PATHWAYS
An affirming newsletter for the gender variant community
In This Issue
Youth Events
Community Events
Practice Updates
What LGBT Youth Need From You
In The News/On The Web
Job/Income Resources
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Youth Events


Rainbow  Youth Night at the Center OC
The Center OC is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community center in Orange County.  They offer a Rainbow Youth Night open to all youth ages 14-22 on Wednesday nights from 7-8:30pm.  

 
 redwoods
CAMP LAVENDER: LGBT SUMMER CAMP IN THE SIERRA NEVADA'S SUMMER 2009
Camp Lavender Hill offers a week-long summer camp for children, ages 9-14, of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender families. Their goal is to create a safe and supportive environment for children of alternative families.  Children, adolescents and young people of all ages have a strong need for acceptance, validation and a sense of belonging. By providing these children with an alternative to traditional summer camp, Camp Lavender Hill offers them the opportunity to enhance self-esteem in a place where differences and diversity are celebrated.

The founders of CLH also found that camp has served another very important need.  The counselors themselves are either LGBT or were raised in an LGBT family, and camp has provided an opportunity for them to work with kids in a safe and open environment.  It is a place to contribute and share without having to hide. The counselors have found the experience to be invaluable.

Community Events & Resources

TG kids
"This American Life" radio broadcast - Gender Spectrum Family Conference
 
"Of all the 6 and a half billion people in the world, what are the odds that any two people are a real match? ....two kids who travel halfway around the country to find each other and become best friends.
 
NPR journalist, Mary Beth Kirchener traveled to Seattle last summer to attend the Gender Spectrum Family Conference.  Her interview featured two transgender children and their families.  Listen here:(Somewhere Out There, Act II)
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National Center for  Transgender Equality (NCTE) announces a new Passport Resource for Trans Folk .  NCTE continues to work with the federal government to remedy policies that fail to reflect the needs and experiences of trans people.  In the meantime this resource will help people dealing with passports today.
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get busy get equal

 Get Busy, Get Equal
The ACLU has a webpage dedicated to Transgender and Trans-inclusive Organizations.  Check it out here 

 
 butterfly
 
AA Meeting for Trans Community
 Alcoholics Anonymous meeting for Transgender, Transsexual and Gender Questioning Alcoholics and Drug Addicts.  Not open to friends, family, admirers or cross dressers.
 
When:  1st and 3rd Saturday of the month
Time:  3:30-4:45 pm
Where:  The Village at Ed Gould Plaza (Rm 134)
1125 N. McCadden Place
Los Angeles, CA 90038
For more info: trans.aa.la@gmail.com
Practice Updates
I recently joined the Board for the Lesbian and Gay Psychological Association (LAGPA). This organization is dedicated to providing therapists and psychologists with training in LGBT issues. As a member of the board, I am working on
advocating for LGBT cultural competency training for therapists and psychologists and social workers as well as developing
networking and training opportunities for the professional LGBT community. You can check out the organization at www.lagpa.com.
 
As a therapist and an educator in the area of Cultural Competency with LGBT folks, I have found that there is a tremendous need schools, churches, service providers, therapists, parents, physicians, and professional organizations, to become equipped to create environments and services that provide safe and relevant services to the LGBT community. LGBT people often seek services from providers who openly indicate through language, information, policies etc. that the environment is LGBT accepting and affirming. LGBT people look for these signs within their churches, their families, their friends, their places of work and business.
 
In order to help families, professionals, schools and service providers become more aware of how they unintentionally convey non-acceptance; and how they can intentionally create accepting and supporting environments, I have numerous classes and trainings. To design a training for your event, or to reserve a speaking date with me-please contact me at (relevant address). Here are just a few of my titles:
 "Therapy with LGBT Family Systems"
"Therapy with Gender Variant Clients"
"LGBT Youth at Risk: How to Help"
"When your Child Comes Out: Positive Parenting of LGBT Youth"
"Just for Dads: Being there for your Child Who is Gay, Lesbian or Gender Variant"
 
In addition, I provide consultation to therapists who are interested in learning about cultural competency in therapy with the LGBT community.
Issue: # 6 Mar/2009
Greetings!
 
Welcome to the March 2009 edition of PATHWAYS.
 
