From they2ze: An Interview with Community Advisory Board Member Aaron Steinfeld

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You may have recently heard of our newest YTH tech innovation, they2ze–an app specifically designed for transgender spectrum identifying youth–but now we’re introducing you to the people who were involved with the early stages of development for they2ze. We believe in involving youth in all of our projects, every step of the way, so when it comes to designing youth-centered innovations in health, our main focus is you! That’s why we created a community advisory board for the app; to help design, test, and evaluate the prototype themselves.

In this interview with Aaron Steinfeld, we’ll be giving you an up close and personal chance to get to know one of our they2ze CAB members. Aaron (pronouns they / them / theirs) is the Youth Organizer at the Family Violence Law Center, working predominantly with young people to strengthen their peer education capacities around topics of teen dating violence and anti-oppression. They also work to train adults who work with youth on how to be allies to young people in unhealthy relationships with the hope of one day living in a world free from relationship violence.

We spoke to Aaron about their involvement in the CAB, their experience using the app, and the advice they’d give to other transgender-spectrum youth who are looking for support.

YTH: How did you first learn about they2ze? What compelled you to join the CAB?

AARON: I first learned about they2ze from a previous employee at YTH. He told me about the app, the intentions and goals for it, and I was immediately in! I joined the Community Advisory Board because I wanted to be able to provide a transfemme and non-binary voice to the conversation and to help to ensure that the app was going to be as inclusive and comprehensive as I know it can be. I am also a service provider for trans* youth and wanted to take part in something that I could give as a resource to the young people I work with.

YTH: In a few words, please describe your favorite functionality of the app and/or your favorite experience of the app thus far.

AARON: I love that the app allows for users to rate and review different businesses, organizations, and resources. The longer the app is out there, the more the community will benefit from trans* youth feedback.

YTH: How would you explain they2ze to your primary care provider and/or doctor? In what ways do you think an app like they2ze can improve overall access to services and providers?

AARON: they2ze is a great app that can help both service providers for trans* people and for trans* folks themselves! Check it out to learn more about inclusive language, important news and articles, and to learn from trans* people about what programs and services they want to see. I think this app can improve services because providers will be able to do learning on their own, without burdening trans* people.

I think this app can improve services because providers will be able to do learning on their own, without burdening trans* people.

YTH: There are many people who are unfamiliar with the experiences of transgender-spectrum identifying youth and their challenges in accessing appropriate health care. Think of your own personal experience, and tell us how having a tool like they2ze might have changed your personal journey on the transgender spectrum?

AARON: I think that if I had access to an app like this a couple of years ago, it would have given my parents, family, and friends a way to educate themselves on their own, without me having to do that for them. I could have shown them certain articles on the app without me having to summarize identity politics for them.

YTH: What advice and encouragement would you give to someone that doesn’t have access to inclusive resources like this?

AARON: I would say to someone that doesn’t have access to an app like this that there are many online resources that you can connect to. The online community can be supportive of transitioning and can provide you with a sense of community.

Thanks for your great work and words, Aaaron!

Before you go, make sure to download they2ze to see the great resources, community, and services for yourself. You can find the app for both Android and iOS devices, in the Google Play and App Stores.

Have further questions about they2ze? Stay tuned for our next blog, a primer on pronouns.

Want to know more about designing with youth? Chat with our program staff, Molly Pilloton, Program Officer of Youth Innovation and co-author of the national report TECHsex, and sign up for our newsletter for more youth-centered health design thinking and tips.