Trans* Pride Los Angeles (https://transpride.lalgbtcenter.org) is an annual event that celebrates the diversity and strength of the TGI/ENBY+ community. It is always a joy and privilege to attend this exuberant and colorful event that promotes a world of equality, equity, love, and self-acceptance. Trans* Pride is made possible due to the efforts of Trans Lounge, an organization that provides community resources and engagement for the TGI/ENBY+ community.

This year, even more than before, due to the two-year hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was a reason for celebration and togetherness. The atmosphere was one of positive energy and solidarity, and I instantly felt a connection with everyone there.

Trans Pride L.A. 2022 was an event that celebrated the past and praised the activists who helped the community take gargantuan steps toward equality. It was also an event meant to help the community look forward to a more inclusive future.

Trans Pride Los Angeles – The Background

Trans Pride Los Angeles is held every year in June. The event is a celebration of trans people and their allies, and it is an important time for the trans community to come together and show strength in numbers. Trans Pride Los Angeles is a safe space for trans people to be themselves and celebrate their identities.

The Background

The first Trans Pride Los Angeles took place in 2010. The event was created to celebrate trans visibility and pride, and to bring the trans community together. Trans Pride L.A. has grown every year since and is now one of the most significant trans pride events in the world. It attracts trans people and allies from all over Southern California and aims to promote trans visibility and advocate for trans rights.

Trans Pride L.A. festival is, above all, a celebration of trans culture. The festival features trans-themed art, music, performances, panels, and educational resources. It is the ideal space for trans people to express themselves and have fun while raising visibility for the issues faced by trans people.

Three Days of Events, Discussions, and Joy

This year, Trans Pride L.A. took place on June 16 – 18. Every year, the event is hosted by the Los Angeles LGBT Center which promotes trans rights, encourages discussions about the issues the community is facing on a day-to-day basis and reaches out to help trans people from all backgrounds.

art gallery

June 16 – The First Day of Trans Pride L.A.

Trans Pride L.A. was supposed to open with a job fair put together by the Center’s Transgender Economic Empowerment Project, but unfortunately, it was canceled. The next TEEP TGI/ENBY+ Job Fair will take place on Wednesday, September 14, 2022, 9:30 am – 2 pm.

Trans Pride L.A. opened with a panel hosted by Club Intersex, a community-run support group dedicated to intersex people. Club Intersex serves as a home for intersex people who want to explore what intersex identity means and discover the multi-faceted intersex community.

The discussion took place online under the name “From Invisible to Inclusion – An Intersectional Discussion on Intersex Experiences & Issues.”. A safe space for everyone interested in the topic, the panel aimed to allow members of the community to share their stories and journeys, as well as approach topics around issues that intersex adults face every day.

First Day of Trans Pride L.A

June 17 – The Second Day of Trans Pride L.A.

The second day continued the tradition of the Trans Pride L.A. as a host of the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s community forum series, Big Queer Convo. This year’s special guest was Latine/x non-binary/gender fluid actor and activist Vico Ortiz (they/them/elle), who was interviewed by actor Shaan Dasani (he/they). The discussion took place in person and was streamed online, allowing many participants to listen to discover contemporary topics through the lens of the past.

The second half of the day was dedicated to the opening of the SYZYGY gallery, home to an extravaganza of artworks from Cade Moga, D Hill, Emily Lucid, and Yozmit. The works of art were an explosion of color and meaningfulness and approached topics such as the inter-dimensional self, self-love, and the facets of being transgender. The evening ended with an in-person dance party hosted by Shane Ivan Nash (he/him).

Second Day of Trans Pride L.A

June 18 – The Third Day of Trans Pride L.A.

The third day started with a resource fair and festival meant to bring communities together and interconnect resources. The fair provided free food and drinks throughout the day, the atmosphere was exuberant and light, and the conversation flowed. I felt wrapped in the community spirit and enjoyed ample conversations about a cornucopia of topics on TGI/ENBY+ victories and needs.

Furthermore, I had the privilege to attend an impressive art exhibit and visit several rooms showing short films and hosting talkbacks. One of the highlights of the day was the event organized on the roof of the Center where participants made flower crowns with Classroom of Compassion in honor of trans icon Marsha P. Johnson. The event celebrated trans pride history and was a tribute to the community to engage in self-care.

The Village Courtyard became the scene of karaoke singing while @Moniquee.b read oracle cards, and Harmony (he/they) of TheyThem Friends taught self-defense lessons.

The day ended with a Happy Hour event presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka and The VarieTy Show that allowed the stars of the Trans galaxy to parade their talents in person at the Renberg Theater. The show was hosted by Abdullah Hall and was streamed on the homepage of the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Third Day of Trans Pride L.A

Looking forward to my next Trans Pride L.A. event!

