Transgender people are having their moment of increased visibility and advocacy, components critical for acceptance and mental health of the demographic. The rise of the spotlight has not stopped the flurry of murders committed against transgender people in 2015, with at least 17 deaths recorded as of August. These kinds of hate crimes place a fear in the group not conducive to mental wellness and physical safety.
Tamara Dominguez was intentionally hit by a car in Kansas City and run over several times on August 17th, 2015. This violent and traumatic event sent a distressing message to her transgender peers. The Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA) has found violence – sometimes encompassing sexual assault – commonly committed against transgender people. This issue, along with reports of social isolation, substance abuse and family rejection, drives up rates of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems for transgender individuals. OPHA finds the number of trans-sensitive medical and mental health professions lacking the ability to handle problems that disproportionally focus on this particular group.
Hate crimes are the result of antisocial behavior and the inability to individualize the victim, according to Charles Judd, Ph.D.
“When you meet a person who’s a member of an outgroup, you’re less likely to individuate them, to pay attention to individual characteristics, than when you meet members of your ingroup,” Judd said. “That’s because stereotypes concerning outgroup members are stronger than those of ingroup members.”
This negative stereotyping grows in power the better the ignorance, finds Clark McCauley, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Bryn Mawr College. He notes the absence of knowledge regarding the history of a group and decreased exposure can fuel the vitriol.
The American Psychological Association (APA) and other trans-inclusive organizations strive to shed light on what being transgender means, typical challenges transgender people face and how they are seeking happiness, health and fulfillment by combating these issues.
The APA distinguishes between the terms sex and gender. “Sex” is defined by the chromosomes, hormones and anatomy present at birth. “Gender,” according to the APA, is “socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for boys and men or girls and women.” The standards associated with gender constructions influence actions, thoughts and feelings.
The act of crossdressing is not the same as being transgender, the APA emphasizes. Crossdressers wear clothes considered atypical for their self-identified gender, such as a man wearing a dress. The activity is predominantly superficial and typically unaffiliated with sexual orientation or desire to undergo gender transition.
Transgender people are more likely to feel intensely uncomfortable with the gender assigned at their birth and seek to either express behaviors more aligned with their desired gender or suppress the feelings due to cultural, social and familial pressures.
With transition can come wearing different clothes, starting hormone therapy and sometimes undergoing surgery. Otherwise, the gender dysphoria can create feelings of depression, anxiety and suicide ideation. Over 40 percent of transgender individuals attempt suicide in their life compared to 4.6 percent of the general population.
Sovereign Health Group takes trauma and suicidal thoughts seriously, no matter the gender identity or sexual orientation of the patient. Mental health professionals can help patients resolve traumas of the past and present and look toward a better future of acceptance. Call 866-754-3385 today for a new start.
Written by Nicholas Ruiz, Sovereign Health Group writer