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The Value of Parent Support Groups 495 400 CJ Bourque

The Value of Parent Support Groups

The Value of Parent Support Groups

By Jess Furrer

If you had access to a time-machine, what period of your life would you revisit? For some adults, maybe revisiting a favorite family memory, when your child was a certain age, or your own childhood. How many adults would like to revisit or re-live your teenage years? For me, the idea of reliving my teenage years is a resounding NO.

Adolescence can be difficult to navigate for a myriad of reasons. Teenagers are often trying to figure out who they are and what they feel, while also wanting to create and keep friendships or relationships. It is a lot to navigate for a teenager on top of going to school, being active on social media, and being encouraged to plan for the future. LGBTQIA+ and autistic teenagers often must navigate more complex situations like coming out, discrimination, being misgendered, managing sensory needs, communication differences, and the list goes on. Parenting a teenager who is going through any or all of these experiences can also be challenging, confusing, or nerve-wracking. But family acceptance and support can make a huge difference in the overall wellbeing of LGBTQ+ and neurodivergent youth.

Joining a parent support group is a wonderful resource for parents of LGBTQIA+ Autistic teens as it can be comforting and empowering to talk with fellow parents who are on the same journey.

Can you explain what a parent education and support group is all about?

A parent education and support group is a safe space where parents and caregivers alike come together to learn about specific topics, and connect, relate, and support one another. Participants are often able to share their stories of parenthood, exchange resources, and build relationships with others who hold similar experiences.

Current Groups:

Due to positive feedback from previous participants, Kaleidoscope is re-offering a six-week, parent education and support group that focuses on the intersection between Autism and LGBTQIA+ identities. The group is designed to provide psychoeducation and support to parents and close family members of LGBTQIA+ Autistic teens aged 12-17. The group is 1.5 hours in length for six weeks. It is guided by a Kaleidoscope psychology doctoral intern who provides psychoeducation and facilitates group conversations. Each week there is a specialized topic including: mental health, friendships and online relationships, dating and sex, and managing difficult moments (meltdowns and pathological (persistent) demand avoidance). If various parents want support on another related topic, we aim to make space to address it.

What would you say to a parent that would like to attend our parent support group but feels a bit nervous about it? What can they expect?

It’s natural and normal to feel nervous about trying something new. Participants can expect to enter a judgment-free zone where they can truly explore their journey in parenthood. Whether it’s by sharing their own story or listening to others, participants often report feeling less alone and/or feeling more empowered after engaging in our parent education and support group. There is no expectation to “have it all figured out.” We just ask that interested participants have the intention of affirming their teen, are open to discussing complex topics, and interact from a place of curiosity and respect.

Sometimes parents are worried about using the correct terminology when speaking about their LGBTQIA+ kids or about LGBTQIA+ issues in general. Do you think a parent support group can help address these concerns?

We are all human, and mistakes (aka opportunities for growth) will happen. Kaleidoscope provides a safe environment with unconditional positive regard to encourage group participants in their understanding of LGBTQIA+ and autistic topics and their ability to engage more inclusively with the community. Remember, we’re in this together!

To join this support group for parents and close family members of LGBTQIA+ Autistic teens aged 12-17, please reach out to Jess Furrer to set up an intake session at [email protected].

Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month 495 401 CJ Bourque

Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month

Celebrating LGBTQ+ History Month

LGBTQ+ History Month, a month-long celebration that occurs in October was first celebrated in the United States in 1994, when Rodney Wilson, an openly gay high school teacher from Missouri, passionately advocated for the idea of dedicating a month to honor gay and lesbian history. With the already established National Coming Out Day on October 11th, and the anniversary of the first march on Washington for gay and lesbian rights in 1979, October was chosen not only for its historical significance, but also because it’s a month when students are in school. This allows a wonderful opportunity to educate and engage kids of all ages in meaningful and age-appropriate conversations about LGBTQ history.

Why is it important for students to learn about LGBTQ+ History?

Creating an environment of inclusion promotes engagement for all students and provides them with opportunities to explore the many experiences of LGBTQIA+ people. Research indicates that when LGBTQIA+ people and events are excluded from history curricula, it perpetuates negative stereotypes about the LGBTQIA+ community and increases bullying of LGBTQIA+ young people. Curriculum that includes positive representations, however, helps promote respect for LGBTQIA+ students and improve all students’ overall school experience by promoting diversity and teaching them about the variety of identities in their communities.