All in all, it was a spectacular event that lifted our spirits and gave voice to a community represented by passionate advocates. I was so happy to see spirited, funny, proud trans people eager to connect and share their stories and determined to form a united front against prejudice and abuse.

It was an event made with love, out of love, founded on an ocean of positivism, hope, and ambition. Trans Pride L.A. 2022 was the perfect setting for witty and uplifting talks with members of the community and other therapists.

Events like this are the perfect background to move things forward for the trans community, brainstorm ideas, and come up with new strategies to promote its interests and familiarize the large public with trans rights, aspirations, and dreams.

From advocating for trans rights to providing resources and visibility, Trans Pride L.A. has been a vital force in the trans community. As we look towards the future, the event will continue to be a powerful voice for the community and a safe space for trans people to share experiences, learn more about each other, and grow, both as individuals and as members of the community.

We hope you’ll join our mission to promote self-care, self-acceptance, and self-love and stand with the trans community in their journey towards a world of inclusivity, equality, and, above all, love.

LGBTQ Pride Parade, also known as Gay Pride parades, events, and festivals take over the United States during the month of June. Colorful floats, participants, and a plethora of fun activities and workshops accompany what we know now as the Gay Pride Month, LGBT Pride Month, or simply, the Pride Month. The weekends of June are now filled with color, music, dance, and celebrations of everything in this community.

June is the month when the LGBT community is more visible than ever. It is the month when they remind the world that everyone is entitled to their rights, freedom, and kindness. But why do lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans need the celebrations? Why do tens of thousands gather to celebrate their sexuality and gender identity and stand in front of the world as they are? Why do they need to be present on the streets every June?

It all started with Stonewall Uprising

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, homosexuality, “masquerading” as a member of the opposite sex, and other expressions of gender nonconformity were considered a crime in the United States. Being a member of the LGBT community and going to a bar or restaurant could easily lead to arrest for “disorderly conduct.” Being gay was listed as a mental health disorder in the DSM in 1952 and President Dwight Eisenhower banned “sexual perversion”, also known as being gay, from federal jobs. The police constantly abused gay, lesbian, and trans* individuals and not many people were advocating for this marginalized community.

Trans Activists Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera

THE EVERETT COLLECTION; AP IMAGES

At the time, New York refused to provide licenses to bars that served members of the LGBTQ community. It all changed on June 28, 1969, when the police raided the gay club Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York, and arrested the patrons. They were cuffed and forced to wait outside the bar handcuffed. The crowd in front of the bar started to grow and, eventually, it sparked a revolt. Thousands of people gathered to stand with the owners of the bar, which was an important LGBT institution, and express their solidarity with the LGBT community. The protests lasted for six days, and the LGBT community was no longer silent. The movement had to be louder and more visible for everyone to understand they deserved the same rights and respect as any other member of the community.

Many in the LGBTQ community believe that the spark that changed it all was transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson, who is thought to have thrown the first brick or shot glass. Regardless if this is true or not, Marsha played an important role in the change that was about to happen. The same can be said about Sylvia Rivera, a Latinx transgender pioneer. Even though many years have passed since then, the LGBTQ wants to name those who fought for their rights at Stonewall and acknowledge the importance of trans women of color to the movement.

Stonewall was the tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. People from major cities started rallying with the movement. Publications were created to support gay rights, activists took over the streets, and the gay community decided to have a voice. This was the beginning of a movement meant to outlaw discriminatory laws and practices against the LGBT community.

lgbtq flags

The first Gay Pride parade

Five months after the Stonewall rally in New York, activists Craig Rodwell, Fred Sargeant, Ellen Brody, and Linda Rhodes came up with the idea of organizing a march in New York to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the uprising. The proposal was made to the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO) and included an essential aspect: the march was to be held with “no dress or age regulations.”

The march was approved, and the Christopher Street Liberation Day Umbrella Committee planned it. The people involved in the planning met in Craig Rodwell’s apartment and bookstore and used the bookstore’s mailing list to spread the word. The initial slogan of the march was “gay power.” However, L. Craig Schoonmaker, a member of the committee, thought that gay individuals may lack real power to make a change, but they do have pride.

This is how the “gay pride” movement came to life. On June 28, 1970, celebrating the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the first gay pride procession in the U.S. made history on the streets of New York. It was also known as the Christopher Street Liberation Day march after the street where the procession originated and turned into one week-long celebration of freedom for the LGBT community. New York wasn’t alone in the fight against discrimination and abuse against the LGBTQ community. Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco joined the celebration, and Gay Pride or Gay Freedom parades enlivened their streets too, and gave a voice to the movement.

month of Pride

June, the month of Gay Pride

And so, June became Pride Month. Although it has been celebrated for more than 50 years, President Bill Clinton officially declared June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month in 2000. Eleven years later, in 2011, President Barack Obama named it the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month.

