Love Comes In All Shapes & Sizes, Transgender Remembrance Day

//Love Comes In All Shapes & Sizes, Transgender Remembrance Day

Welcome to the couples expert podcast! With Stuart Fensterheim, LCSW, your source for the latest tips and practical downpour of advice on creating emotionally connected thriving relationships. Now, here’s Stuart.

Stuart: Hi there and welcome to the Couples Expert Relationship Podcast.  This is Stuart Fensterheim, the Couples Expert.  Today I have on my show Traci Lowenthal.  Traci is a therapist and a good friend of mine who works with the transgender population.  Do you know, when I was trying to do some research for today’s show, I didn’t find one other podcaster that was doing something about that.  No one is talking about it, and today is Transgender Remembrance Day.  The reason for that day is this is a day that we’re going to remember all the transgenders who have been murdered or have committed suicide recognize; this is a day, and this is a population that definitely needs some service from podcasters and therapist helping them with their relationships and also feeling good about who they are and the decisions that they make.

This podcast is the podcast that we all meet together, my community of listeners and me, to find a way to have that close connected relationship that is meaningful to us, and I am working so incredibly hard to bring all of you the information that you need about how to have that kind of relationship, because here in this weekly podcast, what I’m offering all of you, and I ask all of you to share with your friends and family this podcast. We’re community, and we’re building a strong community.  We’re putting aside 30 to 45 minutes a week, helping you realize that you truly are not alone, and together we are one, but there are also many, many of us with the same passion of knowing you can have a relationship in which you truly can be authentic, be yourself, be transparent and feel more loved than you ever have in your entire life.

So now I am bringing to you Traci Lowenthal.  So Tracy, welcome to the Couples Expert Podcast.  I am so happy that you’ve given yourself and your time and welcome, and my audience is very excited to learn about this very important topic.

Traci: Thank you Stuart.  It’s a pleasure to be here.  I really appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and your listeners about something that I’m really passionate about.  So thank you for highlighting this important topic.

Stuart: You know what’s interesting about this topic, because I was not as familiar with it as I thought I should be, so I did some research prior to, and I do that for most of my podcasts, but I couldn’t find much.  There’s almost nothing out there. When I looked for podcasters or I looked for articles on transgender relationships, I could maybe find one article.

Traci: Yeah, I’ve had a similar experience.  I don’t know that we have caught up with the speed in which things are kind of evolving right now.  So we definitely need more information out there.

Stuart: I mean I guess I thought because of all the you know, excitement, and the publicity around Caitlyn Jenner that this would be something that would have so much written about it, but it was all really sort of that kind of cabbage kind of stuff without any real facts or meat or sensitivity.

Traci: Right, right.  You know, it’s definitely an interesting dynamic that Caitlyn Jenner has created.  There’s a lot of people who are really grateful to her and really appreciate the platform that she has, and there are a lot of people that do not feel that she should be any kind of representative for the trans community, and so it’s definitely a mixed feeling.

Stuart: You’re talking within the community now, right?

Traci: Yes.

Stuart: Oh that’s interesting.

Traci: Yeah.  You know, I think it’s really important to point out she has a wonderful platform, and I think she’s doing her very best to educate herself and to share information as she comes across it, but she is one person, and she has an incredible amount of privilege and wealth and opportunities that most trans people will never experience.

Stuart: Do you think it’s the association with the whole Kardashian issue that sort of has people being negative, or do you think it’s about something else?

Traci: I think it’s that, and again, I think it’s about the privilege piece.  The Kardashian thing is interesting because Caitlyn is this person that kind of spans a few generations because of her Olympic medalist status in her earlier life and then being on the Kardashians; she is someone that connects with multiple groups of people because of those two stations in her life.  And so I think that’s why she’s had such a wide impact, but again, she’s not your typical transgender person.

Stuart: Right.  And before we get too far into the topic, because I’m really – so this is a topic that I’m very happy to talk about both to try to make more exposure, but more than anything, what I’d like to see today become is really a place of education and sensitivity to the public, because that’s the piece that’s missing, I think.

Traci: Yes, absolutely.

Stuart: So let’s talk a little bit about you and I’d like to get to know you a little better and find out a little bit about how you got so involved with this community, and a little bit about if there anything personal that was attached to it and just what you want to share about your path.