How can you celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month with your students?

1.Use LGBTQ+ Primary Sources Into your Lessons

From the American Revolution to Early 20th Century Immigration to World War II, the California History Social Science Project has created amazing lesson plans featuring a collection of LGBTQ+ primary sources designed for use in the K-12 classroom. Each set includes context, focus questions, further readings, and a plethora of primary sources to help teachers infuse their curriculum with LGBTQ voices. Check out the project here!

2. Build an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Classroom Library or Request One

Do you want to incorporate more LGBTQ+ themed books into your library classroom but don’t know where to start? Check out the links below for age-appropriate reading material for K-12.

LGBTQ+ Children’s Books
LGBTQ+ Middle Grade Books
LGBTQ+ Young Adult Books

You can also check out the Rainbow Library Project through GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network). The Rainbow Library Project is a program that sends LGBTQ+ affirming K-12 to select states for free!

Kaleidoscope acknowledges that in many parts of the country, having LGBTQ+ inclusive literature in the classroom may not be possible. If you do not feel able or safe to incorporate books into the classroom but would still like your students to have access, individuals ages 13-21 residing anywhere in the United States can apply for a free BPL eCard, providing access to Brooklyn Library’s full eBook collection as well as their learning databases. To apply, have your students’ email [email protected].

3. Feature LGBTQ+ Classroom Decorations

Inclusive lessons can also include classroom décor! There are many ways to visually represent the many contributions of the LGBTQIA+ community. For example, in elementary schools, a family tree wall could include images of families featuring two moms or two dads to show the many different ways families are made. In history or social studies classrooms, teachers and other staff can feature photos of LGBTQIA+ political leaders or images of demonstrations for equality. In secondary learning spaces, the rainbow flag could be displayed with information about its origin and significance.

This month, Kaleidoscope is proud to be celebrating by providing LGBTQ+ History Resources to our local GSA, where they will learn about LGBTQ+ trailblazers throughout history through LGBTQ+ History Flashcards. We will also be showing our support for National Coming Out Day by offering our new counseling staff LGBTQ+ regalia to hang in their offices to signal that they are affirming providers for clients and they are safe to be their authentic selves.

Want to find out more ways to bring LGBTQ+ history to your classroom or other educational settings for youth? Email us at [email protected] for fun ideas and lesson plans to bring LGBTQ+ activists and leaders to life. From all of us, wishing you a joyous LGBTQ+ History Month.

How to Create a Safe and Inclusive Atmosphere for your LGBTQ+ Students 495 401 CJ Bourque

How to Create a Safe and Inclusive Atmosphere for your LGBTQ+ Students

How to Create a Safe and Inclusive Atmosphere for your LGBTQ+ Students

Going back to school can cause a variety of emotions for students, and LGBTQ+ students are no exception. Many queer and transgender young people have a particular set of challenges to navigate in school settings. With Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation at an all time high,  the mental health impact of our LGBTQ+ students is even greater.

The Trevor Projects’ National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health reports:

  • 6 in 10 LGBT students report feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
  • LGBTQ youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers

It is important to emphasize that LGBTQ youth are not inherently prone to suicide risk and mental health issues because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but are at higher risk because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society. (Trevor Project, 2022)

As a teacher, staff or other student support individual, here is the statistic that is most important to remember:

LGBTQ youth who report having at least one accepting adult in their lives are 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year. Teachers and school staff can make a profound difference in their LGBTQ+ students’ lives by showing them support, affirmation and acceptance. Being an accepting adult could save one of your students’ lives.

Here are some simple but meaningful ways that you can be an affirming adult for your students:

Ask Your Students at the Beginning of the School Year How You Should Refer to Them

Some students may use a different name or pronouns than you may first assume. Some students are in the process of changing their pronouns or names. One helpful tool is creating a “getting to know you” form that includes asking students what pronouns and name they would like you to use for them at the beginning of the school year. Because some students live in homes that do not affirm their identity, make sure to ask whether or not it’s okay to use these pronouns and name when speaking with their parents or caregivers. This form is a great tool for any educator getting started.

