Almost a year ago, following the swift and unexpected passage of North Carolina House Bill 2 , I wrote a love letter to the transgender community called, I’ll Go With You. Since I wrote that letter, members of the trans community, including trans and gender nonconforming youth, have continued to be targets of violence, disrespect, and what trans activist and lawyer, Dean Spade, calls administrative violence. I’ll spare my trans readers, who know this reality all too well, the potentially triggering details, but if you’re curious about what trans folks are up against here are a few links to follow:
Trump Administration Rescinds Obama Rule On Transgender Students' Bathroom Use
Survey Says: We Need To Educate Educators About The Rights Of LGBTQ Students
Gavin Grimm: What Supreme Court Announcement Means for Trans Rights
Latest H.B. 2 Repeal Proposal Still Discriminates
Violence Against Trans Women of Color
I encourage my trans clients to be discerning about their news intake: to take breaks when they are feeling overwhelmed or in despair or to avoid the news altogether until they are able to find their way to a more stable, emotionally-resourced place. (Note: Let me be clear that trans folks, my clients or otherwise, do not need me or anyone else to police their news consumption. These conversations usually occur when folks are feeling overwhelmed by the news, and are focused on helping them build resilience in their nervous system so that they can be more effective agents of change in their lives and the world.) Unfortunately, many of the places my clients find connection with other queer and trans people (read: the interwebs) can be filled with people and information hostile to their wellbeing. The reality of having to navigate landmines of frightening news and negativity when reaching out for support often causes folks to retreat, withdraw, and isolate, exacerbating the loneliness and despair they may already be feeling. The ability to orient toward resources of connection and support is vital to our survival. Humans are hardwired for connection, and when our attempts at connection are thwarted, we can wither like crops in a drought.
In that spirit of connection, I want to highlight some upcoming events here in Asheville focused on connecting trans folks and their families. I’ll start with what we’re offering here at Porch Light and then tell you about some great opportunities with our community partners.
On April 22nd from 2-4PM, as an extension of our Gender Creative Kids Play Group, Porch Light Counseling will be partnering with Tranzmission to offer a resource sharing meeting for trans youth and their families. Trans, non-binary, and gender creative youth of all ages and their families are invited to this free event where parents can connect while their kids hang out. Let us know if you can make it here: https://www.porchlightcounselingasheville.com/gender-creative-kids-play-group
One of the challenges facing trans youth and their families is finding mental health providers who feel confident and competent to support them through the process of gender transition. To support local clinicians wanting to improve their service to trans youth and to increase the number of providers available to serve these families, I’ll be offering a two hour training in the Ethical Treatment of Transgender Youth & Their Families. We’re still working out the date (hopefully in April), but it will likely be a Friday at lunch time. Stay tuned for updates here: https://www.porchlightcounselingasheville.com/training
This spring and summer, Porch Light Counseling will begin offering an occasional free, drop-in space for queer and trans people to build resilience through a program we’re calling “Breathing Room.” Sign up for our weekly newsletter to be notified of the first opportunity to connect. Learn more about Breathing Room here: www.porchlightcounselingasheville.com/breathing-room
Tranzmission offers a twice-monthly social support group for trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming individuals called the Asheville Transformers. Get the support group dates and details here: http://tranzmission.org/transformers-support-groups.html
UNCA’s annual F-word (Feminist) Film Festival will be screening an incredible documentary called “A Womb of Their Own” on March 22nd. The documentary follows “masculine-of-center-identified” people who experience pregnancy and navigate unwanted gender expectations from others, including members of the LGBT community. Details here: https://events.unca.edu/event/f-word-film-festival-womb-their-own
Heather Branham, LCSW, a therapist based in Asheville, NC, specializes in helping individuals, couples, and families navigate the complexities of gender identity and sexuality.