RESEARCH, BRAND INNOVATION, STRATEGY, VISUAL DESIGN & BRAND IDENTITY, UX/UI, PRODUCT DESIGN
What if we could create and foster a community that supports and empowers trans youth?
This is a safe space.
THRVE is a brand and community built to fulfill the needs of trans youth and their families. This was a social good project completed in my 3rd semester of grad school that was inspired by my team's passion for queer rights, the fight for trans visibility and vibrancy, and creating actionable change.
I conducted qualitative/quantitative research and interviews, designed and rendered physical spaces, designed and tested the UX/UI experience of the digital product, while creating a powerful brand and narrative that brings THRVE to life—showcasing how the brand would exist in the world.
In the United States, it isn’t just the government that hinders a trans child’s ability to grow, be confident and determine their identity—it is often their own families.
“As a parent, the one thing we cannot do… is silence our child’s spirit.” — Brandon Boulware, a father of a transgender daughter, testifies during a hearing in Missouri state congress asking lawmakers to stop discriminating against trans youth.
Trans youth experience familial rejection at a much higher rate than cisgender youth.
Familial rejection leads to trans youth homelessness—as well as physical assaults and sexual exploitation in shelters and out in the real world. Around 30% of trans or nonbinary youth have experienced homelessness, been kicked out, or run away from home.
These youth are extremely vulnerable— to discrimination, rejection, and/or feelings of self-hatred. These can cause trans youth to engage in activities that put their health at risk, trigger depression, anxiety, and leaving them feeling hopeless, alone, and other.
40% of trans or nonbinary youth have experienced housing instability.
(National survey on LGBTQ+ mental health, 2020)
When a young person comes out as transgender, they aren’t the only ones who will be transitioning. Their family and close network of people will have to transition as well.
The main reason for familial rejection is a lack of understanding and education. Families, too, need resources, support, and community. The more equipped they feel to care for the physical and emotional needs of their transgender child, the more accepting they will be. Thus, providing a more supportive, loving, environment.
We can prevent trans youth from ending up without homes. Research reveals that interventions to prevent homelessness are more cost-effective than addressing the problem after someone is already experiencing homelessness.
There is a way to create mutual understanding and empowerment for trans youth and their families because the fact is: we all go through transitions.
When a trans youth has even one other person they can confide in, one person who hears them, sees them, and validates them, they are far more likely to feel secure in their identity.
If trans youth had an entire community of supportive, progressive people to make a lasting impact on their lives—they could THRIVE.
A community for Trans youth and their families
THRIVE is a digital and physical community space for trans youth and their families, so trans youth don't end up without a home.
THRVE is creating a culture in which no parent will question, try to dissuade, or reject their trans child when they come out. And in doing this, we hope to eliminate the alarming number of trans youths who find themselves without a home on the basis of their gender identity. We teach our children to be themselves. Don’t we mean it?
THRVE's digital platform allows trans youth and their families to connect with others within the community regardless of their location. They can direct or group message, discover and share resources while growing their support network.
THRVE's physical community center is located in Washington, D.C. Trans youth and their families can meet here to socialize, educate themselves, and gain access to center resources. The space embodies the feelings of warmth, comfort, softness, and community.
THRVE COMMUNITY CENTER
THRVE’s community center is on D.C.’s U Street, on a block with high walking and transit scores.
D.C. was chosen for a few reasons:
D.C. is the battleground of legislative change. And THRVE is not going anywhere even after transgender rights are human rights.
D.C. is easy to access and bordered by states containing more rural communities of people who may not have access to progressive networks in their immediate vicinity. These states include Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
The overall design of THRVE’s physical location is inspired by Hygge, which is Scandanavian for wellbeing. Every design decision we made is meant to embody warmth, comfort, softness, and community.
The use of modular furniture means that the space can be rearranged easily depending on how it’s being used at the time. It lends itself to constant transformation, much like our community.