Re-Think Your Use of Gendered Language

Most of us have been raised to think of gender as a binary (something consisting of just two parts). In this case, it is the idea that there are only two genders: male/female, boy/girl. Expanding your vocabulary and using non gendered language is one of the simplest but most affirming ways to create an inclusive atmosphere for all students,  and to also avoid misgendering students. Instead of saying “boys and girls” or “ladies and gentlemen,” try “folks”, “everyone” or “friends” when addressing your classroom or groups of students. Use your students’ names as opposed to referring to them with “Mr. or Ms.”

Be Visible

Many people in the LGBTQ+ community, youth and adults alike, rely on non-verbal cues to know whether someone or somewhere is safe and accepting. Small items like a rainbow flag, a safe space sticker, a rainbow lanyard to hold your ID badge, or a pronoun pin that says your own pronouns can be a visible signal to your students that you are going to affirm and support their identity.  To make your classroom or office as welcoming as possible, here’s an amazing and free Safe Space Kit from an organization called GLSEN that offers free downloadable safe space posters  and other LGBTQ+ affirming items.

Be Vocal

Part of being visible also means being vocal and standing up to anti-LGBTQ language and behaviors.  If anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination happens at school and is not addressed by adults, this sends a message to your students that this behavior is acceptable. The Human Rights Campaign offers a variety of helpful tools to help you stop harassment as opposed to ignoring it, be proactive, and educate your students.

Keep an Open Mind & Remember It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

Do you have a student whose identity you don’t completely understand? Maybe you keep slipping up on pronouns, or feel like you don’t know the right terminology? It’s okay to make mistakes or not understand everything right away. The most important part is to keep an open mind, apologize when you make a mistake, and be committed to continually getting to know your students. Need a few more definitions, or a refresher on some LGBTQ+ terminology? Here’s a helpful glossary that can help shed light on the subject!

Consider Starting a GSA or Other LGBTQ+ Club at Your School

Being the adult advisor or leader of your school’s GSA can go a long way toward creating a safer and more welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ students. If you need help getting started, the GSA Network’s 10 Steps to Creating a GSA is an amazing resource! Need more help? Kaleidoscope is happy to provide you with even more resources to help kick start your GSA or other LGBTQ+ space. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected].

Kaleidoscope is so deeply appreciative of all our teachers and educators around the world who are working to make schools a safer and more inclusive place for LGBTQ+ youth. Wishing you a wonderful back to school season!

How Anti Trans Legislation is Impacting our Transgender Youth 495 401 CJ Bourque

How Anti Trans Legislation is Impacting our Transgender Youth

How Anti Trans Legislation is Impacting our Transgender Youth

By Jay Baldwin

The American Civil Liberties Union is currently tracking nearly 500 anti-LGBTQ bills in the United States that have been introduced since the start of 2023. It is staggering to realize that this already is nearly twice the number of anti-LGBTQ bills that were introduced just one year ago in 2022. Despite the existence of the First Amendment, which affords us the right to free expression, many politicians are determined to stomp on free speech and expression for LGBTQ people, limiting access to books about the community and trying to ban or censor performances like drag shows. When it comes to the transgender and gender diverse community, many of these bills aim to restrict or eliminate entirely transgender youth’s access to trans affirming health care, ability to participate in sports that align with their gender identity, or their ability to be fully protected and included in school wide policies. In the first half of 2023 alone, 19 states have enacted bans or significant new restrictions on gender-affirming care for minors, most ending the use of cross-sex hormones and puberty blockers. For the first time in its four-decade history, the Human Rights Campaign has declared a National State of Emergency of LGBTQ+ Americans.

With so much of this legislation specifically targeting the transgender community, it goes without saying that these measures have had significant mental health tolls on our young people. The Trevor Project’s 2023 U.S. National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People captures the experiences of more than 28,000 LGBTQ young people ages 13 to 24 across the United States. Nearly 1 in 3 LGBTQ young people said their mental health was poor most of the time or always due to anti-LGBTQ policies and legislation. Over 40% of LGBTQ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year—and young people who are transgender, nonbinary, and/or people of color reported higher rates than their white cisgender LGBTQ peers.

With such stark statistics, it can be easy to feel helpless. And yet, even in the face of this national state of emergency for LGBTQ people, and our trans youth specifically, there are still encouraging statistics. LGBTQ young people who had access to affirming homes, schools, community events, and online spaces reported lower rates of attempted suicide compared to those who did not. If you know a youth who is in need of mental health support through individual counseling, don’t hesitate to inquire about our LGBTQ+ affirming therapy services by filling out this form.

