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TRANS CLIENTS SPEAK: 110 therapist & allies gather for trans education
On the warm evening of Tuesday, April 21st at 6pm, over 110 therapists, mental health practitioners, and therapists-in-training
On the warm evening of Tuesday, April 21st at 6pm, over 110
therapists, mental health practitioners, and therapists-in-training
across the Bay Area filled Namaste Hall at the California Institute of
Integral Studies (CIIS) to hear directly from transgender and gender
queer clients and consumers of therapy and mental health services.
Trans Clients Speak: A Transgender Educational Panel for
Psychotherapists and Mental Health Practitioners created a rare
opportunity for transgender and genderqueer people to speak about
their helpful, insulting, insensitive, uplifting, pathologizing,
plaguing, empowering, and healing experiences with therapists. Three
professional videographers documented this unique evening. An
educational DVD for therapists, students, and allies will be released
in the fall.
Among a multiplicity of important stories and statements, the four
panelists addressed: why they've accessed mental health services, what
has been supportive, what was harmful, and their ideal vision of
therapy services for trans folks to come. Panelists addressed
specifics such as: how to create respectful forms; making waiting
rooms and offices more inviting to trans folks; the negative impact on
the therapeutic relationship when therapists act as gatekeepers to
hormones and surgeries; and a desire for therapists to give up
assumptions around trans and gender queer identities and sexualities.
Several panelists spoke about their desire for non-trans-related
therapy, just like non-trans clients receive. Inspired by the event,
several audience members shared with event organizers ways they are
now in the process of creating new programs and respectful practices
in their organizations.
Two CIIS counseling psychology graduate students, Philipe Lonestar, a
genderqueer-identified student of Expressive Arts Therapy and social
justice organizer who works with LGBTQ youth and allies, and Elijah
Nella, a transgender Integral Counseling Student and HIV Test
Counselor who is starting practicum this fall at New Leaf, have worked
with the panelists to organize this event since December.
The four unique panelists took turns sharing about their lives and
experiences accessing mental health service. Ms. Billie Cooper, a
trans-health advocate, a trans-peer educator, who volunteers at The
Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP);
Tonilyn Sideco, a social justice/community theater creator and
filmmaker who has worked with the go/get out queer youth program and
the Queer Youth Action Projects at LYRIC; Dylan Vade, a transgender
educator and attorney who co-founded the Transgender Law Center in San
Francisco; and Clair Farley, a committed community leader and mentor
working to support LGBTQQ youth as the Economic Development
Coordinator for the Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative
(TEEI), shared their honesty and vulnerability in addressing their
personal experiences with mental health and psychotherapy services.
This historic event was the product of over a dozen CIIS and community
volunteers who care about affordable, dignified, and accessible
healthcare for all people. The panel was sponsored by CIIS Student
Alliance, UNITE!, and the CIIS Diversity Program.
Elijah and Philipe welcome any feedback about the event or future
events at transclientsspeak [at] gmail.com. If anyone is inspired to create
another panel to amplify the voices of another group of people who are
marginalized by the healthcare system, Philipe and Elijah are offering
support to make these events possible. Please email
transclientsspeak [at] gmail.com if interested.
Look out for the TRANS CLIENTS SPEAK DVD that will be available on
pre-sale this summer!