Traci: Sure, sure.  It’s funny, everybody that I speak with wants to know how I got into this population, and the truth is is there was some intention and there was some serendipity.  I went to my first practicum placement at the AIDS Service Center in Pasadena, California, and I knew I wanted to work with HIV positive individuals because a very close friend of mine when I was a teenager came out to me as gay and came out to me as HIV positive, and that kind of set me on a path.  And in doing so, one of my clients, one of my very first clients was a trans-woman of color and really just opened my eyes to the struggles and the courage and the experiences of this population.  And so I really, you know, she was my second client ever as a practicum student, and I learned so much from that experience.  And then other clinicians kind of knew that I was interested in that work, and so I would get continual referrals, and it’s just kind of grown from there.  So it wasn’t – I didn’t specifically look to work with the trans community, but it happened right away as I started my clinical work, and it has just blossomed into something that I could have never imagined.  I’m really, really excited about what I get to do.

Stuart: Were there things you were surprised by yourself and how you sort of handled some of the issues?  Was that something that was unexpected?

Traci: Sure, you know I think as a Psychology student, I felt like l knew what I was doing, and I thought I knew a lot about a lot of things, and I think what that first client experience showed me is that I had so much to learn, and I continue to have so much to learn.  This population and this group of people, it’s fluid, right?  There’s so much change and there’s so much evolving going on within the community that I’m always learning.  Even last week, my intern, Patricia Gonzales gave a presentation that I’d written and added to over the years and just looking at the notes from that presentation and seeing the ignorant statements I was making four years ago that are no longer appropriate.

So it’s really just is a constant growing for me in this work.

Stuart: When you talk about ignorant statements, let’s sort of talk a little bit about language because I think language is an interesting sort of discussion here particularly with the transgender population. One of the things that I was thinking as we started, when you are referring to Caitlyn Jenner as she, number one, what is appropriate, and number two, where do you think – because I hear so many people who struggle with this when they’ve known someone as a man who is now a woman, whether to call he or she, and there almost is a feeling of disrespect happening within all of that.

Traci: Absolutely.  So I did refer to Caitlyn as she, and I think that is the most appropriate approach, and the reason for that is because that’s what she’s asked for.  So when she transitioned and shared her name with everyone, at that moment she identified as female, and I think it is disrespectful and it can be incredibly painful for someone if they’ve asked you to use a particular pronoun or particular name and you chose not to do that, and you ignore that request and use other names or other pronouns.  

You know, the truth is we’re all human, and we’re going to make mistakes and when we’re learning about someone’s new expression, about their new gender expression, if they tell us what their pronouns are and we slipped or if we used a birth name by accident, those things happen and that’s okay. I don’t want people to feel so afraid to speak to someone that they just avoid it all together, but I think owning those mistakes and saying you know, “I’m really sorry I just did that.  I’m working on it.  I’m going to move forward.”  And I’ve heard more and more people say lately don’t make a huge deal out of it, just say, “Oh I’m sorry; I slipped with my pronoun,” and get back on track.

Stuart: You know what I like about what you’re saying is because as an Emotionally Focused Therapist and I talk a lot about EFT and vulnerability, what you’re really talking about is getting close and intimate in your dialogue and discussions with people who hopefully you can treat with respect, and being vulnerable and saying, “You know, I did something that I didn’t mean to be hurtful.  I do care, and I want to do what’s right.”

Traci: Absolutely.  I think that’s really important and doing that in a way that doesn’t draw attention to yourself but just draws attention to the error and that you’re trying and that you want to move forward.  If the person that you’ve made a mistake with wants to process it more, I think that’s always something to do for sure to support them, but generally my sense has been that people want to hear you say that you made a mistake and then move forward.  So talking with the individual that you’re with and finding out exactly what they need, and even once you get that discussion going when they tell you about their new pronouns or their new names, saying, “What should I do if I make a mistake?  What should I do if I slip with name or pronoun?  How would you like me to handle that?”  And decide that together.