Pride Month is a month of celebration and awareness. The parades, the picnics, the workshops, and the concerts are all a joyous opportunity to get together and praise the people who had the courage to stand up and fight for equality and freedom. They are an occasion for the LGBT community to feel proud and walk tall.

However, Pride Month is not only about feasts and rainbows. It’s also about remembering those who have made this possible through hard work, dedication, and commitment to the cause, and those who have lost their lives to hate crimes, mental health, substance use, homelessness, housing insecurities, food insecurities, or HIV/AIDS.

Every Gay Pride event celebrates the past but looks into the future, a future with no discrimination, violence, and hate towards the community. Pride celebrations and community events are organized to serve as a reminder that the LGBT community is just as “normal” as the rest of us, and no one should be marginalized because of their sexuality or gender identity.

LGBTQ community

Let the parades fill the streets

Many feel that not much would have changed if political activism and the gay rights movement hadn’t gotten louder and stronger. Attitudes toward the LGBTQ community may have continued to stay the same, and abuse and discrimination would have been accepted as the status quo. Often being silent is not an option for marginalized and ostracized communities, the Stonewall riot was proof that things were yearning to change.

But there is still so much work to be done. The celebration of pride has to extend beyond the month of June. The annual celebrations are also a reminder that there is still much to accomplish for the LGBT community. It’s true that same-sex marriage is now legal, but adoption rights vary from state to state. The community continues to be discriminated against at work and not given the work opportunities they deserve and, worst of all, parents continue to kick out kids who have the courage to come out.

Furthermore, more and more anti-LGBTQ legislation bills keep showing up on the legislators’ tables. This year alone, over 325 bills, of which 130 target transgender rights, have been put in motion by Republicans. Last year, 268 bills were introduced, and 27 became laws. In March, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis passed a bill that bans instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity. Known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, this piece of legislation has found its echo in states like Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, and Louisiana, and led to similar proposals.

 fill the streets

It seems that instead of going forward, some members of our society want to drag us back to the Dark Ages of the LGBTQ community. While activists struggle to earn new rights for the members of the community to help them live safe, healthy, and fulfilled lives, their already rightfully-earned rights are once again at risk. The discussion about the LGBTQ community and their rights needs to be kept open, and people have to be supportive of each other and show up for them.

Mental illness is plaguing the LGBT community, and the voices of those suffering are not loud enough for everyone to hear them. Mental health is a major concern for members of the community. They need to know they can talk about their fears, thoughts, and experiences in a safe environment. Therapists need to learn to be inclusive, and their community needs to embrace their uniqueness.

Awareness is vital for the health of the LGBT community and, consequently, for our society. And this is why the parades should keep filling the streets, and the rainbow flags should keep fluttering in the wind so that we all remember that unity and tolerance can save lives and change the world.

The conversation about mental health is finally open, and many are participating. They ask questions and are no longer afraid to find the answers. However, the majority still shy away from the topic. Too many people continue to deny the existence of mental health issues and live with the symptoms of mental health illnesses because they are afraid they will be ridiculed, isolated, or ostracized. But would things be the same if their parents, guardians, teachers, or other social support systems had known how to tell them about the importance of mental health?

No matter how vehemently we deny it, mental health disorders are real. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults have had or currently have symptoms of a mental illness. And this study only concerns the Americans who have had the courage to step forward. How many other Americans and people worldwide suffer in silence while smiling and denying to themselves that “everything is fine” or “I’m just a bit sad?”

What is mental health?

WHO defines mental health as mental well-being, a state that allows a person to reach their potential and handle the stress in their daily lives. Mental health encapsulates our emotional, psychological, social, cognitive, and behavioral well-being.

Mental health is a factor that plays throughout our life, from childhood through adulthood. Mental health impacts how we experience the world, feel in our interpersonal relationships, and our decision-making abilities. Mental health finds its echo in the way people think, feel, and behave.

mental well-being

What factors can impact our mental health?

A mental health condition is never the consequence of a single event. Most of the time, mental disorders are the result of a plethora of risk factors, such as:

  • biological factors – genes, brain chemistry, or a family history of mental illness has been linked with an increased risk of mental health conditions due to the presence of various genes and gene variants;
  • socio-economic factors – belonging to a marginalized group or struggling to make ends on a daily basis meet may expose individuals to the risk of developing mental health disorders;
  • environment – stresses of life, such as living in poverty or having an abusive family, may trigger mental health conditions, as can stressful events such as the loss of someone dear or a divorce;
  • childhood trauma – trauma is often associated with some of the most common mental health disorders our society is experiencing, and adults with a history of abuse;
  • unhealthy lifestyle – lack of sleep, an unhealthy diet, or use of drugs and alcohol can significantly increase the risk of developing mental health conditions.

childhood trauma

Why is mental health awareness important?