In addition, sexual minorities who participate in LGBTQ activism tend to have enhanced psychological well-being. Kaleidoscope is proud to offer our LGBTQ+ and neurodiverse young people an opportunity to work together and make meaningful contributions to their LGBTQ+ community through the Youth Council Leadership Program. Youth leaders serve for 2 hours per month and help Kaleidoscope plan social events for youth, give us feedback on our services, and contribute ideas for future programming.

And lastly, if you or a youth you know is in immediate crisis or just needs a supportive listener, the Trans Lifeline Hotline is a peer support phone service run by trans people for our trans and questioning peers.

Looking for other ways to support transgender youth?

Check out A Guide to Being an Ally for Trans and Non Binary Youth.

From all of us at Kaleidoscope, we want our Trans community to know that we see you, we hear you, and we uplift your stories and voices.

Pride Month 2023 Recap 495 401 CJ Bourque

Pride Month 2023 Recap

Pride Month 2023 Recap

By Jay Baldwin

Pride Month is always exciting for Kaleidoscope, and this June was no exception, as we proudly participated in numerous pride events across Los Angeles. (And in case you missed our last post about the History of Pride Month, or want to learn more about why the LGBTQ+ community celebrates Pride every year, click here!)

But how exactly did we celebrate pride and drum up support for the LGBTQ+ community? Let’s get into it.

Kaleidoscope at Weho Pride

We kicked off Pride Month at WeHo Pride on June 3th, where Pride has been celebrated since 1979. WeHo pride is considered one of the largest pride events in the country, boasting tens of thousands of individuals from the LGBTQ+ community as well as their allies. Despite the fact that 2023 has seen some of the highest number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills of the past few years, I was struck by the fact that still, our community showed up to shout, cheer, chant, celebrate and not back down.

As an organization that serves LGBTQ+ youth, I was particularly moved by families with children who approached our booth, showed support, sought out resources for the LGBTQ+ young people in their lives, and took away our rainbow themed give aways with smiles on their faces. LGBTQ+ youth are under significant attack right now in the U.S., and the power of affirming parents and caregivers to change and save these young lives cannot be overstated.

Kaleidoscope at LA Pride & Beyond

The celebration continued at LA Pride on June 11th. We were truly honored to be a beneficiary of Cheer LA’s fundraising for the third year in a row and to march alongside them in the LA Pride Parade. Cheer LA is an active group of volunteers seeking to promote awareness, spirit, and diversity in the LGBTQ+ community through dynamic cheer, dance, and stunt performances, and we were honored to receive a generous donation from their fundraising efforts.

We continued to celebrate and bring awareness to our program by taking part in San Fernando Valley Pride on June 24. This was a smaller pride event geared toward building up and spreading awareness of the ever-growing LGBTQ+ community in San Fernando Valley. It was amazing to see how many LGBTQ+ affirming resources there are in this part of Los Angeles County. We made connections with educators, community leaders, social workers, parents, caregivers and LGBTQ+ youth, and were very excited to see Caroline Menjivar, one of the major sponsors and organizers of this year’s Pride event. Caroline is a California State Senator of the 20th District, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and an important member of Kaleidoscope’s Advisory Board.

Kaleidoscope’s Pride Month Webcast

And finally, Kaleidoscope took the opportunity to offer our support and guidance to parents and givers of LGBTQ+ youth by providing a pride month webcast on June 21st titled, “Navigating Your Child’s Coming Out Journey Together.” This free webcast offered practical strategies and suggestions for understanding the coming out process for young people, exploring and normalizing common reactions when a child comes out, and learning how to compassionately support you and your child during their coming out process If you missed it or would like to re-watch it, please click HERE for the recording.

While June is the biggest month of celebration in the LGBTQ+ community, Kaleidoscope is proud to affirm our LGBTQ+ and neurodiverse young people all year long. If you or someone you know are seeking resources, support or just have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected].

Here is to being affirmed, seen and loved, today and every day.

Celebrating Pride Month 2023 495 401 CJ Bourque

Celebrating Pride Month 2023

Celebrating Pride Month 2023

By Leo Kirkham and Jay Baldwin

Pride Month is a time to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and all that we have accomplished. It is also a time to raise awareness of the challenges that LGBTQIA+ people still face.