Stuart: So that’s really a good transition into part of what I would like today to be about–really talking about transgender relationships, and we have different forms of that as I know.  You have – you know, where you have two transgenders who are in a relationship together, you could have one transgender that when you meet that person previously went through some of the changes that happened and then you also have the relationships where in the middle of the relationship, someone may make that decision.  What are the differences as you see within those relationships with those three categories or have I missed one?

Traci: No, you haven’t and I do want to make a small correction. You said a transgender, and we don’t want to ever say that.  That would be like saying a car or it’s kind of objectifying, you know.

Stuart: Oh, okay.

Traci: Yeah, and again, being sensitive to language is a really big piece of being what this community is and trying to be aware of those things, and that’s a really common thing that people say so I just want to – hopefully that is a gentle way to mention it to your listeners too.  So with the three categories that you mentioned, you can have two folks who are identified as transgender in a relationship, and you know, I think it really depends on the relationship itself. When it started, did they identify as trans when they were first together, you know.  It comes down to open communication, right? And being like you said earlier, vulnerable and open about who we are.  And then there are certainly couples who have transitioned during their relationship, either one or both of them, and I think from the work that I’ve done, that’s generally a really tough place for a couple is when one person comes out and identifies as trans and wants to make a transition.  It causes a lot of questioning for the relationship and for the other partner in that relationship: what does this mean to me? Does this mean I’m going to be in a relationship with a woman now? How do I identify? How do I feel about that?  So it causes a lot of questioning for both people in that relationship.

Stuart: And I would imagine that what also might occur is really bringing up maybe, because you know, we’re talking about emotions and feelings and you don’t just turn your emotions off, we all have our own biases, and I wonder as I’m hearing you talk about this, how much of the person’s homophobia could really be surfaced right then and there. How do you deal with that when you love somebody but you also have some value issues?

Traci: For sure, for sure.  So a homophobia can come up you know, someone’s idea of sexuality and how that gets called into question.  I do want to point out, I like to point this out as often as I can that the gender identity and sexuality often get conflated, and there’s a lot of confusion, but they are two separate pieces of someone, if that makes sense.  So someone’s gender identity is how they inherently feel that they are, and their sexual orientation is who they’re attracted to.

And so both of those issues, transphobia and homophobia can come up in these relationships, and I think, like you said earlier, again, being vulnerable, owning those feelings, talking about those feelings openly with the person that’s coming to you and sharing this part of who they are, and I think it’s always important to get support for both partners in that relationship.  So the person who’s in transition, the person who’s exploring their gender identity needs support, but also that partner who is kind of sometimes feeling like they’re coming along with this against their will, that this isn’t something that they would choose for themselves or their relationship.  And so they often need support as well.

Stuart: When you use the word transphobia, what does that mean?

Traci: It’s similar to homophobia.  It is a fear or a misunderstanding or discomfort with someone who’s trans or transgender.

Stuart: Okay.  And the day of remembrance that is Friday, November 20th is a day specifically for an acknowledgement of some of the prejudice and sort of almost like a genocide, isn’t it?  Maybe that’s too extreme but it really does feel that way.

Traci: Yeah.  I don’t know if that’s too extreme.  I’m sure that you get two different opinions on that or many different opinions really.  But Transgender Day of Remembrance, November 20th, as you said, on Friday of this week is a day to remember the transgender folks who have been murdered during the past year.  So it’s awful that we have that day, that we need to do that, but it’s a very important day because it highlights the fact that trans people are much more likely to be victims of violence than just about any other group, and when we add trans women of color into that, the rate is exponentially higher than other groups.  And so this year alone, as of last week, I haven’t heard of any other folks yet but as of last week, 22 trans women of color have been murdered this year, which is up significantly from last year, and I think I could be wrong about the number, but I think we had 13 or 14 last year.  And so it’s a huge problem and that day is a day to highlight the fact that this community still needs so much support and so much awareness.  So that’s what the day is for and I appreciate you bringing that up.

Stuart: How do you think that impacts a couple’s relationship?  That concept of the knowledge that this is population that has been one of the new populations that have been now targeted for things like bullying, and I’m going to call it, and this may seem really, really an extreme thing, assassination almost.

