Identifying as transgender is not a mental disorder. However, according to minority stress theory, transgender individuals may be at a higher risk for experiencing negative impacts on their physical and mental health as a result of stigma, prejudice, and discrimination. Although transgender individuals were banned from serving in the military for many years, they still served at two to three times the rate of the general population. The combination of being transgender and a veteran increases the risk for biased hiring and firing, eviction, homelessness, and suicide. Personal coping, feelings of authenticity, military pride, social support, community connectedness, feeling accepted by others, activism, and education of others all have the potential to help protect transgender veterans from these negative impacts.
Support for people in the transgender community can be provided by:
– Getting education about transgender issues
– Understanding that there is not one way to look or be transgender
– Using a person’s preferred pronouns
– Not confusing gender identity with sexual orientation
– Not making assumptions about a person’s identity or transition process
– Keeping open lines of communication
– Advocating for transgender rights
Some helpful definitions:
– Sex: biological status of male or female that was assigned at birth
– Gender: socially constructed attributes, behaviors, roles, and activities considered by a specific society to be appropriate for boys/men or girls/women
– Transgender: refers to when a person’s gender identity, expression, or behavior is different from the sex they were assigned at birth
– Gender identity: a person’s inner experience of being male, female, or something else
If you or someone you know is struggling with issues related to identifying as transgender or experiencing negative impacts from discrimination, there are many resources available to assist in the process of support and problem-solving, including professional counseling. Call (215) 487-1330 or email us at Greenridge@intercommunityaction.org for more information about our counseling services, which include one-on-one therapy with a trained clinician.
Author: Lauren Matturro, M.A.
American Psychological Association. (2011). Answers to your questions about transgender people, gender identity, and gender expression. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/topics/ lgbt/transgender.aspx
Chen, J. A., Granato, H., Shipherd, J. C., Simpson, T., & Lehavot, K. (2017). A qualitative analysis of transgender veterans’ lived experiences. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 4(1), 63-74.