Resources for Dealing with Gender Inequity
Support Groups Get LGBTQ+ Individuals Talking
“Find some group to talk to. Any kind of support group that you can visit, join. And really physically talk.”
This is what member of the Thomas Paine Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Welcoming Congregation and transgender woman Lilia Weber had to say to anyone unsure about their gender identity.
Visiting a support group and interacting with individuals who have common experiences is a recurring recommendation for someone dealing with their gender identity. Attending support groups is extremely beneficial to individuals struggling with any type of gender or sexuality issue, but especially for transgender people.
The American Psychological Association reported that support groups unite individuals with a common identity and a sense of shared purpose. Support groups also provide people with the opportunity to learn how others have dealt with similar experiences and give them the chance to openly discuss issues they had not yet verbalized.
Sophie Kandler, writer of the award-winning transgender blog, A Woman Named Sophie, attended the same support group as Weber and said it helped her understand her gender identity better. Kandler appreciates the support group because it was important to have a new circle of confidants, especially after she lost some of her old friends after she came out.
“I met people and assembled a support net,” Kandler said. “And I met some of my dearest friends there. When I transitioned in 2014, I lost most of my Lance friends— my dead name’s* Lance. I was disowned by my parents. I had been thrown out of where I was living. My best friend had committed suicide. But I had so many friends who knew me for me. [They] became my support group. They became my rock, my family.”
Other groups and associations that transgender individuals, others in the LGBTQ+ community, people experiencing gender inequity and survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault can visit include the National Center for Transgender Equality, a social equality organization in Washington, D.C.; the Mazzoni Center, an LGBTQ+ education, healthcare and legal advice provider in Philadelphia; the Attic Youth Center, which provides programming for LGBTQ+ youth, also in Philadelphia; the Delaware County Women Against Rape, an organization that provides direct services to survivors of sexual assault.
For individuals unable to physically visit support groups, centers or organizations, the internet is a vast place to learn more and connect with others.
Yenchick said, “I found people on mainly Instagram, because I kind of wanted to see the process more, because you can read and read and read as much as you want, but you can only get so much by reading and I’m more of a visual person. So I started looking into Instagram and using hashtags and finding people.”
Finding others online with similar experiences helped Yenchick recognize what we has going through and following their journeys made his easier.
“I kind of came to terms with, like, ‘Oh, I think this is, like, a process I need to need to start,’ and asked the transgender people that I had met along the way, like, how to start and started going into my transition,” Yenchick said.
Because of how social media benefited Yenchick and his self-discovery, he wants to use it the same way to help others.
“Watching their stories and, like, that helped me with how I now do my social media. I want to get it more out there and I want people to be able to search hashtags and be like, ‘Oh, this person!’ and kind of, like, follow their journey,” Yenchick said.
Morgan Woodin, a female-to-male transgender student at Clarion University, agreed that the internet is a key tool for individuals experiencing these things.
Unlike Yenchick, Woodin did not have access to gender inequity issues through social media. Regardless, he also wants to show his journey digitally and help others.
“That was something that I never had. And that’s why I am so visible on everything that I do, because I want some kid from my hometown to see me and be able to connect with me and to know, one: it gets better, and two: I’m not alone in this world,” Woodin said.
Yenchick and Woodin said that social media is a critical platform when connecting with individuals and learning more online, but there are also websites and organizations that can be accessed.
Whether it is digitally or in person, someone you trust or someone you can relate to, Woodin said it is important to talk to others when you are discovering your gender identity.
While the internet provides many individuals with the opportunity to find and connect with people with similar experiences online as well as learn more in general about these topics, Weber said the ability to meet with individuals in person is invaluable.
“There’s something about seeing a person and having a conversation eye-to-eye versus over online,” Weber said. “You just can’t— I have friends online. No question. And in fact, some of them I’ve met within the trans community. But I think the people that I know personally, I think those are the ones you really get a sense of who you are relative to where they are. And it’s not like you’re just trying to compare, but it helps solidify, I think, where each person is.”
By Coraline Pettine