Pride Month is celebrated every June to honor the LGBTQ+ community and our fight for equal rights. It began with the Stonewall Uprising in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, when LGBTQ+ people in New York City protested against police brutality and discrimination during a police bar raid of a gay bar, the Stonewall Inn. The riots are widely considered to be a turning point in the LGBTQ+ rights movement.

The first Pride parade was held on June 28, 1970 in New York City to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. It was organized by “Mother of Pride,” Brenda Howard, a bisexual rights activist and feminist.

The second Pride parades were held in 1971 in various cities in the United States, including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

The Stonewall Riots sparked a movement that has grown into a global celebration of love, acceptance, and diversity. Today, Pride Month is a time for LGBTQ+ people and allies to come together, celebrate their identities, and continue fighting for equality.

This year, Pride Month is particularly important because of the recent wave of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation that has been passed in the United States. These laws have made it more difficult for LGBTQIA+ people to live their lives freely and openly.

In light of these challenges, it is more important than ever to celebrate Pride Month and to show support for the LGBTQIA+ community. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Attend a Pride parade or festival, such as WeHo Pride or LA Pride.
  • Donate to LGBTQIA+ organizations, such as Kaleidoscope.
  • Talk to your friends and family about LGBTQIA+ issues.
  • Use your voice to speak out against discrimination.
  • Ask your workplace to host an LGBTQ competency training.

If you aren’t out yet, don’t feel ready to come out, or maybe it’s not safe for you to be your authentic self with your family or friends, please know that you are not alone. There are many ways to acknowledge pride month, take part in pride events, or engage in a form of self care that honors your authentic self. There is no right or wrong way to be during Pride Month. Here are a few things we suggest trying out if you want to have a pride celebration privately, are just getting started in your journey, or just want a quieter activity.

Kaleidoscope is proud to affirm our LGBTQ+ community, especially our LGBTQ+ young people. If you do feel safe and ready to be part of a pride event in person, come celebrate with us on June 23rd from 6-8PM at our annual Pride Party in Sherman Oaks for LGBTQ+ youth ages 11-17. RSVP here!

From all of us at Kaleidoscope, wishing you a safe, heathy and joyous pride month, no matter how you choose to celebrate.

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia
International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia 495 401 CJ Bourque

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia

International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia

By Leo Kirkham

The International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia is celebrated on May 17 every year.

The holiday was imagined in 2004 by grassroots activists, and commemorated for the first time on May 17, 2005. The day of May 17 was chosen to represent the day in 1990 that the World Health Organization removed “homosexuality” from its classifications of mental disorders.

The committee of grassroots activists went by the acronym IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia). In 2009, the phrase transphobia was added to recognize the violence and discrimination against transgender people. By 2015, biphobia was added as well, to recognize the unique discrimination experienced by bisexual, pansexual, and other multisexual people. The complete acronym is now IDAHOBIT, recognizing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people together.

Petitions were launched by IDAHOBIT in 2005 and 2009, attracting historical support from many non-profit organizations and countries across the world. In 2005, activities for the day took place worldwide, including the first LGBTQ events ever to take place in the Congo, China, and Bulgaria. In 2009, when transphobia was added to the campaign, the petition was supported by more than 300 non-governmental organizations from more than 75 countries, as well as three Nobel Prize winners. Shortly before May 17, 2009, France became the first country in the world to remove transgender people from their list of mental disorders.

The goal of the day is to create an event that can be visible at the global level without requiring a specific form of action, allowing LGBTQ people and allies to approach the day in a way that feels authentic and actionable for them. Petitions, protests, marches, letters to newspapers, letters to politicians, celebrations, and more are welcome on the IDAHOBIT. The goal is a worldwide day of raising awareness and taking action.

How will you take action this May 17?

  • Post on social media: Find an IDAHOBIT media kit here and here and post with the hashtag #IDAHOBIT2023
  • Join your local school board meetings and speak up in support of LGBTQ students
  • Join your local neighborhood council meetings and speak up in support of LGBTQ rights in your neighborhood
  • Write to your local politicians and vote!
  • Write a letter to the editor for your local paper supporting transgender rights
  • Listen to music by transgender musicians
  • Watch TV and movies starring transgender actors
  • And last but not least, VOLUNTEER with Kaleidoscope! We can use your help this summer, whether it’s at a social event or a resource fair, to support our LGBTQ+ youth and give them safe spaces to connect with each other and be their authentic selves.

