with members of Youth For A Change.

The group accepts everyone for who they are, and act as each other’s support. They are family.

Written By Reba Broadhurst

Youth for A Change was founded in March 2012 by Sylvie Traphan and Jen Marchbank along with ten very keen youth. They are educators, activists and advocates on many youth issues but especially issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, two-spirit, and queer youth and allies. Members range in age from 13+, many identify as LGBTQ+, others as allies, ALL participate in planning and decision-making about the group’s activities. They educate themselves and others in a variety of ways.

Surrey Youth For a Change Members Candy and Andrew.
Surrey Youth For a Change members, Candy and Andrew.

For example, they offer workshops to schools, learning centres and other youth groups on topics such as: Homophobia and Transphobia; Gender Identities; Youth Homelessness and Healthy Teen Relationships. Several of their members have experienced social adversity in different ways. For some it has been long periods of homelessness in their teens due to parental and personal differences. For others they have youth who are operating daily by managing their mental health issues, one of which is currently not in regular school due to issues. They accept everyone for who they are, and act as each other’s support, they are family.

A Youth For a Change gathering for Transgender Day of Remembrance
A Youth For a Change gathering on Transgender Day of Remembrance

Each year on Transgender Day of Remembrance, Youth for a Change gets involved with surrounding events to celebrate those who they have lost. This past year on November 20th, 2017 Youth for a Change held their own event and invited several people to come and join in the remembering. During this event they had spoken word performances, the pieces were written by trans youth or youth who identified as trans at the time of the piece being written. You can view their performances in the video below.

One of the youth agreed to have an interview with Surrey604’s Natasha Raey to speak about their difficulties growing up as an LGBTQ+ youth. This youth is very well known by the name Candy, she shares her story of being homeless at a young age and how she has progressed as the years have gone on. One thing Candy does share is how she was uneducated when she was younger and didn’t know what being transgender was and thought that she would be crazy to be such a thing. However, this points out a huge issue in society and how there is little to no education at an early age of LGBTQ+ peoples and their history. Watch Candy’s interview with Natasha below.

One of the group’s facilitators/co-founder, Jen Marchbank also agreed to be interviewed by Natasha. Jen and Sylvie created this group almost six years ago to teach youth how to network, how to advocate and educate etc. Jen speaks about the youth group and some of the places the youth have been invited to perform over the years. Watch Jen’s interview below.

Outside of the youth group, Jen Marchbank is a professor of Gender Studies and Women Studies at SFU. Jen Marchbank and two other lovely individuals Claire Robson and Kelsey Blair are the editors of “Basically Queer” which is a collaboration of pieces from the youth with Youth for a Change and the elders from the Quirk-e which is a senior’s GLBT group. This book is “An Intergenerational Introduction to LGBTQA2S+ Lives.”

The launch for this book will be at SFU this coming Monday, February 26th from 7pm-9pm where there will be more spoken word performances of pieces from the book. All details can be found in the Facebook event titled “Basically Queer Book Launch.”

Written By Reba Broadhurst. Photography by Daman Beatty


In this Surrey604 documentary web series, host Natasha Raey talks to transmasculine males, Blake and Andrew about work, faith, male privilege and many of the uphill battles transgender people still face today.

This project was made possible thanks to the generous support of EPAMA who has been at the forefront of GLBT representation in Surrey since 2000.

Daman Beatty
The creator of Surrey604.com, Daman Beatty (AKA 'Beatler') is originally from Sackville, New Brunswick. A longtime media producer, visual designer, marketing and communications specialist, Daman loves travel, technology and being a Daddy.