Mental health awareness is crucial for the health of our society. NAMI recognizes May as Mental Health Awareness Month and raises awareness about the importance of keeping the conversation about mental health going and taking the time to listen to people who are struggling with mental health illnesses. The message is simple: you are never alone, and help is always on its way.

Mental health impacts all our life experiences, and people have to be aware of the toll mental health disorders can have on their daily functioning. Among the most common mental health conditions that plague modern society are generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.

Awareness is key if we want to start healing our loved ones, our community, and our society. People need to learn what mental health is, why it matters, and how to recognize the symptoms of potential mental health conditions. Some of the most common symptoms associated with mental health disorders include:

  • sleep problems
  • loss of appetite
  • apathy
  • impulsive decision making
  • unhealthy lifestyle choices such as drug or alcohol consumption
  • suicidal thoughts

Each mental health disorder comes with its own specific symptoms, but the ones mentioned above are usually a clear indication that an individual is struggling to find their path towards inner balance and emotional well-being.

loss of appetite

Ask for help!

Your emotional and psychological well-being matters. Mental health issues can impact everything in your life, from everyday activities to intellectual functioning. They can affect your cognitive skills and social skills. It is vital to care for your mental health. From healthy habits like sufficient sleep, healthy eating, and regular physical activity to healthy social interactions, doing things that you love, and getting treatment as soon as you notice something is not right, there are numerous mental health resources to tap into so you can keep your balance.

Getting treatment and asking for mental health care can make the difference between a life lived and one you’ve just survived. Learn to be vulnerable. If you or your loved one is struggling with symptoms that betray a mental health concern or a medical condition that requires mental health treatment, do not hesitate to ask for help. Read about it, try to identify any potential emotional and physical symptoms, and act! It’s easier than ever to get mental health therapy and talk to someone who can guide you on your path toward well-being.

Ask for help!

Break the stigma!

Mental health awareness month concentrates its effort on helping people find the courage to assess their mental health and ask for help if they find that they are not living their best lives. The campaigns and events organized during Mental Health Awareness Month are meant to be the voice that many people feel they lost during the emotional war that has enslaved their brain and daily living.

Mental health awareness wants to normalize talking about mental health illnesses. They are, after all, common illnesses. Dealing with a mental health condition should not be a reason to feel ashamed or isolate yourself. Mental health awareness month educates the public and advocates the importance of policies that support people struggling with mental health disorders. No one should suffer in silence! If they don’t have the strength to voice their pain, everybody else should speak for them.

 

As many around the world are becoming aware of inclusiveness in our society, there is more awareness to be spread, especially when it comes to the importance of the International Transgender Day of Visibility.

This day in particular not only brings awareness to those who identify as transgender but is also an event that allows the world to hear the stories of transgender people who have dealt with significant challenges. These stories include instances of discrimination and violence against trans people.

If you or someone you know may be transgender, the International Transgender Day of Visibility is an important and significant day. While some may not be supportive of those in the LGBTQIA community, fortunately, many are.

Let’s discuss the International Transgender Day of Visibility further.

March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility

The first-ever International Transgender Day of Visibility was held in 2009. Since then, the event has taken place every March 31. This is a day of recognition of the achievements of the transgender community, as well as one of the annual events that bring awareness regarding the struggles transgender people face daily.

Transgender flag

It is also a time to celebrate those who identify as transgender or non-binary. Transgender folks and gender non-binary people should be included in all of society. Even today, members of the transgender community still face discrimination and stigma.

Thse individuals carry the burden of discrimination and stigma in multiple facets of life, from employment and education to housing opportunities and so on.  International Transgender Day of Visibility is a day where those in the LGBTQ community and cisgender allies encourage our government officials to pass legislation that will raise awareness around discrimination against trans people and protect the transgender community.

It’s also a time to remember those who lost their lives due to violence because of their identity as transgender individuals. Many of those victims are transgender women of color. Advocates from around the world are continuing to become the voice for those who continue to fight for equality for transgender and non-binary individuals.

Love conquers hate

Transgender people continue to face harassment and violence for their identity. It is important that society mobilizes to help these individuals lives without fear of discrimination and violence.

Unfortunately, the epidemic of violence against transgender people continues. We must do our part to make sure they are protected accordingly. It is also important that every transgender activist do their part to stop anti-transgender bills that are being discussed by state government officials.

transgender community

If you are transgender or know someone who is, remember that there are therapy services   available to help trans* and gender non-binary indivuals  Wile you may feel scared, alone, and ulovable, I want you know you matter.  You’ll find a compassionate, understanding, and nurturing therapist here. My aim is to help you embrace who you are and feel well cared for. 