 
As the first anniversary of the brutal killing of Lawrence King has come and gone, I'm thinking more about the kids that are still with us. Some are hiding in closets. Some face abuse or rejection by their families. And others go to school daily, targets for bullying and harassment. Their straight peers face tremendous pressure as well. To stand up for your gay friend-can mean social exile, or worse, becoming a target yourself.
 
This month's article addresses the need for us as a community to address the crisis for LGBTQ  youth as well as the common barriers and controversies that preclude this. I've also assembled a number of resources and links for my teen readers, their parents and mentors and allies.
 
If you know or love an LGBTQ child, tween or teen, your acceptance and support is vital, maybe even life saving. If I can be of assistance to you or your family or organization, please contact me at  lisa@genderpath.com .
 
Warmly,
Lisa Maurel, MFT
License No. 32416
What LGBT Youth Need From You
How Parents, Educators, Counselors and Mentors Can Improve the Lives of LGBT Youth
Lawrence's story highlights the need for parents, teachers, counselors and most importantly, youth themselves, to have a greater understanding of the continuum of sexuality and gender expression and the ways in which parent, community, and peer support can make an impact on the lives of LGBT youth.
 
How a preteen or teen works with these feelings is a uniquely creative process. From questioning their sexuality or gender, to exploration, to coming out-many youth find themselves entangled in the messages of shame and rejection that they have encountered within their family, social and peer groups. In order to effectively support LGBTQ youth, they need us to understand their reality, show them acceptance and understanding, model courage in our own coming out, and provide protection and leadership by being allies for them in our families, churches, neighborhoods and schools.
 
 The Perils of Coming to terms with LGBT Identity are Real
LGBTQ youth are at greater risk for abuse, running away, dropping out of school, drug abuse depression and suicide. The root of many of these behaviors and risk factors is the homophobia (fear and dread of gay people) that these kids encounter in their families, peergroups, churches and the general culture. Teen identities are fluid and porous. They are in a creative process of self discovery and highly vulnerable to the messages of hate and rejection like homophobia. The pressure to hide, to conform or to run away through drugs, dropping out or other risky behaviors is real and it also serves to numb them from their pain.  But support from parents and other adults can make a huge difference.
  
I have witnessed teens progress from brutal self mutilation and suicidal ideation to anger and defiance to confidence and assertion geared towards creating social change. The kind of support that can enable a teen to move in this direction includes: parental support and structure that is gender informed and affirming; support from the educational system that addresses bullying and academic issues; and medical/mental health support that encourages the emotional processing of complex identity issues around gender, identity and actualization with a gender informed therapist. The need for firm support with flexibility and creativity given the fluid nature of gender and sexual orientation at this stage is essential.
 
The Power of Love
heart in handAccording to the recently published Family Acceptance Project, Caitlan Ryan reports among her findings that LGBT youth who experience high levels of parental rejection are 8.5 times more likely to attempt suicide. While parental rejection is a huge factor in LGBT mental health- parents who have been rejecting of their child's sexuality or gender expression can improve their child's current and future mental health tremendously; simply by reducing rejection and increasing support. In other words, even moderate changes in the home can significantly improve a teens mental health. You can learn more about LGBT issues and become more accepting and affirming of your child by getting the facts and getting support for yourself to deal with your fears, anxieties and other emotions around your child's non-conforming behavior, or coming out. Check out a PFLAG (Parents of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) meeting, read a resource book or talk with a therapist about your concerns. Your child will thank you for it.
  
Be a Mirror
golden mirror
LGBT people come in little packages too. Young children find their identity and discover themselves through the "mirrors" in their lives. Rigid gender rules and enforcements  wound  childen who are variant. These children feel invisible, unseen or ashamed when they do not recognize themselves in the traditional mirrors of gender conforming, heterosexual models. Research shows that the age of "coming out" is dropping from 16 to 14.5. And most, but not all LGBT adults report being aware of being "different" in early childhood. For some, the age of awareness comes later-this could be in part-due to the tremendous heterosexual bias in our culture. 
 
