Trans* Resource Guide
Welcome to our Trans* Resource Guide. Please let us know if we are missing anything you think should be included. You can do that by emailing Searah here.
Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community by Laura Erickson-Schroth
Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a revolutionary resource-a comprehensive, reader-friendly guide for transgender people, with each chapter written by transgender or genderqueer authors. Inspired by Our Bodies, Ourselves, the classic and powerful compendium written for and by women, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is widely accessible to the transgender population, providing authoritative information in an inclusive and respectful way and representing the collective knowledge base of dozens of influential experts. Each chapter takes the reader through an important transgender issue, such as race, religion, employment, medical and surgical transition, mental health topics, relationships, sexuality, parenthood, arts and culture, and many more.
Trans Forming Families: Real Stories About Transgendered Loved Ones, 2nd Edition by Mary Boenke (editor)
Trans Forming Families editor Mary Boenke is the mother of an adult FTM son. In this compilation, she has collected 40 short accounts by parents, partners, children, and friends of transgender people, who describe their experiences coming to learn about and accept the trans people in their lives. Many trans people and their loved ones have found the stories in this book to be helpful during the early stages of transition.
Transition and Beyond, Observations On Gender Identity by Reid Vanderburgh Written in an easy-to-read style,
Transition and Beyond will help anyone seeking accurate information about what it means (and doesn’t mean) to be transgender. Transition and Beyond addresses many topics, including partner/spouse responses, telling family members, fundamentalists transitioning, addiction and transition, workplace disclosure, youth and transition, learing the “rules” of a new gender role, considering “post-transition,” and more. A good book for trans people, family members and friends, and therapists. Author Reid Vanderburgh is a licensed therapist and someone who transitioned (female-to-male) in the mid-1990s.
ORGANIZATIONS & OTHER RESOURCES
• RAD Remedy http://radremedy.org/
RAD Remedy is dedicated to connecting trans, gender non-conforming, intersex, and queer folks to accurate, safe, respectful, and comprehensive care.
• Q Card http://www.qcardproject.com/
A free card you can get to help you communicate about your gender and identity with your health care provider.
• TransPulse https://www.transgenderpulse.com/
This is a website with a whole lot of chat boards and forums for folks across the gender spectrum and their families and friends as well.
• Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition http://www.masstpc.org/
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is dedicated to ending discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. We envision a world where persons of all genders are treated with respect and fully participate in all areas of society, free from fear of prohibition, harassment or violence based on their gender identity and/or expression. To that end we educate the public, advocate with state, local, and federal government, engage in political activism, and encourage empowerment of community members through collective action.
• Transfamily (OHIO) http://www.transfamily.org/
TransFamily is a transgender support group in the Cleveland, Ohio metropolitan area. We hold regular support group meetings in Cleveland and Akron that are open to everyone.Â This in inclusive of all transgenderedÂ subcategories, e.g.Â Â FTM, MTF, cross dresser, genderÂ bender, questioning one’s gender or orientation, etc. Family members, friends, parents and spouse are welcome at the meetings. http://www.mermaidsuk.org.uk (UNITED KINGDOM) Family and individual support for teens and kids with gender identity issues in the UK
• Ruth Ellis Center (MI) http://www.ruthelliscenter.org/
The Ruth Ellis Center, incorporated in 1999, is a youth social services agency that serves the needs of runaway, homeless and at-risk youth. We are one of the nation’s leading experts on vulnerable youth who are experiencing residential instability. The mission of the Center is to “provide short and long-term residential safe space and support services for runaway, homeless, and at-risk lesbian, gay, bi-attractional, transgender, and questioning youth.” The REC is the only organization in the country that has a Residential program for LGBTQ youth in the foster care and juvenile justice system, and is mission specific to LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness.
• Trans Youth Family Allies http://www.imatyfa.org/
TYFA empowers children and families by partnering with educators, service providers and communities, to develop supportive environments in which gender may be expressed and respected. We envision a society free of suicide and violence in which ALL children are respected and celebrated.
• Illinois Gender Advocates http://www.genderadvocates.org/
Illinois Gender Advocates exist to bring equality and prosperity to the transgender people and our allies in Illinois through public education, networking, and government petition.
• Gender Spectrum http://www.genderspectrum.org/
Gender Spectrum provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for all children and teens.
• World Professional Association for Transgender Health http://www.wpath.org/
Has database of Trans-friendly health care providers
• The Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois http://www.tjlp.org/
The Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois (TJLP) is a collective of radical lawyers, social workers, activists, and community organizers who are deeply committed to prison abolition, transformative justice, and gender self-determination.
