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We have collected your questions on Transgender health issues, and are delighted to have Gavin Everard to answer them below.
Question: How do I support a Transgender family member or friend?
1. Believe and affirm their experience of their felt sex/gender. People usually struggle for years and years internally before they finally feel strong enough in themselves to come out to friends and family. It’s getting better, but most trans people still don’t even know that it’s possible to be transgender when they are growing up, or are told that they are bad or wrong for having those feelings.
2. Use your friend or family member’s preferred pronoun, even if it feels hard at first.
3. Support them financially if you can afford to do so. As mentioned above, most trans-specific care is not covered by insurance because insurers are bigoted, not family with the newest research and guidelines, and they make money by coming up with reasons not to cover care. This care, if people want it (not all trans people do) is vitally important for people’s mental and physical well-being, and people are often forced to delay getting it for years while they save up. Helping your friend or loved one reach their medical goals sooner can help them avoid more serious health problems down the road. For example, trans men who bind their breasts to get a more male-appearing chest develop back, lung and even heart problems over time due to the constant squeeze.
4. Advocate for trans people in conversation with your friends or co-workers. Don’t let people say bigoted things on your watch. Correct people, educate them, and make it clear that hateful or ill-informed talk about transgender people will not be tolerated in your presence. We don’t do the work of making the world safer for transgender and gender non-conforming people on our own. We need your help.
Gavin Everard is an acupuncturist who works with primarily queer and trans clients on chronic pain, urogenital issues and trauma healing. Gavin also trains healthcare providers on how to give trans-competent care.
Images courtesy of Gavin Everard
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