Be an Ally
LGBT youth need role models and allies-gay and straight. Unfortunately, some adults fear stepping into this role for fear of harassment on the job, or being perceived as having an "agenda" or gay themselves. One woman who stood up for Lawrence King, the assistant principal, is now being called "a lesbian principal with a homosexual agenda". It takes courage to stand up in your community. Whether you are a straight ally or LGBT identified-coming out is good for you and its good for our youth who need our example. If you don't feel you can come out at work-you can still be involved with youth organizations that need mentors. See the resource section below for organizations where you can get involved.
    
Understand that LGBT Youth are Not "Acting Out"
Gender non-conformity in youth-whether it has its roots in emerging same-sex orientation, or gender identity-can appear as a behavior problem. Of course co-occurring mental health problems such as depression; ADHD; or other issues can also be present, but it is important to understand that a tween or teen (gay, trans or straight)  will not always navigate the terrain of gender and sexuality without incident.
 
LGBT Identity is not just about Sex
Most adults squirm at the notion of addressing this issue with youth because they automatically associate LGBT issues with sex. But being LGBT is about much more than who one chooses as a sexual partner. Its about identity and integrity
 
Go to the Principal's Office
That's right. As a student or parent,  you can talk with the principal about the school's level of awareness of LGBT issues. Find out what they are doing to address LGBT youth in your child's school.  As an LGBT parent, be involved in your child's school and make the teachers and parent's aware of any requests regarding accommodating your child: two mother's day cards for example. If you have an established relationship with the administration or the PTA, suggest that the school offer a Parent Education Night, or Teacher Training on LGBT youth. I've listed some organizations below who provide these trainings and can offer resources or help you start a Gay Straight Alliance at your school.
 
If you are a student, you can also connect with the school counselor or a teacher you feel comfortable with. If you don't feel comfortable, consider getting a parent or mentor to help you brainstorm how to deal with a situation at school. But don't suffer in silence. I've put some resources below, just for you.
 
A safer and more gentle world is possible-but all of us are needed to safely guide our youth and teens through their journey to adulthood-through territory that is often hostile and threatening to their self esteem and their emotional and physical safety. Youth are our greatest treasure, because they hold the promise of tomorrow and all that is possible.
 
 
Resources and Links to Support LGBT Youth
 
 
Straightlaced - The Movie
Premiered Jan 14: a great documentary about pressure to conform to gender stereotypes and its impact on teens.
 
Orange County PFLAG meets the first Wednesday of each month at The First United Methodist Church in Orange, (161 S. Orange Street). Meetings begin at 7:30 p.m. Orientation for newcomers begins at 7:15 p.m.
 
This month's Reflections newsletter has my companion article The Lessons of Lawrence King .  You can find it in the Newsletter archives at Therapy4OCLesbians.com
 
Resources for Youth
 
The Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network  has an arm right here in OC. They have tool kits for safe zones, and 
starting Gay Straight Alliances at your school. GLSEN is also working on TransAction Day and has great resources to help you join a support group or start one at your school.
 
Facts and Stats about LGBTQ Youth: identity, risk,harassment, and bullying.
 
 
Or call them at 866-488-7386 
In The News

tell-three.org

Tell Three Web Campaign  
"The passage of Prop 8 in California has motivated LGBT people and their supporters like never before," said Amy Balliett of Join the Impact, a grass roots organization with more than 15,000 members that has helped to organize massive demonstrations throughout the U.S. since the November elections. "Now that we've had some time to get over our anger and sadness, we're ready to act..." The goal of the campaign is for all LGBT groups and individuals to seize upon the momentum that has been generated since the passage of Proposition 8 in November and work together to tell their stories to build support for all of the issues affecting LGBT people.
 
 
lance bass PSACheck out Lance Bass / GLSEN PSA for this year's  Day of Silence on YouTube here

Job/Income Resources

 

Job Hunting
Have you been recently laid off, are currently unemployed, or looking for ways to make extra money while you search for a new job? 
 
If so, check out these articles that may be of help. 
 
 
By the way, all of these articles were written by my assistant Angela.  Writing articles is what she does to earn extra money...
 
Trans-folk specific info:
Transgender Job Bank is  a worldwide resource for Job Searches and Postings. Click here  to read about the Job Bank and how it works.
______________________ 
lisa - headshotBe well & happy,
Lisa
 
Lisa Maurel, MFT
 
 
2009 Lisa Maurel, MFT - All rights reserved.