by Melinda Lejman
According to Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 41% of transgender and gender- nonconforming respondents reported attempting suicide. That number alone is alarming, but when compared to 1.6% of the general population, the number becomes a crisis. The survey was conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality and was published in 2011. As the title puts it simply and explicitly, transgender and gender non-conforming people face injustice in all aspects of life, and this discrimination can lead to devastating, if not deadly, results.
Jamie Young, former project coordinator for the Memphis-based Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality’s Women’s Caucus (H.O.P.E.) spoke to FOCUS about her time volunteering for a suicide hotline. “Our most frequent and hopeless callers were folks wishing to transition, but without anyone in their lives to support them or practical means to do so,” says Young. “I have been in complete awe of the community that OUTMemphis has been able to build over the last few years – a safe harbor against the storm.”
- OUTMemphis, whose mission is to empower, connect, educate and advocate for the LGBT community of the Mid-South, provides programing specific to the needs of this demographic. This includes support groups, workshops, and a guide which lists trans-friendly businesses and organizations.
- Trans women of color might enjoy the “Bold and Beautiful” support group, which meets Thursday from 7:30-9:30 p.m. This support group promotes education, community involvement, and healthier living habits, including safer sex. It also includes sharing a meal which is prepared and enjoyed as a group.
- Delta Trans Masculine is an inclusive group which welcomes masculine identified trans people, genderqueer, gender- questioning individuals, and any assigned female at birth who feels that gender assignment is no longer complete or accurate. DTM meets on Fridays from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and welcomes the family, friends, partners, or allies of the group members.
- Perpetual Transition is a support group and social group for transgender Memphians and has been meeting since 2005. This group’s focus is on the growing needs of the transgender community and is a safe, confidential space for transgender people of all backgrounds. Meeting times are Mondays from 6:00-7:30 p.m.
- For parents of transgender children, TransParent meets on the last Sunday of each month from 2-3 p.m. This meeting is facilitated by licensed Psychologist, Dr. K.T. Hiestand and offers parents of transgender children an opportunity to meet with and learn from other families and their situations. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org before coming to a TransParent meeting
- OUTMemphis also hosts a workshop on helping trans people navigate legal transition. The workshop includes legal name changes to important documents and government agencies, how to plan for transition, and tips for transition in areas of life such as school or work.
- “What I have seen is the joy on folks’ faces when they finally receive their true name on their ID. People celebrating birthdays as their authentic selves for the first time in a long time,” says Young, who is also a co-owner of a trans-friendly business in Memphis. “What I have seen is that the bonds people create are stronger than the hate that those in power continually try to legislate.” For more information on upcoming workshops, email email@example.com.
- For a list of trans-friendly businesses, including faith organizations, medical practitioners, restaurants, beauty services and more, you can reference OUTMemphis’ Trans Best of Memphis 2017: A Handbook for Navigating Trans Friendly Memphis.
- Go to the OUTMemphis website for the listing at outmemphis.org/programs-services/transgender/