Tag Archives: LGBT

#WeAreOrlando

By Julia Benjamin, Chair of the APAGS Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity (CSOGD)

And James J. García, Chair of the APAGS Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity (CARED)

Early Sunday morning, the deadliest mass shooting in United States history took the lives of 50 people. The community and countless individuals will bear scars from this attack for the rest of their lives. It occurred on “Latin Night” at an LGBT+-affirming nightclub during Pride month.

We are devastated. We are furious. We are scared. We are heartsick.

Orlando ribbonWe each attended vigils yesterday in remembrance of the victims and survivors, one in Tucson and one in Madison. They were separated by hundreds of miles but at each, we heard our feelings echoed by other voices. It was easy to feel overwhelmed as they spoke of the stark realities LGBT+ individuals face daily and the complex intersecting evils that contributed to this tragedy: fear for our safety, racism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, and the now real fear of guns. Yet through it all, the other themes that rang loud and clear were those of peace, solidarity, hope, and love.

As graduate students in psychology we are called on to use our knowledge and skills to fight oppression and provide support in times of trial. When the world feels complicated and broken, how can we take steps on our own campuses and in our own lives to hold onto hope and move toward healing systems and souls? Here are some practical things you can do, whether you identify as LGBT+ or as an ally:

  1. Show up
  • Attend the candlelight vigils that are being coordinated nationwide.
  • Get informed – learn about what’s going on, read here and here.
  • Stop by your campus or local city LGBT+ center to meet folks and offer solidarity; click here for the Campus Pride website.
  • Reach out to friends and loved ones, to provide and receive the social support that we know helps confer resilience in times of distress.
  • Show up for yourself – be sure to keep taking care of your own basic needs like sleep, a balanced diet, and exercise.
  1. Speak up
  • Write to your elected officials, U.S senators and representatives.
  • Share your feelings and thoughts and engage in dialogue through blogs, psychology-related listservs, and/or social media.
  • In the upcoming presidential elections, vote with your ballot.
  1. Step up

As more details of this event emerge in the coming days, let us remember that there are layers of complexity to this massacre. Also, let us remember the intersecting identities of those who were affected, as this shooting disproportionately affected people of color and our Latina/o LGBT+ family. Let us stand together with our allies in our mourning, fear, anger, and devastation, but also in our solidarity and hope for a more peaceful, accepting, and just society for all.

Florida

Adding your preferred pronouns to your email signature is one of many ways to advocate for and with transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. (Image source: DaveBleasdale on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

Signing on for Acceptance: Can Adding Your Gender Pronouns to Your Email Signature Make a Difference?

Adding your preferred pronouns to your email signature is one of many ways to advocate for and with transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. (Image source: DaveBleasdale on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

Adding your preferred pronouns to your email signature is one of many ways to advocate for and with transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals. (Image source: Dave Bleasdale on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

For many of us, especially those of us who hold more privileged identities, a trip to the doctor might not be enjoyable but we can at least assume we will receive relatively respectful service. However, for individuals who identify as transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC), seeking healthcare can be challenging and at times even dangerous.

According to a study conducted by Lambda Legal:

  • Over one quarter (27%) of TGNC individuals have reported being refused healthcare due to their gender identity.
  • 70% of TGNC people report having experienced explicit discrimination from healthcare professionals, including providers refusing to touch them or using excessive precautions, or blaming the individual for their health status.
  • More than one in five people who identify as TGNC reported experiencing harsh or abusive language from healthcare providers.
  • Nearly 8% of TGNC individuals stated they have experienced physically rough or abusive treatment.
  • TGNC people of color and people who are low-income reporting higher rates of these forms of mistreatment.

These negative interactions with the healthcare system serve as a barrier that prevents TGNC people from receiving sufficient medical treatment, leading to higher rates of preventable illnesses. (For a more personal look at the importance of inclusivity and acceptance in the healthcare setting, check out this video by NYC Health and Hospitals.)

It is clear that there is an urgent need to improve inclusivity for transgender and gender nonconforming people, not only in society at large, but also specifically in the healthcare contexts where we may be working. However, sometimes it can feel daunting to take on something as big as the healthcare system, not to mention society’s attitudes toward gender identity in general.

So what can we do about that as students?

This year healthcare professionals, including psychology students, have worked together to lead several initiatives to address these disparities. For example, Washington, DC recently passed the LGBTQ Cultural Competency Continuing Education Amendment Act that will require cultural competency training for all healthcare providers practicing in Washington DC on topics of sexual orientation and gender identity. It is believed to be the first bill of its kind in the nation to pass, but similar bills have been proposed in other states. Does your state have a bill like this in the works? Connect with your local government and LGBT advocacy organizations to find out!

In another effort that we all can directly participate in, Medical students at the University of Vermont and the Northeast Medical Student Queer Alliance are leading the charge on a simple but powerful way to promote greater awareness and inclusion for TGNC individuals. In honor of LGBTQ Health Awareness Week (Mar. 28-Apr. 1, 2016), they created the hashtag “#pushforpronouns” and are encouraging everyone to add their preferred pronouns into their email signature. (See what kind of traction #pushforpronouns is getting on Twitter.)

My email signature now reads:

“University of Wisconsin – Madison

Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program

APAGS Subcommittee Chair:

Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity

jzbenjam@gmail.com

Pronouns: She/her”

By including our preferred pronouns in email signatures, we normalize asking about the pronouns of others and volunteering our own pronouns. This can help create a more inclusive atmosphere for individuals who do identify as TGNC by indicating we are accepting of all gender identities and aware of the importance of using preferred pronouns. The direct presentation of pronouns may help challenge assumptions about the gender binary by encouraging email recipients in our communities and workplaces to think and talk about gender pronouns. In this way a small action, like adding our preferred pronouns to our email signature, may be one step along the pathway to creating a more inclusive and accepting society and healthcare system for all people.

Join us in the #pushforpronouns!