A Proclamation on International Transgender Day of Visibility, 2021

On March 31, 2021, President Joe Biden officially declared March 31 as International Transgender Day of Visibility. The proclamation stated that it celebrates the achievements and resiliency of transgender individuals. It also stated the challenges that transgender individuals still face including harassment, discrimination, and even deadly violence.

The Biden-Harris Administration is advocating to stamp out discrimination and provide freedom and equality for all. It remains to be seen what kind of work will be done. Until then, it is important that we continue to speak in favor and advocate for the trans community. Trans people must and should be a part of society as citizens and nothing less than that. They need to be treated with dignity and respect.

Wear and Show Your Pride of the Trans* Community

Whether you are a member of the transgender community or an ally, it is important everyday but especially on March 31 that you show your pride and support of the trans* community.  Allies of the trans community must call their local legislation and advocate for the removal of anti-trans bills. They must also be vocal about their support of the trans community anywhere from their social circle to their work to their families.  The trans* community needs the cisgender communities support and advocacy.  

transgender couple

HRC Honors International Transgender Day of Visibility

Every year, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) honors the transgender community on the International Transgender Day of Visibility. The organization hosts an annual summit aimed at providing justice and advocacy for those in the transgender community.

Their goal is to ensure that no anti-transgender bills currently discussed across several states get passed. The HRC believes that these bills are not at the request of their constituents but rather used for political purposes to further an agenda of hate.

They are often created by government officials on the far right. Many people – including many supporters of former President Donald Trump – have voiced their disapproval for such legislation to be passed.

In about four states, such bills have been sent to their respective Governors. The fate of these bills is yet to be known. For the time being, many hope the executives make the right choice and reject the policies that would lead to further discrimination and pave the way for more invisibility in the transgender community.

transgender day

Final Thoughts

International Transgender Day of Visibility is a day where we celebrate the transgender community. It is also a time when we remember those who have lost their lives in senseless tragedies because of their identity. Take a moment to listen to the stories of the people in the transgender community.

You can do that every day of the year! You too can do your part to make sure transgender individuals live a life where they can be free of fear and enjoy the same rights as everyone else.

On November 20, 1998, Rita Hester, an African-American transgender woman, was murdered in her apartment in Boston. She was stabbed 20 times and, while still breathing when the police found her, she died the same day at the hospital. She was 34 years old.

While Rita Hester was not the first trans woman to fall victim to anti-trans violence, her incident compelled activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith to start the Remembering Our Dead web project. The event was dedicated to the murdered trans and gender-diverse people in the United States. It was organized as a vigil to honor the memory of Rita and all the trans people who have lost their lives because of anti-transgender hatred and violence.

In 1999, Smith organized the first Transgender Day of Remembrance; more candlelight vigils and similar events have followed.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Over twenty years have passed since the murder of Rita Hester and the first Transgender Day of Remembrance. Each year, Transgender Day of Remembrance recognizes more lost members of the trans community as murders continue to increase around the world. Twenty years have gone by since Smith started the campaign to end anti-transgender violence and raise awareness regarding the urgent need to educate ourselves about gender-nonconforming people and advocate for trans inclusion. Sadly, not enough has changed.

In 2019, at least 22 transgender lives were taken in the United States. Most of the people murdered were young, Black women. In 2020, 53 transgender and gender-diverse people fell prey to hate and violence in our country, and 386 were murdered worldwide, making 2020 the year with the highest numbers of fatalities since the Human Rights Campaign started tracking these crimes in 2013. These numbers do not account for the transgender people who have taken their own lives because of national indifference, a culture of intolerance, and hatred propagated by the ignorance and prejudice of a portion of the population.

2021 is not over yet, and the transgender community has already seen at least 46 of its members killed for daring to be true to their own selves. Unfortunately, it is possible the number is higher than reported because many stories about transgender people being murdered go unreported, misreported, or unnoticed. Globally, 2021 is likely to surpass 2020 as the most deadly year on record for the trans community, and a majority of those killed in 2021 were transgender women of color, with a high number of deaths happening in Brazil and the United States.

Why does the world need the Transgender Day of Remembrance?

Awareness is key to ending violence against transgender and gender-diverse peoples. The event is not only an opportunity for all communities to join transgender and gender-nonconforming people in remembering and mourning those who lost their lives in the war against prejudice, intolerance, and hatred. It is also a firm reminder that trans people are children, parents, and friends; people who have the same rights just like everyone else to love, live, and simply exist.

Transgender Day of Remembrance raises awareness of hate crimes that are still happening against the trans community and encourages people to educate themselves, advocate for change, and embrace the world as it truly is: diverse and unique. The campaign addresses issues that plague the lives of trans and gender-diverse individuals, encouraging the media to speak openly, boldly, and sincerely about the urgent need to change our mentalities to stop the hate, violence, and indifference that permits these murders to continue.

