Question: What Would you like to See in a Trans* Support Group?

James Paul Johnson asks…

I’m starting a local support group here in Mississippi for transgender, genderqueer, bi-gender and androgynous people and our allies, and I want to provide the best support and information for us all as I can. What things would you want to see in a group like this? What topics would you find the most useful to discuss?

Please post your response in the comments below.

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Posted by on December 7th, 2009 at 04:00 pm

Category: questions 11 comments »

11 Responses to “Question: What Would you like to See in a Trans* Support Group?”

  1. Anonymous



  2. Corbyn

    Provide a lot of resources on health care and support groups. Not just health care on transitioning but health care in general so gender-variant individuals can feel safe and comfortable getting all the care they need. Don’t just cover the radically liberal left but also everything on the other side of that. Everyone is different and transitions differently and represents their gender differently and that has to be respected. I find that to be missing in almost all trans groups.


  3. Samson

    I participate in one that has no real agenda–we just show up and start talking. It makes for some awkward silences sometimes, but we meet in the side room of a cafe, so everyone just sips their drinks and pauses before someone thinks of something else to say. I think it’s mostly a good system: people get to vent and get support on the issues on their minds at the moment.

    Our group makes a huge effort to support of all sorts of gender variance, but it still feels like it takes a lot of courage to come and represent those of us who aren’t transitioning toward a fixed gender/sex, or maybe not physically transitioning at all. I’m genderqueer and pansexual. On the days when I come looking only vaguely androgynous and talking about dating men, sometimes I feel like I’m not taken seriously–just because I don’t look all that “non-cis.” I need support all the time–not just on the days when I’m presenting as “not cisgendered.” Like I said, our folks are wonderful and try to be incredibly inclusive, and I may be entirely projecting my own feelings onto the group, but it’s just a feeling I get.

    Sometimes I wonder if there should be a separate genderqueer support group, separate from a trans-and-transitioning group, but there are so many places where our issues overlap or are exactly the same. I think it’s worth keeping it all together, it’s just hard sometimes, because I think the genderqueer among us sometimes feel like we’re just “trans lite.”

    Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that I hope you can find a lot of genderqueer/bigender/androgynous folks to include, really advertise to them, and make them feel welcomed and legitimate. It’s easy to see “Trans Support Group” and think, “Oh, that’s for people who are dealing with transition.”


  4. Idgie

    I so agree. Too often “Trans” subtly equals “transitioning”, which is why I usually just use “queer”. I’m an androphile androgyne who likes to play Elvis. My brother says I’m a gay man trapped in a female body. I’m not trapped anywhere! :) Meow.


  5. B-Rae

    @Idgie “I’m not trapped anywhere.” LOVE that.


  6. .T!

    Hey what part of Mississippi? cause if it close to where i live i wanna check it out.


  7. Cat

    I’m going to go ahead and echo what some of the others said about sometimes feeling “not taken seriously,” because ambiguity is often, well, ambiguous. It’s not as in-your-face as transitioning is. I think there needs to be an equal focus on education of genderqueers AND trans people. So often one or the other simply slips under the radar.

    I’d also love to see family and friends of genderqueers/trans folks included. Maybe there could be a specific meet-up thing where loved ones are encouraged to join and talk. Because our gender affects everyone, not just ourselves. And often times when you aren’t the one dealing with gender issues yourself, it can feel really confusing to watch a loved one go through these issues.


  8. nick

    Information such as:
    – adresses of local gender therapists and other treatment
    – adresses of other queer organisations, bars and clubs
    – lists of trans and queer friendly GP doctors, psychologists, pharmacies, public toilets, etc. Possibly emergency numbers to transpositive lawyers/police.

    Activities such as:
    – fun meeting nights in a casual setting like a bar, to just meet and have fun (and of course room for people to sit in a cornor if you need to talk more seriously)
    – talk groups seperate from the meetings that are ‘just for fun’, so you can cry without feeling guilty about ruining the mood.
    – group trips to national or state-wide queer activities & meetings with other queer communities in neighboring cities.

    A member card:
    – An official looking card with the word ‘genderdiversity’ and the photo and name of your choice (or a double photo and name if you have more than one gender). While this shouldn’t be an ID-forgery, an impressive looking ID-card can really help explain yourself when asked to use a different restroom etc.

    good luck!


  9. nick

    a last one I forgot to mention:
    – ‘bring a relative/friend’ meetings, so that confused relatives can meet others in the same situation and exchange experiences.


  10. Cat

    Nick – I’m diggin’ the ID card idea. However, I’m not sure how seriously people might take it. Perhaps, if the OP likes the idea too, they could discuss it with a lawyer who can tell them the best way to “officialize” such a card, or what other measures can be taken to increase awareness and acceptance?


  11. Adrian

    I agree on not being so focused on just transitioning. I mean, it’s fine if that’s what people want, but don’t get stuck in it like many of the groups I know.

    Also, it’d be great to have certain meetings where partners/family members/friends can come and talk, too.


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