• Gender Odyssey http://www.genderodyssey.org/
• Southern Comfort Conference www.sccatl.org
• Philadelphia Trans Health Conference http://www.trans-health.org/about
|Standards of Care for transgender people
Standards of Care (sometimes abbreviated SoC) are a set of guidelines created by gatekeepers to control access to trans health services. The general trend is moving toward informed consent for adults, where health services are provided once clients acknoweldge they are aware of the potential benefits and drawbacks. As an example, the Howard Brown Medical Center in Chicago, which provides health services to the LGBT community, has a program called THInC (Trans Hormones – Informed Consent), created in 2010 to allow trans people to bypass costly and time-consuming therapy required under certain providers:
As more and more people opt for these informed consent programs, Standards of Care will continue to decline in importance. In the meantime, you may need to follow them in order to receive services from some providers.
It’s important to know “The Rules”
This is a general overview which contains certain generalizations and omissions because it’s a summary.
The original Standards of Care (sometimes abbreviated SoC) are a set of guidelines devised and maintained by the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA). They were drafted in 1979 as a protocol for dealing with gender identity therapy and care, although they have come under fire in recent years for not representing the wishes of those they are designed to serve.
In 2006, they changed their name to WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health).
Some (myself included) consider it a “ritual document” with little clinical usefulness. I believe its primary purposes are first and foremost to protect health care service providers and to legitimize our access to health care service by medicalizing gender variance.
It’s best to think of them as a guideline rather than a strict set of rules. Some procedures are done completely outside of these protocols. For instance, facial feminization surgery rarely requires any sort of “approval,” and many believe that access to hormones and other surgeries through overseas sources will continue to erode the relevance of these protocols.
The SoC primarily governs the so-called “triadic therapy”:
While these are important parts of a gender change, I think hormones and surgery are overemphasized in terms of therapeutic effect. I feel the real therapy lies in the ability to interact with others successfully in your chosen gender. For this, the real-life experience is the most important indicator of future success. It should never be thought of as something you have to get through in order to obtain surgery.
No one lives in a vacuum. In order to have self-acceptance, I believe it’s vital to get validation from society in general that they accept you in your chosen gender. Those women I know who are not accepted in society face many more blows to their self-esteem on a daily basis. In most cases, societal acceptance is strongly linked to your ability to present as female. Anyone who falls outside the range deemed acceptable by society will face greater challenges in employment, interpersonal relationships, and self-acceptance.
I’ll discuss all this later, but be advised that the HBIGDA Standards of Care are followed carefully by many therapists, physicians, and surgeons, so you probably need to count on playing along unless you can afford to grease a few palms or are clever enough to bypass some of these safety measures.
A divisive issue
I basically followed the Standards of Care very closely, and I’m glad I did. I think it forces you to stop and consider what you really want and what is going to make you happy. It’s a very conservative approach to dealing with transsexualism, and I personally feel that a cautious route carefully planned and implemented has a greater chance of leading to happiness.
However, some are adamantly opposed to the notion that we are unable to make decisions concerning our bodies on our own. I can see that argument, too.
The main problem is that there is no required counseling for similar life decisions like marriage or bearing children. It’s insulting in some ways to be forced to submit to analysis, when any other woman can go see a plastic surgeon and have anything they want done, including genital modification.
The Standards of Care are also a bit too cookie-cutter in their approach to the wide spectrum of women who present themselves for gender therapy. I think it’s highly situational. The SoC also seem lacking in their ability to distinguish between stable, socially adjusted women and those who are in need of serious counseling.
Rules are made to be bent
Care for women in our community has come a long way since the middle of last century. Back in the bad old days, you had to live as a woman for a year before you could even begin hormones. Things are better and far more flexible today, but there’s still a long way to go.
I think in general the SoC still err on the side of caution. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Because I think a conservative, well thought-out transition is smartest anyway, I saw the SoC as just so many hoops to jump through. It’s actually not that difficult to find alternative ways to negotiate these obstacles if you desire.
Personally, I’m willing to jump through a few hoops if it will keep one unfit candidate from making a grave error. However, I’m not convinced the SoC even do that.
You are only limited by your imagination and resourcefulness as far as dealing with the SoC. For instance, see how I got scheduled surgery after a four-month real-life experience here.
Standards of Care and alternative links
Gender Identity Research & Education Society (GIRES) is a UK-based group which has been doing excellent work in summarizing current research on medical aspects of transsexualism, and addressing the needs of young trans clients.
Health Law Standards of Care for Transsexualism (1993) by International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy, Inc. is a consumer-friendly alternative to the HBIGDA Standards
Feature: Transgenderism (2005) by Norman Spack, MD at the Harvard Medical School is a good overview of current ethical considerations. Dr. Spack has been a great advocate for treating those who transition early in life.
This emerging trend holds great promise for a new era of self-determination and personal responsibility regarding our unique health needs.