Traci: You know, I think that is an appropriate word.  You know, just until recently, we were able – people could use the gay panic defense in court to defend against murdering someone.  So for instance, if you met someone, a woman at a club and you went outside and you were being intimate with that person, if you then discovered that that person was transgender and you murdered them, there’s actually a defense for that that you could use.

Stuart: That’s horrible.

Traci: It is horrible.  It is horrible.  And so things are definitely shifting, but your question about the relationship, yes it is.  It’s very important I think for couples to be aware of safety considerations.  You know, I have couples all the time that talk about their transition and how well everything is going and then I talk about how they’re going to go out in the evening and where they’re going, and I always feel like a broken record, but I definitely always talk to them about safety.  How are you assessing your environment? How are you making sure that you’re remaining safe when you’re out in the world? Because if someone sees you and recognizes you as a trans woman, that can be really problematic.  It’s very dangerous.  I just saw Laverne Cox speak the other day, last week at the University of Redlands, and I’m not sure if you know who she is, but she’s a transgender woman who’s also a woman of color and also an amazing actress and also an activist, and she calls it getting spooked when someone sees her on the street and recognizes her as a trans woman and they call her out or they catcall her. That immediately puts her at risk, you know.

Stuart: And she’s a well-known person, so if you’re at risk as a famous person, what for the everyday person, the higher incidents of that?

Traci: Exactly, yeah.  So there’s a lot of safety considerations for couples, you know.  When I speak to them, that’s something that I talk to them about.

Stuart: I’m thinking as you mentioned that, and I don’t know if the woman that you just mentioned is the same one, but there’s someone on this Netflix show, and I’m blanking on the name of the show.

Traci: Yeah, Orange Is The New Black.

Stuart: Yes.

Traci: Yeah, that’s Laverne Cox.

Stuart: Okay.  She’s a wonderful actress.

Traci: She really is, really is, and she’s an amazing speaker.  I’m so privileged to have been able to see her the other night.

Stuart: Right, and I think that show has done a good job with sort of normalizing some of that stuff, and I think one of the things as I’m thinking about it, and I’m thinking about the sort of gay/lesbian population and the number of assaults that started there and that population, particularly with the new laws, I think are coming into their own in terms of less prejudice depending on where you live, I’m sure.

Traci: Sure, yes.

Stuart: But it seems like this is the new population that’s now being identified as a place to take out your anger.

Traci: Yeah, well, I think it’s definitely a new population we’re becoming aware of the fact that these folks have been struggling with violence.  So this is not a new situation; we’re just new to it. I mean because of Laverne Cox and Janet Mock and Ruby Rose and Caitlyn Jenner and people that have a more significant platform, we’re hearing more about transgender folks.  And so because of that, we’re becoming more aware of the struggles that they face which is really important.  That’s how we begin to battle against these things–having more awareness.

Stuart: Right and to be honest and talking about vulnerability, I’m going to share when I first thought about doing a podcast on transgender relationships, I had to sort of take a pause and I ask myself for a moment, it was pretty quick because of who I am and the importance that I put into sharing important topics and topics that aren’t just sort of you know, playful topics. I want to talk about the real issues.  I began to go, “Oh my gosh, what will this do to people wanting to listen to my show.”

Traci: Yes.

Stuart: And the fact that I even had to ask myself those questions, number one, as a sort of a person that was raised during the civil rights movement. I had some shame that came up, and number two, how sad that I even have to think about that.

Traci: No, you know Stuart, I really, really appreciate you saying that.  I think it’s so important.  I have that experience too. You know like when people ask me what I do, I will say that I’m a clinical psychologist, and then the next questions is always, “What’s your specialty?”  And I do that same pause, and I don’t–I appreciate you speaking to the shame that comes along with that.  I don’t feel shameful anymore about it, but I do have that moment where I have to be aware of my surroundings: how is this particular comment going to be accepted by this person that I’m speaking with?  And I’ve been really fortunate that most of the time, the next thing that someone says is, “Oh that must be so interesting.”  My cousin or my brother or my dad, and they generally–the people that I’m speaking with generally know someone who’s either gay or trans, and so I really appreciate you saying that, and I think that’s normal.  You know, homophobia, transphobia, racism, all those things are truly in the oxygen we breathe.  We’re exposed to images and messages all the time that cause us to have certain feelings, and the fact that you had that moment and that you chose to do this podcast anyway, I think it’s really amazing, and you’re going to give other professionals permission to have that moment too, but then to move through it.

