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News In Brief 8/25/17

HOW TRANSGENDER AWARE ARE YOU?

Two weeks ago, my first grandchild was born.  At a certain point in my son and daughter-in-law’s expectant state, there was the inevitable (and much awaited, I’ll admit) ultrasound where genitalia could be observed, and the pronouncement, “It’s a ______,” could be made. 

Though we clearly live in a culture of gender binary bias, starting this early to identify gender should give us pause.  For me, as a psychologist of a certain age, graduate school training in treating transgendered clients and their loved ones was nonexistent.  But as I now am seeing more referrals related to transgender issues, I am in an ongoing process of obtaining further training. 

According to a meta-analysis published in Transgender Health and cited by Amy Wallace in a United Press International (May 4, 2017) article online, 51% of transgendered individuals surveyed within the last year had thought about suicide during their lifetimes.  Eleven percent made suicide attempts.  Family rejection statistically tripled the risk of a suicide attempt.  Not surprisingly then, suicide attempts and completions within the trans community are especially high in the 18 – 24 year old age range (see website for The Trevor Project below).  In a national study of transgendered adults, fully 40% reported having made a suicide attempt at some point in their lifetime (James, et al., 2016).  Episodes of harassment and abuse elevated the rate of self-injurious behaviors.

The need for us to educate ourselves is clear.  We need to learn the terminology, listen to the voices of courageous transgender people, and enlighten ourselves about cis-gender privilege in a gender binary world. 

To begin this process, I’ve pulled together what I believe are especially helpful websites and online offerings:

Find these compelling TED talks and documentaries online:

  • Norman Spack, MD – TED “How I help transgender teens become who they want to be”  (Pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital in Boston. Gender orientation vs. gender identity.  So-called “blocking hormones” vs. transition hormones to put choices on hold and buy time for youth to decide what gender they wish to affirm.)
  • “Laverne Cox presents the T-word” (Documentary)
  • Decker Moss – TEDx “Hey Doc, some boys are born girls”
  • Ty Turner – Several good videos on Youtube about the trans coming out process, physical changes over one year on hormone therapy, how peers have reacted, and how family reacted.  (Excellent as a play-and-pause exercise during therapy with youth.)
  • Yee Won Chong – TEDx “Beyond the binary”  (Contains tips on how to be a good ally and what it is like to navigate a binary world.)
  • Hari Nef – TEDx “The aesthetics of survival”  (Transgender women and feminism)
  • Danielle Carter – TEDx “The real pain and tragedy faced by transgender youth”
  • Ashley Wylde – Several Youtube videos.  (The Gender Tag Project)
  • Transgender Kids – “My Child is Transgender ” (Youtube Documentary)

Article: 

  • Eligon, J. “Transgender African-Americans’ Open Wound: ‘We’re  Considered  A Joke’ New York Times, 8/6/2017.  Read this article to: (1) get a sense of the specific and more numerous risks faced by trans black women than other trans individuals, and (2) anchor discussions of gender identity in a larger context of race relations in which people of color are targeted.

Hotlines/Crisis Support:

  • The Trevor Project – Website for LGBTQ youth and hotline: 866-488-7386
  • Trans Lifeline – Hotline for support, crisis, information and resources: 800-273-8255

Websites:

  • www.wpath.org  (World Professional Association for Transgender Health for internationally recognized Standards of Care for Transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals, information on educational conferences, medical necessity statements, and resources for clinicians and patients)
  • www.fenwayhealth.org  for info from the Fenway Institute in Boston which is devoted to the spectrum of health care, education, research and advocacy for LGBTQ+ communities
  • www.hrc.org (Human Rights Campaign) for resources for family members and partners

Other References:

  • James, S.E., Herman, J.L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L. & Anafi, M. (2016).  The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, Washington, DC:  National Center for Transgender Equality.

Finally, I encourage you to seek out and have available information about your nearest local support groups for LGBTQ+ youth and for their loved ones.

Ann Hotchkiss, PhD
NHPA Board of Directors, Member At Large
Chair, NHPA Human Resources Committee