We all need Transgender Day of Remembrance to gather more allies against the campaign of hatred led by an ignorant minority determined to wipe out the existence of those who dare to be different. We all need Transgender Day of Remembrance to stand in vigil and remember those who have died because they choose to be free and live “differently”. We will continue to need Transgender Day of Remembrance for as long as trans and gender-diverse people are persecuted to preserve an illusory sense of “normality” and sacrificed on the altar of conformity.

transgender symbol

What can you do to become involved in Transgender Day of Remembrance?

You can educate yourself and others about what being a transgender or gender-diverse person means and how you can help stop the stigma associated with their communities. You can advocate for trans-inclusive policies and practices in your workplace, school, town, or city. You can participate or organize a vigil in your neighborhood on November 20th to honor the lives of transgender people who have been murdered. Vigils are often coordinated by local transgender advocates or LGBTQ organizations and usually take place in parks, community centers, or other venues.

You can write stories, articles, or news pieces about victims of transphobic violence and anti-trans hatred and bring them to the attention of local and national media outlets. Telling their stories out loud raises awareness and gives a voice to those who are no longer able to use theirs. Amplify trans voices and take action to stop the abuse and ignorance.

You can offer transgender and gender-diverse people employment, medical care, tutoring, food resources, and any other type of help they need and is in your power to offer. You can be there for them and be an example in your community. You can lead people on the path of inclusion, acceptance, tolerance, and understanding.

Furthermore, you can donate to organizations that help trans people of color, sex workers, migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees, as many of them are victims of discrimination, abuse, persecution, and violence. And, of course, you can mobilize your friends and followers to stand with you and share news about the campaign and events in their communities using social media and the hashtag #TDoR2021.

 

Transgender person

Helpful resources to get involved

Disclaimer: The following is a list of possible resources throughout the United States. This list is provided solely as a resource and none of the following organizations are endorsed by Julia Schwab Therapy.

GLAAD has put together a great list of resources for anyone who’d like to get involved. Below are a few examples:

Organizations in Los Angeles that work with the Trans* population (not an exhaustive list)–

LA LGBT Center
Transwellness Center
Trans Latina Coalition
Bienestar
Children’s Hospital
Trans Lounge
Trans Can Work
UCLA Gender Health
Gender Justice Los Angeles
Trans Chorus of Los Angeles

Other Resources throughout the US

10 Trans Advocacy Organizations to Support | Bitch Media
TRANScending Barriers Atlanta Transgender Nonprofit (Atlanta)
Brave Space Alliance (Chicago)
Ingersoll Gender Center (Seattle)
New York Transgender Advocacy Group (nytag.org) (New York)
Boston Area Trans Support (massbats.org) (Boston)
Transgender Education Network of Texas (transtexas.org) (Texas)
TransAL | MobPride (Alabama)
BreakOUT! – Fighting the criminalization of LGBTQ youth in New Orleans, LA / Luchando contra la criminalización de los jóvenes LGBTQ en Nueva Orleans, LA (youthbreakout.org) (Louisiana)
Transgender Resources | The City of Portland, Oregon (portlandoregon.gov) (Portland resources)
Transinclusive Group (Florida)
Charleston Area Trans Support (chasareatsupport.org) (South Carolina)
LGBT Center of Raleigh (North Carolina)
Welcome to OUTMemphis – OUTMemphis (Tennessee)
Resources · Transformations KC • Kansas City’s Transgender Youth Group (Kansas and Missouri)
TEA of Utah (Utah)
The Center – Western Montana’s LGBTQ+ Community Center – Missoula (gaymontana.org) (Montana)
Identity Alaska – advancing Alaska’s LGBT community (Alaska)
Resources – Transgender Assistance Program of Virginia (tapvirginia.org) (Virginia)
StoneWall Society GLBT Resources in West Virginia (West Virginia resources)
TRANSGENDER SUPPORT – OKEQ – Oklahoma’s resource for LGBT persons and their families (Oklahoma)
Welcome to the Transgender Equality Network – Transgender Equality Network (transequalitynetwork.org) (Arkansas)

This past weekend, on September 18th, I had the privilege of attending the Long Beach Trans Pride Festival. I wanted to take a moment to share a little about the event and why it’s so important to me. As you know, I’m an LGBTQIA+ affirmative therapist in the Los Angeles area. I’ve been working in this field for over 16 years. I help the people of the community navigate the layers of gender, sexuality, culture, and race in a world that is still learning to accept and embrace the full spectrum of unique and beautiful expressions that exist.

Julia at Long Beach Trans Pride Festival

Over the same period, I’ve also been an advocate for the community. I’ve experienced, witnessed, and fought against the discrimination and oppression that a gender non-conforming community faces. For these reasons, when possible, I feel privileged and honored to be able to attend events like the Long Beach Trans Pride Festival. It’s both encouraging and a sign of progress to see many wonderful people and organizations dedicated to helping the lives of trans individuals and advocating for the transgender community.