Stuart: Because as a counselor and a therapist, particularly a therapist that promotes vulnerability and closeness and relationships, what’s more important than really bringing a topic that people might not talk about?

Traci: Exactly.

Stuart: And how do we then take that into our relationships, whether we have relationships with someone transgender or whether you have two heterosexuals who are in a relationship. Part of really being close and securing a relationship is knowing that your partner sees all of you: the good, the bad, and the ugly; and if we don’t talk about the things that we struggle with or that we may not be proud of with ourselves, our partner doesn’t really know us.

Traci: Right, right, or the part of us that society may not know as well coming off.  You know, if we can’t share those things with our partner, we’re so isolated, you know.  So we need to be able to be who we are completely with our partners.

Stuart: And then the other piece that goes along with that as a therapist is the whole cultural issue and relationships.  When you have two people who might have different cultures, you have to talk about the differences in your culture.  If you have two people who are getting together or are together who now have a different sort of community, and particularly the gay lesbian community, and the transgender community all have different sort of values and beliefs and the language as we were talking earlier, if we don’t talk about what those things mean, how are we going to have intimacy?

Traci: Absolutely.  And what you bring up is so important.  We’re not just talking about a gay person. We’re not just talking about a trans person. We’re talking about a person who has multiple identities, right?  So we could be talking about a white upper middle class Mormon who is trans.  We could be talking about someone who lives in poverty is of color and is trans.  So there’s so many layers of who we are, and so you can’t just pluck one out and examine it.  You have to look at the inner sections of all these different pieces of who someone is and how all of those different identities are going to inform the relationship and inform how a couple moves through a significant change like someone’s gender identity.

Stuart: Right and I think what I noticed when I did the research for today, and we’ve talking a little bit about this, is there’s so much out there about an individual’s decision to make that shift from the sexual identity or what was the term that you used?  I want to make sure I use the right one.

Traci: Gender identity.

Stuart: Thank you, thank you.

Traci: Yes, who we inherently are.

Stuart: Right, our gender identity to where there may be a switch.  There’s a lot of literature and a lot of writing and talking about that but really, I guess I want to understand how could we do that and not talk about the relationship issues?

Traci: No, you absolutely have talked about the relationship issues.  If someone in a couple or even relationships with families, there’s always really important pieces to someone’s gender identity.  You have to talk about the impact on others.  You have to talk about the adjustment that other family members are experiencing, and it’s not because it’s negative, but it’s because it’s happening.  If you’ve been married for 25 years and your spouse comes to you and says that they’ve always felt like they were a woman, and they are going to transition to being a woman, there’s a lot associated with that.  There’s sometimes there’s anger; there’s a lot of grief that comes up, and those things have to be explored either separately in their therapeutic work or as a couple. You know, I think both are ideal.  Each person can have their individual support and then have a couple’s therapist as well familiar with the dynamics. But yeah, you can’t, this person is not an isolation.  There are others that are affected by the shifts and that’s often what keeps people from living their authentic life, is because they don’t want to hurt other people.

Stuart: And we need to be authentic if we’re going to be in a relationship, because how can I really have closeness if I’m not authentic with my partner and if I am living a life from my perspective? I can’t be authentic so how am I going to experience any closeness.

Traci: Right and if you are hiding a part of yourself and sometimes you know, there’s shame associated with those things.  You’re not only not being authentic, but you’re burdened by shame and that takes away from who we are as people too, right?

Stuart: Right and then there’s the – I was thinking as you were talking earlier, if my wife came to me and said, “You know, I’m really a man in a woman’s body, and I want to make this change and I’m going to do this because I have to,” and I think that’s the piece that I think people don’t identify enough of is it’s not a choice; it’s I have to because otherwise the dissonance in myself is so great, and I think that’s why the numbers of suicide statistics that I was reading for people who are struggling in this area is so incredibly high.  The first thought that came up for me is, “Oh my god, what’s my dad going to say?”

Traci: Right.

Stuart: And how do I deal with that, and does my partner now feel like that’s more important than they are, and how do you talk about that struggle as a couple?

