On September 30th, we celebrated Transgender Day of Empowerment with our partners, Gender-Identity Network Alliance (GNA), as we got to hang out with our community during their Embrace Your True Self event held at Wayne State University. Michelle Fox-Phillips, Executive Director of the GNA, reported that she was very pleased with the event, and that it stands out as one of GNA’s finest over the past 14 years of the groups’ existence. This is one of the many ways GNA supports different forms of gender identity through support programs and events. We want to thank those who attended the event, and we hope that you enjoyed the opportunity to connect with others in the community.
For those who were unable to attend, we hope this overview will help inspire and help you on your journey to empowerment and embracing your true self. Our day started with a wonderful keynote speech on transgender rights by Jay Kaplan with Michigan ACLU. In addition to updating us about key legal cases that affect our community, in this speech, he also emphasized how important it is to be informed on both national and local politics. Being educated on issues that affect you and the community and voting is one of the best ways to make your voice heard. We will have more information on #VotingWhileTrans in a later blog post, however, voting is an essential component to empowerment and we encourage you to vote in every election.
We also led a workshop with our Client Advocate, Jack Elliott Earls, and Executive Director, Brayden Misiolek, leading a group discussion on challenges that we have overcome and how we can use our strengths in other areas of life such as self-determination and intentionality.
It was a wonderful event and we were honored to have the opportunity to skill-build with those in our community, and share our stories of empowerment.
In honor of Trans Day of Empowerment, we also asked our team members about their thoughts and experiences with empowerment and found two common themes.
Although discovering your true self is a personal journey, members of our team agree that a support system is a great way to help. Our Mental Health Lead, Caitlin Tupper, LCSW says her clients “find it tremendously helpful to hear what TGNC folx have to suggest for enhancing body acceptance and cope with family acceptance or lack of acceptance.” Seeking and providing support to fellow members of the TGNC community can not only help with personal and shared strength, but help remind you that you are not alone.
If you are an ally, providing support to TGNC folx can also help empower them. Our Communications Strategist, Danielle Emerson, shared with us perspective “You [TGNC folx] are chiefs of your experiences. [As a Communications Strategist] I am not going to speak for you, but I’ll do whatever I can to raise your voices up and to get people to listen.” While she says her role is not to speak for the community, but instead “give you the tools for success in making your voice heard, because that is what matters.” Even when it comes to the daily, “most mundane, ordinary experiences, they are substantially different than mine. I recognize and respect that, and I think that’s the difference. I am not here for me. I’m here so one day, I don’t have to be.”
Through Transcend’s research, supported by University of Michigan, we have found that severe anxiety is prevalent in the community. The work we do with our clients through our TGNC-led services is focused on building resilience. While anxiety can be difficult to deal with, acknowledging its prevalence gives you the tools to identify how to take control of it. Examples from what our community reported in our research as effective ways to cope include: Practicing self-care and engaging in activism/advocacy work. These are two examples of ways you can find a sense of agency. Taking ownership of what you can control may help in your personal journey.
It is also important to acknowledge how far you have come. Often times it can be difficult to see progress, but it is worth it to look back and remember what you have discovered about yourself and how you have become stronger. By doing this, you can refocus the narrative of your journey and use your strengths to your advantage.
Reaching out for help can be difficult, but our community reported that this is very effective. From one of our respondents: “there is a whole community ready to hold you close.” Transcend’s mission is to be here as a central point where TGNC/enby folx of all ages can go to find whatever they may need, whether it’s hormone education or peer counseling. Our services are always free, and we support families and partners as well.
Our workshop was just a small glimpse into what our peer advocates offer through one-on-one supportive services. Our team is committed to empowering the community and their families beyond TDoE.
On an individual level, Transcend is a community-driven, community-led team focused on your well-being. Our team of pharmacists, doctor, social workers, therapist, and peer advocates are dedicated to providing you with the one-on-one support and resources needed in order to build confidence in your identity and determine the best path for yourself.
We are also committed to promoting change on a larger scale. Through our research and advocacy efforts, we raise awareness on the struggles and triumphs of the community and help educate medical care providers, allies, and workplaces on creating an affirming environment.