KITCHENER -- A Waterloo Region LGBTQ2+ group is developing a mental health promotion and suicide prevention tool kit to better support the transgender community.

Community group Spectrum is utilizing a $71,000 Canadian Women's Foundation grant to conduct a survey that centers trans voices before developing a resource tool kit.

"There will be strategies in there that they can follow that will hopefully help them," said project lead Melissa Paige Kennedy. "There will be pathways for them to reach out."

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Spectrum to shift its support sessions online, which triggered a significant drop in attendees.

The current lack of in-person supports helped inspire the idea for the tool kit.

"They need some way to know how to get support in an unsupportive environment," Kennedy said. "I see this as something that can benefit hundreds of transgender individuals in the community."

"I've had some dark times in the past and it helps to talk to somebody," said Lexi Watt, who came out as transgender six years ago.

"I can only imagine how hard it would be,” Watt said about people’s pandemic experiences.

An Ontario-wide survey called TransPulse, which examined the experience of transgender people in the province, found one in 10 trans people 16 and older have attempted suicide.

Finding medical care and mental health supports geared toward transgender people can often be difficult, said transgender social worker Washington Silk.

"It can be very difficult to navigate within the community during normal times, let alone during a pandemic," Silk said.

Spectrum's tool kit is expected to be available online and in print by the end of September.