Traci: Yeah, I think you do exactly that.  You sit down and you’re honest and you are vulnerable and you talk about gosh, when you told me this, my first reaction was to panic about what other people will think, and I think if we can be really honest in a safe way as a couple and own those feelings, that again is going to create more intimacy, right?  Laverne Cox calls it brave spaces or courageous conversations.  These things are very difficult to talk about but in order to support one another and to move through and forward with your life, you do have to be courageous, and you have to be willing to have these conversations and admit the things that come to mind because the truth is if your first thought was, “Wow, what will my dad think about this?” the partner has probably thought about that too.

Stuart: Right, with their family or my family.

Traci: Exactly, or both.

Stuart: Or both, right.

Traci: Yeah.

Stuart: Right.

Traci: What are our kids going to think about this?

Stuart: Right.

Traci: What’s my best friend going to think about this?  So there’s all of these concerns that will come up for sure.

Stuart: And I think what triggers people and triggers couples is assumptions that go unchecked and as I’m sitting here, I’m thinking the first thing might be my dad, and then rather quickly for me it would be I need to talk my wife out of this, not because I can’t live with that, but now the two of us are experiencing this community who might try to murder her.  And how do I have that dialogue?

Traci: Right and you know, the thing is this: trying to talk someone out of it, that’s something that brings the suicide rates into focus again, you know.  There’s so many, you know, up to 46%, some of the statistics say 46% of trans people will attempt suicide at some point in their life, and for trans people of color, that number is at least double.  So yeah, there’s a real fear that others could create safety issues for your spouse, but there’s also a real fear that living inauthentically could be so miserable that that person ends up not feeling like they can live anymore.  And so balancing how can we address the safety issue together.

Stuart: And then the other piece I think is we have to define what love really means, and it’s such a hard concept because as I think about it, if I’m trying to talk my wife out of doing something, she’s telling me that she has lived a lie; she has struggled and felt disconnected with herself and feeling like the world is not okay, why would I try to talk her out of that if I really cared?

Traci: Right, and I think that’s a really important piece.  There can be some resistance of course at first but then recognizing what’s really at the heart of all these is as wanting this person that you’ve loved and love to be as happy as they can potentially be.

Stuart: Because I could see what comes from that discussion, and that vulnerability from everybody involved is a connection that actually is something that we all want to achieve. To really have your partner, who is talking about something that they know you’re going to react in a way somewhat negatively because almost everyone does, and coming around to saying to each other you matter so much to me; I want your happiness, is what’s important. Not how I feel about it, but that you’re happy with yourself, and if you truly feel your partner is there for you in that, how secure a relationship is that.

Traci: Exactly, how beautiful would that be, you know.

Stuart: Yes.

Traci: And to know that you could say that and to say you know, “Let’s get support together.  I’m going to get support on my own, you should get support on your own.  Let’s create a team.  Let’s create a network of people that we can count on to help us through this.”  What could potentially be a really beautiful part of your relationship?

Stuart: Right, and much more of a real relationship because now you have two people who are totally involved emotionally.

Traci: Absolutely.

Stuart: So we’re almost out of time here and one of the things I guess I want to ask you before we’re finished is what would be something specific, and specific as you can because I know every situation is different, if there’s a couple that is struggling with this issue? What would be some of the steps that you would suggest for them that would help them really understand more about each other and really get to that place of feeling secure and safe in their relationship?

Traci: I think the first thing I would do is talk to both partners about education and understanding about what this means.  We talked about transgender in kind of a general sense, but really that’s a term that is called an umbrella term.  So there’s so many different identities within that umbrella and so figuring out for the couple what does this mean specifically for this particular person and getting education around that and understanding what it means.  And then I think talking openly as we’ve talked about being vulnerable and being willing to have conversations that are difficult and doing so either on your own or with a therapist that is experienced with this kind of work.  I don’t want to say that this is a specialty that no one can do, but I think there’s a lot to this work, and so finding a competent therapist who’s a gender therapist or a gender specialist can be really, really important, and just keeping an open dialogue between one another and making sure that each person is sharing their experiences and their feelings as you move through this stage of your relationship. I think the communication piece cannot be overrated.  That’s going to be so important as someone is beginning this and figuring out what steps can you take as a couple to lead to more comfort for the partner who might be in transition. You know, maybe it’s dressing in a way that feels authentic at home periodically and doing so in a gentle way, so the partner has some time to adjust and things like that.  So just being really careful and really vulnerable and honest with one another, I think, is the most important part.