From all of us at Kaleidoscope, thank you for reading and taking the time to honor International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia.

Allies: Speak Up on the Day of Silence
Allies: Speak up on the Day of Silence 496 401 CJ Bourque

Allies: Speak up on the Day of Silence

Allies: Speak Up on the Day of Silence

Allies: Speak up on the Day of Silence

By Leo Kirkham

We all remember – or for some of us, currently experience – how cruel kids can be in school. Bullying is a major problem for students who are marginalized in some way, whether it’s kids of color experiencing racism, disabled children experiencing ableism, or LGBTQ kids experiencing homophobia and transphobia.

52% of LGBTQ middle and high school students report being bullied in school or over the internet. These numbers are higher for middle schoolers (65%), transgender and nonbinary students (61%), Native and Indigenous students (70%), and multiracial students (54%).

Mistreatment by others, including bullying, is a strong and consistent risk factor for youth suicide. Youth who are bullied are three times more likely to attempt suicide. This is true whether the bullying takes place in person at school or online.

However, LGBTQ students who report that their schools are LGBTQ-affirming are less likely to be bullied, by 30% (The Trevor Project).

Started in the mid-90s by two college students, the National Day of Silence is an annual day of action to raise awareness about the effects of bullying and harassment against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning students. Students – both LGBTQ and allies – who participate in the Day of Silence spend the entire day without speaking, to represent the way that bullying and harassment silences LGBTQ youth.

What can you do to honor the Day of Silence? Speak up! LGBTQ youth need adult allies to talk to their school administrators and teachers. Attend a school board meeting and voice your support for an LGBTQ-affirming school environment and anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies. Support LGBTQ-history and inclusive sex education. Support gender-neutral bathrooms in your local schools. A great example of affirming and safe spaces are The Help Group schools and Kaleidoscope programs.

Bullying is a significant area of concern for LGBTQ youth, particularly Native youth, transgender and nonbinary youth, and middle school students. Taking action to support bullied students can save lives.

For resources and support on how to support your LGBTQ+ students and youth, please reach out to us with any questions at [email protected].

Celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility
Celebrating National Transgender Day of Visibility 495 400 CJ Bourque

Celebrating National Transgender Day of Visibility

Celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility

Celebrating National Transgender Day of Visibility 2023

By Leo Kirkham

National Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrated on March 31, was founded in 2009 by transgender activist Rachel Crandall as a response to the lack of holidays celebrating transgender people, citing frustration that the only well-known transgender holiday was the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Transgender Day of Visibility is a day to celebrate the transgender community and our diverse experiences and identities. It is a day to celebrate trans joy and the ways that transgender people are alive and well and living joyous, fulfilling lives.

Yes, trans people experience discrimination and tragedy, but that is not our whole story. We also experience love, friendship, happiness, chosen family, and long, happy lives. Here are five ways to celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility and honor your transgender sisters, brothers, and siblings.

1. Attend or volunteer at a local Transgender Day of Visibility event and celebrate with others in the community.

2. Follow and engage with transgender advocates and organizations on social media. Some people and groups to follow are:

3. Reach out to transgender people in your life and show them your support.

  • Check in about your loved one’s pronouns and name – their feelings may have changed, and they may wish to be referred to by a different name or pronoun.
  • Ask if your loved one wants help legally changing their name or starting a medical transition.
  • Ask your loved one how you can best support them in their journey and identity.

4. Educate yourself on transgender-related topics to be more informed and to better understand the community.

Some topics to research include:

  • Transgender homelessness
  • Transgender employment
  • Transgender housing
  • Transgender healthcare access
  • Transgender mental health
  • Nonbinary identities
  • Transgender education, students’ rights in school
  • Transgender media representation
  • Violence against transgender people
  • Marginalization of transgender women of color; intersectionality

5. Donate to organizations that are working to advance transgender rights and equality.

From all of us at Kaleidoscope, we want our Trans community to know that we see you, we hear you, and we uplift your stories and voices.

