For more transgender resources in Northern Nevada, please visit the Transgender Allies Group website: http://www.transgenderalliesgroup.org/resources.php
Transgender people need support, not shame
Dr. Tory Clark March 20, 2015
Our nation faces daily heartbreaking stories of children and teens that have committed suicide or been victims of violence because of their gender expression. They are routinely discriminated against in the job market and schooling system, labeled as deviant, bullied and harassed. One thousand three hundred transgender people in 60 countries worldwide were murdered between January 1, 2008 and October 31, 2013 — 68 of those murders occurred within the United States. They were killed because their mere existence was believed to challenge the assumptions of identity of men and women.
Most people do not understand what the term transgender means, and incorrectly assume that it is a sexual/deviant term with the same meaning as sexual orientation. It is important to understand that the term "transgender" has nothing to do with the act of sex or sexual orientation.
A few definitions for clarification:
Sexual orientation: An individual's physical and/or emotional attraction to the same and/or opposite gender
Gender identity: How one psychologically perceives oneself as either male or female
Transgender: A term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from their assigned sex at birth.
Although transgender people have existed from antiquity until the present day, recent movies, television, and the Internet have stimulated conversations about transgender people with the result that young people are coming out at increasingly earlier ages. It is estimated that one child in 500 is gender-nonconforming or transgender, and fifty-seven percent of these children report experiencing rejection from their family.
When a traditional family has a transgender member, many deal with them by alienating or dissuading them. The price of family rejection is paid by the entire family system. Recent research has consistently linked family rejection with increased risk of suicide, suicidal ideation (41% have attempted suicide, which is 25 times higher than the general population,) substance misuse, risky behaviors, and other mental and physical conditions. Parents, in their attempt to dissuade their child from a life they believe will bring them unhappiness, discrimination, and increased risk of harm, are unwittingly subjecting them to these very serious risks. Guilt, shame, and persuasion to conform force many children to run away and live secret lives in which they engage in risky behaviors in order to meet their needs and to survive. Parents and other family members suffer also by losing emotional, if not physical, contact with their loved one.
Support is slowly increasing for transgender people. In 2008, the American Psychological Association's Council of Representatives "adopted its Resolution on Transgender, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Nondiscrimination to support full equality and 'the legal and social recognition of transgender individuals consistent with their gender identity and expression.'" Also, the American Medical Association published a position paper that affirms the medical necessity of surgical and hormonal interventions for transgender people. These affirmations from major mental health organizations are a very large step toward acceptance from the professional community, which also lends support to families with a transgender family member.