How Can We Support The Transgender Community
Today, March 31, is known as International Transgender Day of Visibility. It is a day to raise awareness of the transgender population and the many challenges they face.
A Pew Research study released in June of 2022 found that approximately 1.6% of U.S. adults are transgender or nonbinary—meaning, their gender is different from the one they were assigned at birth. While that is a relatively low number, a growing number of people report that they know someone in their lives that is nonbinary — 44% or one in five— and more people are coming forward each day.
The transgender population faces a number of challenges, from societal and family discrimination to their own mental health struggles. And, while things like gender-neutral bathrooms and the use of pronouns are becoming more common, struggles for the transgender population continue on a daily basis.
At CW Psychological Services in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, we regularly work with transgender clients and others in the LGBTQ+ community to provide gender-affirming care. Increasing awareness and promoting support of these communities is very important to us, which is why we have created this list of ways we can be an ally to the transgender community.
What can we do to support the transgender community?
1.) Talk About It
Individuals that are nonbinary or transgender deserve to be acknowledged and treated just the same as anyone else. They exist at all ages and all races and nationalities. So, talk about it. Share this reality with your children and friends/family. Talk about differences and what it means to be respectful, kind, and compassionate toward others.
2.) Familiarize Yourself with Pronouns
Don’t assume that a person you are speaking with identifies as the sex they were assigned at birth. Ask those you meet what pronouns they prefer to be called—he/him, she/her, they, etc. Avoid using language like “ladies and gentlemen.” Instead, use inclusive language like “friends” or “colleagues.” Taking the moment to think and ask about pronouns is a sign of respect. Being called the wrong pronoun can be deeply painful.
3.) Be Mindful of Microaggressions
Microaggressions or backhanded comments can be extremely painful and harmful. These acts tend to reduce people to body parts instead of considering them as the whole person. Be careful to avoid pointing out things about their appearance by saying things like, “I never would have guessed you are trans. You look so good!” Or, “I could tell you are trans because of your voice or jawline.” Or, “It’s so cool I have a trans friend.” These things might sound harmless or even friendly but they can cut deep for the person on the other side of the comment.
4.) Educate Yourself
The best way to show support for the transgender community is to learn as much as possible and stay up-to-date on current terminology and laws. Learn what is appropriate to say and what might make someone uncomfortable. Educate yourself on the challenges of the trans community and continuously familiarize yourself with the correct language. Terminology and laws to protect or hurt the transgender community are changing at a rapid pace.
5.) Encourage Change
Whether it be in the workplace, schools, or government buildings, encourage positive changes that are more inclusive to transgender populations. Things like gender-neutral bathrooms, the use of proper pronouns, and mental health services can help provide the transgender community with support.
Helping Those Who Need Help Get It
If you or someone you know is struggling with their gender identity, don’t ignore them. Guide them to the proper channels of help. Help them to find a counseling professional that works with the transgender population and is supportive of their needs. Encourage them to make the phone call or help them to schedule an appointment for gender-affirming care.
Suicide risk is very real among the transgender population. A recent study found that 82% of transgender youth have considered suicide as an option and 40% have attempted suicide. Getting people the proper care can help them to feel comfortable and safe within their bodies and environment.
Ready to begin counseling in Pennsylvania?
Counselors and associate-level clinicians at CW Psychological Services are professionally trained and offer gender-affirming care. We have openings for online or telehealth therapy appointments. Email us at [email protected] or call (610) 308-7575. We are here for you.