What is the Long Beach Trans Pride Festival?

The Long Beach Trans Pride Festival began as an idea conceived by Alexa Castanon because she wanted to highlight trans people living, working, and thriving in Long Beach. She then took her vision to her friend Angel Macias. They began by creating Angels on Earth, an awards banquet to recognize transgender community members who were committing time and resources to help trans people but didn’t receive any compensation for their services.

Long Beach Trans Pride Booth at Festival

The stories of dedication, caring, and commitment inspired Angel to do more. Her goal was to utilize the platform to spread the message that members of the Trans Community deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, just like any other human being. That their lives are just as valuable and important as those of our cisgender brothers and sisters.
After witnessing the tragic killings of trans women of color, and attending vigils and rallies denouncing them, Angel decided to go even further. In collaboration with Alexa and other Trans members at California Families in Focus, they created the Long Beach Trans Pride Festival. The one-day event, calls upon the amazing, talented, and courageous members of the Long Beach Community to help educate, elevate and encourage Trans and gender non-conforming people.

In It Together

The festival was incredible, the atmosphere reverberated with positive energy. You could feel the openness, love, and support that every person was experiencing at the event. In addition to the attendees, there were also several organizations that invested time, money, and resources to make the event such a success. These organizations work hard to help people in various communities, and it is clear that their work and support are part of what makes big successes like the festival possible. Though I can’t list every organization, I do want to call out a few that supported the event but also do fantastic work for the community.

APLA Booth at Long Beach Trans Pride Festival

APLA Health

AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) Health is the largest founded in 1983. Almost 4 decades later they are one of the largest non-profit HIV service organizations in the United States. Their mission is to “achieve health care equity and promote well-being for the LGBT and other underserved communities and people living with and affected by HIV.” This is a fantastic organization that I personally have a lot of experience with, and it was great to see them at the festival standing by their commitment to helping the community.

The LGBTQ Center Long Beach Booth at the Trans Pride Festival

The LGBTQ Center Long Beach

The LGBTQ Center Long Beach has been around since 1980 and provides a variety of health, social, advocacy, legal, and service programs to the LGBTQ community in the Greater Long Beach area. This tremendous organization has been working hard to help the LGBTQ community for just over 40 years. I worked at the LA LGBTQ Center for a portion of my career and can attest to the amazing work that happens at these centers. They help many, many people and it was wonderful to see them showing support at the festival.

APIT booth at Trans Pride Long Beach Festival

APAIT

APAIT was established in 1987 as a grassroots AIDS service organization for Asian and Pacific Islanders suffering from AIDS. Over the past 30+ years, they’ve grown their vision to advocate, educate, and achieve optimal health and well-being for vulnerable communities. They are a large organization that works hard to provide helpful programs and resources for the communities they serve. Their presence at the Trans Pride festival is just another sign of their unparalleled commitment.

Translatina Coalition at Trans Pride Long Beach Festival

TransLatin@ Coalition

The TransLatin@ Coalition hasn’t been around as long as some of the others but they do excellent work. It was established in 2009 by a group of transgender and gender non-conforming and Intersex (TGI) immigrant women. Their focus is helping the TGI Latin@ immigrants living in the United States. It was great to see them at the Pride festival representing who they are and what they do.

TransLounge booth at Trans Pride Long Beach Festival

Trans* Lounge

Trans* Lounge is a bit different than the other organizations on this list. They are a program within the Cultural Arts & Education Department within the Los Angeles LGBT Center. I worked at the Los Angeles LGBT Center for a portion of my career and Trans* Lounge is an integral part of the organization. Trans* Lounge offers a variety of education and empowerment programs that offer free classes and events for the TGI/ENBY+ community. It is relatively new, having been created in mid-2015. They were a welcomed presence at the Pride festival.

A Fantastic Success

Overall, the Long Beach Trans Pride Festival was a fantastic success. It was amazing to see so many people show up to demonstrate their support. I spoke with numerous friends at the event, some of them are members of the community, therapists, or employees at some of these organizations. Everyone was thrilled with the turnout, the organization of the event and grateful to support such an important cause. Please note that this is not a complete list of the organizations that attended, this would be a very long post if I went through all of them. I just listed a few that stood out to me but there were many more people and organizations that helped make the event the resounding success that it was. I know I won’t miss the next one, I had an incredible time and even my puppy had fun.

Julia with puppy at Long Beach Trans Pride Festival

Social media has brought the world to our fingertips, but what does it ask for in return? Although free to use, social networking tools can cost us more than we can imagine. On the one hand, social media sites allow us to stay in touch with family and friends, reconnect, and have easy access to news and various communities. On the other hand, they expose us to the dangers of isolation, constant comparison with others, and the fear that we are not enough. Is social media usage affecting our mental health? Can we integrate it into our life without the risk of developing an obsession with likes, comments, and validation from strangers?

