Concerned counselor encourages transgender awareness
Taking a small step to learn more about transgender experiences could massively benefit the health of the community, licensed professional counselor Adam Sauceda said April 22 at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
He has spent over 17 years working in the mental health field. The Coalition invited him to talk about his experience helping a group that he said is often misunderstood..
“I continue to be inspired to work with LGBTQ people in general, but more specifically the trans community, because of the levels of minority stress that people experience,” Sauceda told nine students at “Let’s Talk About The T” in the Vista Room.
“Marginalization, oppression and discrimination, social stigma and shame, rejection, and violence… Being queer myself, I feel like I’ve experienced a lot of this because of my sexuality,” Sauceda said.
Sauceda offers gender-affirmative care through his business, Synchronicity Counseling, in Helotes.
Sauceda said most of his clients are non-binary. This phrase refers to gender identities that are not male or female. They experience a gamut of difficulties navigating social expectations to fit into one category that doesn’t accurately describe them.
He also helps parents, many of whom come to Sauceda to better understand what their child is going through. Sauceda connects them with resources to learn about the transgender experience, how to be an ally and what terms such as “cisgender” mean. The term describes those whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their assigned birth sex.
Though it may be a challenge at first to use the right name or preferred pronouns, the effort is tremendously valuable, said Rene Orozco, president of The Coalition.
“If your parent you’ve lived with all your life doesn’t remember some of your favorite things you like to do, or eat, and got that confused with your brother, how would that make you feel?” Orozco said after the event. “People want to be recognized for who they are. It all comes down to that.”
Sometimes, Sauceda said, parents of non-binary children offer support by rejection. Parents may say, “Oh no, you’re not trans! We’ll get you help to not be trans.” Such help is offered by conversion therapy, though Sauceda said mental health professionals mostly agree these methods are entirely ineffective, and potentially very dangerous.
Children who don’t get affirmation from their parents are at high risk of mental health problems when they become adults. Sauceda quoted statistics from the Family Acceptance Project:
Transgender individuals between ages 21 and 25 whose parents did not support their transition are eight times more likely to commit suicide, nearly six times more likely to report depression and three times more likely to fall into habits of hard drug use.
Sauceda’s advice? Simply respect every person for who they are, and know this: To achieve real equality, a lot of work is still left to do.