To create a sense of harmony and balance, the more vibrant THRVE brand colors are offset by warm, neutral accents and wood.
The flow of the space is such that more open spaces for gathering are located at the front of the building, and as you go deeper into THRVE, it becomes more intimate and private.
All in all, the space itself reflects what the brand stands for.
When community members arrive at THRVE, they are greeted by a team member at the front desk who is there to answer any questions and act as their guide of the space.
The public lounge is a space to socialize or find a nook of one’s own. This area is the first area members see when they enter THRVE. It’s spacious and very welcoming, a place to wait for others, meet new people or chat with team members.
In the hangout area, our community can socialize, lounge, study, etc. Large windows open up onto U Street so no one feels closed in or hidden from the world. Our intention is to make them feel more a part of the world than ever.
On the other side of the cozy hangout space, there are communal tables for eating, playing, meeting and working. The tables can easily be rearranged to accommodate for a large event.
The quiet library is filled with relevant resources for youths and families. This is a space for education, sharing knowledge, and reflection. Community members can sit with a friend or by themselves. On the other side is the activities room, where you can see the ping-pong table.
In the Activities Area, community members can meditate, practice yoga, stretch out, or play with toys on mats. The ping-pong table in the corner can be set up as an air hockey and pool table too.
THE DIGITAL PLATFORM
With a thoughtful set of onboarding questions, THRVE is able to uniquely tailor resources and connections to each individual or family’s needs. The app can suggest connections between compatible members who are seeking similar things. Trans youth and their families deserve thoughtful access to resources that will guide them toward becoming the best versions of themselves, and access to a community 24/7 that can make them feel less alone.
APP KEY FEATURES
Based on a user’s onboarding the platform populates community members that are looking for similar things.
A drop down of a member’s location, interests, and what they are looking for can be viewed.
Connect and Message:
Easily toggling between Youth and Family community members to add new folx to your network and start conversations.
Compose new messages to members of your community. Create a group or private message.
Keep up with your connections, make plans to meet up, hang out, and go to events at THRVE.
Easy toggling between Youth and Family community members to start new conversations.
If the user knows what they’re looking for they can type in keywords or phrases.
Categories and Subtopics:
Filter by article, book, news, etc. As well as, subtopic: mental health, transition, etc. Suggestions are tailored to the user based on their onboarding preferences.
Saving and Sharing:
A resource can be shared with other individuals or groups. The resource can be saved in a collection under its category and subtopic, so it can be easily re-accessed.
The fight for trans folx rights, representation, and visibility.
The latest estimate suggests that there are about 1.6 million transgender adults in the US—
that’s six transgender people among every thousand adults—and younger individuals are more likely to be openly transgender.
Yet, according to a Glaad study, 84% of Americans don’t personally know someone who is transgender.
This also means trans youth oftentimes don’t personally know another trans person in their everyday life. Thus, most impressions about trans individuals come from the media, including those trans individuals who are trying to decipher their own self-perceptions and identity.
In the United States, it is evident that there is a visibility paradox for trans folx.
Due to a lack of visibility, there isn’t proper education around gender dysphoria and transitioning not only for trans youth but also for their families. Trans children and their families shouldn’t have to navigate transition alone—they need a way to connect with one another in order to learn, grow, and build their own communities.
Design artifacts and assets
The color palette and typefaces were chosen to feel friendly and welcoming. The brand colors are hues that can be found in nature to echo the idea that "transitions are natural".
THRIVE WITHOUT THE "I"
It’s pronounced thrive. We didn’t forget the I. We just don’t believe there’s a place for it here. Because in order to thrive, we need people by our sides, people fighting for us when we can’t, speaking up for us when we’re scared to, and protecting us when we’re the most vulnerable.
So no, no I allowed.
Wireframing helped us map out and organize the key features of the digital platform. This allowed us to quickly plan out the screens that would need to be built for our high fidelity prototype.