The past couple of years have been increasingly hard for gender expansive and transgender people of all ages. Hate crimes, trans loved ones murdered, and an onslaught of anti-trans legislations being passed in states around the US have led to a sense of growing fear, exhaustion, and even required some families to uproot their lives and re-locate to a state where their child can receive appropriate medical care. When articles or professionals reference the higher rates of things like anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, etc within trans populations, I really need them to understand the social contextual factors of this rather than letting it sit and seem like those things are specific to trans people as individuals. That’s not to say that none of us won’t just struggle with something like depression in our lifetime for other reasons, but we do have research that backs up the mental health impact of living in states with oppressive laws, and even being exposed to harmful rhetoric during legislative seasons, as well as just knowing your identity makes you a target for harassment or violence.
When the sense of dread starts to grow, the nausea takes over, we can pause and take strength from resistance that we see. Recently the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Board refused to implement the “don’t say gay” portions of the “Parent’s Rights” bill which would require school staff to out trans youth and refuse to honor their chosen names or pronouns. They did this because they know it’s the right thing to do, despite risking consequences from the State.
Campaign for Southern Equality (CSE) filed a Title IX complaint this week against the NC Dept of Public Instruction and State Board of Education for violating federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex. CSE has also been providing small grants to families who need to travel to access gender affirming care outside of their home state and rapid response organizing in states around the South facing hateful legislation. Other legal advocacy groups have been fighting fiercely this year as well.
We can take heart when we see courage and people fighting against this oppression in many ways. We can find ways to participate and support the movement.
And…trans folk need access to gender affirming therapy. We need a place to process the political environment we exist in, to grieve the loss of ones we loved, to figure out how to find ways to rest, and to address other things in our personal lives in a place with a therapist who is informed about our realities, the ways our intersectional identities affect our day to day, about how to help us access gender affirming medical care, and to connect with trans community. Maybe this person is even trans. Yes, trans therapists do exist! Whether working with an ally who is truly active alongside trans folk or a trans identified therapist, we deserve gender affirming, gender celebratory therapy!