Queer, trans and Two Spirit communities experience a range of health disparities that are rooted in stigma and discrimination and exacerbated by systemic barriers to culturally competent supports and services. In the face of these challenges, however, queer, trans, and Two Spirit communities across Canada have demonstrated extraordinary resilience, time and time again stepping up and into the gaps to fight for their health, well-being, and their rights.
It is this resilience that Totally Outright aims to harness, building the capacity of and centring young queer, trans, and two spirit community members in the development and implementation of their own community-led health responses. If you’re a queer, trans, or Two Spirit young person interested in becoming a health leader in your community (or an organization interested in supporting the development of young leaders) then Totally Outright is the program for you.
Totally Outright at a Glance
Like other community health leadership programs developed and delivered by CBRC and its partners, Totally Outright aims to:
- Build connections between participants – with participants establishing long-term friendships that last long beyond the end of the program
- Improve participant health literacy – with participants demonstrating increased knowledge and increased capacity to adopt positive health behaviours and access relevant health services
- Train participants in community-based health promotion – with participants gaining practical skills which can be applied in a variety of real-world contexts beyond the end of the program
- Empower participants to solve health challenges in community – with participants having the opportunity to lead the development and delivery of health responses to issues facing their communities
These objectives are met through a multi-pronged program pathway which includes:
A core curriculum comprised of two domains:
Domain One: Community Health Foundations
While Totally Outright was initially developed to address the sexual health needs of young queer, trans, and Two Spirit people, over time it has expanded to cover a range of health issues across all spheres of health. In part this has been driven by participant interests. However, we also understand that you can’t address sexual health (or any area of health for that matter) in a vacuum. Instead, social, mental, and sexual health are intertwined, with each influencing and influenced by the others. Therefore, to respond to participant interests and the increasing understanding of these links, the Community Health Foundations domain of the curriculum aims to provide an initial introduction to key health issues affecting queer, trans, and Two Spirit people across sexual, social, and mental health.
Domain Two: Community-Based Health Promotion
In the first domain of the program, participants gained a foundation of knowledge about a range of health challenges and assets experienced by queer, trans, and two spirit communities across Canada. Participants were also equipped with the personal health and system navigation strategies necessary to apply what they’ve learned in their own lives and achieve their own health and wellness goals. Having become leaders of their own health journeys, it’s now time for participants to expand their focus and become health leaders within their communities. This is the focus of the second domain: Community-Based Health Promotion.
Throughout this domain of the program, participants are introduced to the concept of health promotion, explore their understanding of what constitutes “community”, and are encouraged to link the two, developing a shared definition of community-based health promotion which will guide their learning and efforts throughout the concluding sessions of the program.
Participants then engage with local research(ers), community-based organizations, and individuals leading community-based health promotion work in their communities to enhance their understanding of the health gaps, assets, challenges, and opportunities local queer, trans, and two spirit people experience. With this enhanced understanding, and the knowledge gained through the first domain of the program, participants complete an activity where they identify and prioritize a number of health challenges they wish to address through the development and delivery of their own self-determined community-based health promotion projects.
The entire program curriculum culminates with a final session wherein participants take all of the knowledge, strategies, and skills learned and apply them through the development of community-based health promotion project concepts that respond to the health challenges they prioritized in the previous session. These project concepts will provide the foundation for the projects that participants will further develop and then deliver to cap off the program.
Note: Totally Outright’s curriculum includes a number of “core” sessions that local delivery partners are expected to deliver as a part of the program. Session materials are provided to program delivery partners and are highly adaptable to ensure they are relevant to the local context. In addition to this, there are a number of “open” sessions that partners can develop and deliver themselves based on their own strengths and local participant interests.
Community Health Intervention Development & Delivery
Though it was not a formal component of the Totally Outright program, over the years, many Totally Outright delivery partners concluded the program by providing participants the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned through the development and delivery of their own community health interventions. Recently, as Totally Outright underwent a refresh, CBRC and our partners agreed that this applied component of the program was crucial to ensuring that Totally Outright doesn’t simply impart knowledge upon participants but gives them a chance to hone their skills through practice so that they can develop into the community health leaders Totally Outright aims to produce. Therefore, CBRC is working with Totally Outright delivery partners to integrate this program component as a formal part of their local programs.
The community health intervention development and delivery component of the program can look very different from site to site depending on delivery partner capacity, participant interest, program resources, and the local context. Therefore, it’s been built to be highly adaptable. Guidance on finding a community health intervention development and delivery pathway that works for a specific delivery partner’s local context is provided in the Totally Outright facilitator guide, which can be accessed free of charge by program partners.
If you like what you’ve read, visit the Get Involved section of the site to contact CBRC to learn more about participating in or delivering the program. Otherwise, read on below to learn more about the impact of the program and to review past community health interventions developed and delivered by existing Totally Outright programs.
An important note on Totally Outright’s audience: Totally Outright was initially developed as an intervention for young (18-30 year old) gay and bi men (cis and trans). Over time, as many of our partners have shifted their focus beyond HIV and sexual health, their programming, including Totally Outright, has been accessed by a much broader cross-section of the LGBTQ2S+ community, including individuals who identify as non-binary or fem, or who are older than the original age cut-off of 30. Many delivery partners who have adapted and delivered Totally Outright to a broader audience have found that the program is just as effective as when they only delivered it to gay and bi men between 18-30. CBRC recognizes that different delivery partners have different needs and serve different audiences. Therefore, we leave decisions concerning expanded audiences to the discretion of local delivery partners – as long as the program centres queer, trans, and Two Spirit people.