Why do people use social media platforms?

Social media is a tool that allows people to come together. In fact, during the current pandemic, social networking sites have proven to be an indispensable part of daily life for people to communicate and check on each other. Moreover, they helped them fight the feeling of loneliness triggered by the quarantines and lockdowns.

Furthermore, social media can make people feel good about themselves and boost self-esteem. Social media platforms follow the same principle that applies to slot machines. Players are not addicted to the game itself but to the unpredictability of the outcome. The idea of a potential future reward is the one that keeps them hooked. The same applies to your social media activity. You post a photo eager to see how many likes or comments it will get without knowing when people will interact with it.

The unknown outcome is the hook that keeps you addicted to your social media account. As soon as you receive a like, a share, or a comment, the brain’s reward center is activated and releases dopamine, also associated with the feeling of smoking a cigarette, winning the jackpot, or eating chocolate. The more likes you get, the more you’re rewarded, and the more you want to keep coming back and repeat the experience that makes you feel so good.

girl browsing her phone

 

How can social media affect our mental health?

Social media is relatively new, and there aren’t any long-term studies on the relation between social media and mental health disorders. However, numerous small studies have brought to light the negative aspects associated with spending many hours per day checking our social media accounts on various mobile devices.

The University of Pittsburgh conducted a study that highlighted a correlation between the time spent on social media apps and negative body image feedback. Moreover, a different study out of the Pittsburgh School of Medicine found a connection between the time young adults spend on social media platforms and the presence of symptoms of depression.

Several studies have found a correlation between social media usage and depression and symptoms of anxiety. One of them was published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology and linked social media with negative effects on well-being, particularly depressive symptoms, anxiety, and the feeling of loneliness. Paradoxically, the more time you’re spending on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media platforms, the lonelier you tend to feel.

Additionally, a large-scale study concluded that occasional social media users are three times less likely to experience symptoms of depression compared to heavy users. Humans are social beings who need face-to-face interaction to be mentally healthy. Social interaction skills like empathy and compassion are difficult to build in the absence of real human connection.

Many social media users have also reported accentuated feelings of inadequacy about their life or appearance following usage of social media platforms. Even though they know the images are edited, people still tend to compare themselves and feel insecure about the way they look or how they live.

One of the many other mental health issues associated with heavy usage of social media platforms, FOMO or the “fear of missing out” has been taking social media users by storm. Constantly checking social media platforms to see what other people are doing can exacerbate the fear they are being left behind. This phenomenon can create feelings of anxiety and lead to even greater social media usage to keep up and respond to every alert and status update.

How can we combat the effects social media has on our mental health?

There is no specific amount of time recommended for social media usage. You need to focus on how much time you spend on social media and the impact it has on your well-being. You should keep an eye on possible signs that may indicate an addiction to social media:

  • you spend more time on social media than with your offline social circles
  • you constantly compare yourself with others on social media
  • you feel distracted from work, school, relationships
  • you feel envious and angry with yourself for not “measuring” up
  • you feel anxious or depressed
  • you use social media to avoid dealing with negative emotions
  • you experience cyberbullying
  • you suffer from poor sleep
  • you have no time for self-reflection and self-care activities

As soon as you notice one or more of these signs, it’s important to reevaluate your social media habits and take action before it impacts your mental health. The first step to take is to reduce the time you spend on social media platforms. Sounds easy, but it often proves to be rather challenging!

A 2018 University of Pennsylvania study found that mental health issues associated with increased social media interaction can be reduced to a minimum if the usage is limited to 30 minutes a day. While in most cases such a “radical” measure is not necessary, a mindful approach will have a positive impact. Use an app to track how much time you spend on social media sites and set a realistic goal. Avoid bringing your mobile devices to bed and disable notifications. Check your phone less, maybe every hour or so. These are all efficient and easy methods to help you reduce the time you spend online.

You can also try to get to the bottom of why you are addicted to your social media apps. If you’re using it as a refuge from real-life issues like loneliness or depression, take the necessary steps to improve them with real-life tools. If you’re feeling lonely, interact with a friend. If you feel bored, go to the gym or take up a hobby. If you feel depressed, talk to a therapist.

Whenever you feel like social media is making you feel disappointed about your life, make a list of the positive aspects of your life. Learn to be grateful for what you already have. You already know that perfect lives don’t exist, so don’t try to keep up with an edited version. Be mindful and switch your focus from everything that you wish and hope you’ll one day achieve to the present. Allow yourself to be happy with who you are today and what you have now, and social media will no longer have a negative impact on your mental health.

girl smiling with phone