National LGBTQ+ Health Awareness Week
National LGBTQ Health Awareness Week 495 401 CJ Bourque

National LGBTQ Health Awareness Week

National LGBTQ+ Health Awareness Week

National LGBTQ Health Awareness Week

By Leo Kirkham

Sponsored by the National Coalition for LGBTQ Health, the 21st annual National LGBTQ Health Awarness Week is March 20-24, 2023. This week celebrates good health for LGBTQ people, and brings awareness to the health disparities faced by the community.

Looking for therapy for a teen or young adult?  The Help Group’s Lumina Counseling has appointment availability throughout the week and weekends, both in-person and online. To schedule an appointment or inquire for more information, call 818-779-5100 or visit our website to get started.

What is a health disparity?

A health disparity happens when one group of people has a different health outcome than another group, all other things being equal. For example, Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. This has to do with many factors – racial discrimination from healthcare providers, financial barriers to obtaining medical care, cultural norms around preventative breast cancer screenings (such as a white actress being chosen for a breast cancer screening commercial), and racism at a systemic level that keeps all of these connected factors in place.

For the LGBTQ community, health disparities are strongly related to discrimination, hostility, and social rejection. Whether it is from a family member, friend, teacher, boss, doctor, or another person, discriminatory behavior and words have an impact on the health of LGBTQ people.

Specifically, LGBTQ people have poorer outcomes with mental health, physical health, and access to healthcare. LGBTQ people are at a greater risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts and behaviors, mood disorders and anxiety, eating disorders, alcohol and substance use, and tobacco use.

These mental health concerns tie into physical health, such as liver disease, lung disease, heart disease, chronic pain, and the many health impacts of eating disorders. Those suffering from mental health distress may also be more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, which can lead to trauma, STIs, and unwanted pregnancy. Gay and bisexual men are at a higher risk of HIV, as are transgender women, Black men, and Latino men. Lesbian and bisexual women and transgender men are at a higher risk of breast cancer (source).

Access is also an issue. LGBTQ people are less likely to have a regular healthcare provider or health insurance. Older LGBTQ adults report poorer health, more chronic conditions, and less social support. LGBTQ people are also more likely to report poor quality healthcare, unfair treatment by providers, and general lack of cultural competence by providers.

What causes these disparities for this population?

First, the minority status of LGBTQ people causes stress. Stress is a leading cause of both mental and physical health problems.

Discrimination against LGBTQ people creates systemic barriers to accessing quality healthcare. Discrimination and harassment in the workplace against queer and transgender employees makes it more difficult for LGBTQ people to stay employed at queer-friendly jobs that provide healthcare. Discrimination from healthcare providers themselves creates lasting harm for LGBTQ patients, who carry trauma and fear around medical care for the rest of their lives. 15% of LGBTQ people report delaying care or avoiding care altogether as a result of fear of discrimination. This number doubles to 30% for transgender patients (source).

Even a well-meaning doctor who considers themself an ally to the LGBTQ community can cause harm to an LGBTQ patient through ignorance and lack of knowledge. Many transgender patients find themselves doing research on transition care and teaching their own doctors how to care for them. 1 in 3 transgender patients have reported needing to teach their doctor about their identity in order to receive adequate care (source). Medical schools do not teach hormone therapy as a standard practice; a general practitioner would have to actively seek out education in this area to become informed. The lack of education around LGBTQ health issues and LGBTQ culture and identity creates a medical environment where LGBTQ people are not included, welcomed, or accommodated.

Many insurance plans do not cover transition-related healthcare procedures, such as hormones or surgery, or the cost of these procedures after insurance is still prohibitive for transgender people with higher rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness. Additionally, insurance plans sometimes mistakenly reject requests, such as rejecting a transgender man’s claim for a pap smear because his insurance profile reads as “male” (source).

Lastly, there is also a lack of clinical research on LGBTQ-related health issues. Where funding and research does not exist, neither does quality healthcare.

The good news is that change is being made. Advocates, students, medical professionals, and community members are working to improve the quality of healthcare that LGBTQ patients receive. Groups like the LA LGBT Center have programs like the Trans Wellness Center which provide low-cost transition-related health and wellness services for transgender and non-binary people in Los Angeles. Legislation like S.B. 107 in California will protect transgender children and their families fleeing states like Texas, Idaho, and Florida, which are trying to criminalize access to trans healthcare for youth.

If you are searching for an LGBTQ-affirming medical provider for yourself or your child, please see GLMA or OutCare.

Here’s to good health for us all.