Stuart: And then the other piece that I know I’ve been reading a lot about: I understand that you’re doing something really interesting that has to do with the medical community and how they deal with this issue, and they have a lot of misinformation and bias and all that, and I believe you’re doing some sort of program about that.  Do you want to share some of that?

Traci: Yeah, we are looking, my intern, Patricia Gonzales and I, she is also specializes in gender and LGBTQIA stuff and we’re looking to work with physicians and other medical professionals in our area and actually even other businesses in general, and just to get with them and share some basic knowledge and some basic information about the community, how to handle the situation.  If you have a trans patient that comes in, you know, asking things about health and sexual activity and all those things sometimes can feel really daunting if you don’t have some education to back you up and this becomes awkward conversations, if you don’t know what to say.  And so a lot of people just avoid conversations that are really necessary especially in medical situations.  And so talking with doctors and letting them know what to ask and what to say and all that.

Stuart: That’s terrific.  So we are needing to close our show for today, but I wanted to ask in case there are folks that are listening in my community who are interested in getting involved with Transgender Day, is there somewhere they can go? How do people find that information out? And I’d also like you to let my audience know how to get ahold of you if they want to ask any questions or seek out some of your help.

Traci: Okay, great.  I think for most people, if you Google Transgender Day of Remembrance and your city, you will find any number of activities that are happening.  You know, most larger cities have some sort of memorial, lots of churches do it.  I’m doing something out in Palm Springs on Friday night.  There’s a transgender coalition that’s having a big kind of I don’t know, fair.  Fair isn’t really the right word for such a somber event, but there’s going to be a memorial out there, and so if you search for that title, Transgender Day of Remembrance and your city, you are likely to come up with many opportunities to go out and support the community.  So I would definitely recommend that.  Or even you know, I always talk about quiet advocacies too.  There are ways to do things that are supportive and that just sharing something on Facebook that day or sharing a link on LinkedIn or doing just something gentle that gets people thinking about this important day.  So I recommend that.

And then if people want to get a hold of me and ask more questions, I’m always answering emails from all over the place really to get as much information to people as possible.  So my website is and you can email me at and if you have mental health professionals that are listening, I’ve started a Facebook page for LGBQIA and trans affirming therapist.  So if they search for that, they will find our group.  We have almost a thousand members now.

Stuart: Wow.

Traci: Yeah, it’s really great and we do a lot of things there.  We provide articles and research and information but we also try and get clients seen.  So someone in Albuquerque can post that they need a therapist in Colorado, and then undoubtedly, somewhere along the line throughout the day, someone will get on and recommend a therapist in Colorado.  It’s a really great networking piece to get people care who might not otherwise get it.

Stuart: And what I will be doing, as I always do, both this episode will be transcribed on my website which is, and I will also be listing in my show notes all Traci’s contact information, so don’t worry if you’re in your car listening.  You don’t have to – please don’t cry if you can’t write down all those information.  You’ll just go to my website and I’m going to try to do a click to call and stuff like that.

So Traci, once again, I just want to thank you for giving of yourself and your time and your kindness and your giving nature really comes through, and I just wish you well in your pursuits in helping this very important population.  And as you were talking, the one thing that I was thinking if someone wants to be a little bold in what they do to this week, what about stop in a social situation or a place that’s appropriate, remind people that it’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, what it’s about, and make sure that the next time you run across someone who might be transgender that you look them straight in the eye and you say, “Hi,” and treat them like everyone else.

Traci: Yeah.  Thank you, Stuart for having me and thank you so much for being willing to have a show about this topic.  I really appreciate the your vulnerability in your comments, in your concern about doing it, but I think it went really well and I think your listeners are going to really learn a lot and really appreciate that you did this.  So thank you so much.

Stuart: Alright.  Take care now.

Traci: Okay.  Have a great day.

Stuart: You too.  Bye-bye.



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