Make It Wright is an organization based in Grey and Bruce counties that formed in 2017 with a mandate to help support LGBTQ+ youth in the Grey-Bruce area.
“I’m trans – I live in Chesley, which is about 30 minutes away from Owen Sound,” co-founder Spencer Wright said. “I grew up here and, at 19, I transitioned to male. There are no supports in this area for LGBTQ+ youths or adults and I wasn’t OK with that.”
Wright moved back to Chesley after attending Conestoga College in Kitchener. He decided he did not want anyone to feel the way he felt growing up, which he described as feeling trapped.
“There was nothing here to help me,” he said. “I met some other LGBTQ+ people from Grey-Bruce and we applied to [Ontario] Trillium [Foundation] for a $210,000 grant and we received it. We started Make It Wright.”
Make It Write visits schools and agencies conducting LGBTQ+ workshops and diversity training to make workplaces and schools a more comfortable place the LGBTQ+ community.
“That way people know how to comfort them,” Wright said, “and know how to react if an employee comes to a boss and says something like ‘I’m Jodie now, but tomorrow I will be back as Bob.’ That way, the employer will know how to react to that instead of – for example – firing them. We come in and help that transition.”
When it comes to helping with transition, Wright said Make It Wright not only helps the person who is transitioning but also the organization or employer who also must get used to the transition.
“I go to schools and agencies to tell my story,” he said. “I try to help diversify the area to help people better understand and just get my story out there. If I can speak to a crowd of 200 people and I help just one person, that’s one person helped. It’s not about helping everyone in the world but about helping whoever needs the help.”
According to the statistics from a survey Make It Wright conducted after the We Care Share workshop, 50 per cent of students that identify as LGBTQ+ do not feel safe coming out at school.
Studies conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association have found LGBTQ+ youth face approximately 14 times the risk of suicide and substance abuse than their heterosexual peers. Seventy-seven percent of trans respondents in an Ontario-based survey had seriously considered suicide and 45 per cent had attempted suicide. Trans youth and those who had experienced physical or sexual assault were found to be at greatest risk.
“We want to make the Grey-Bruce area a better place for people like myself,” Wright said. “We want to help youth feel comfortable where they are.”