Mental Health Awareness Week is just kicking off at MSU, but even something that positive can leave some with a sour taste in their mouths and with good reason. It’s also nearly Transgender Awareness Week, (November 14-20), and nobody seems to know about it except for those within the LGBTQ+ community. One of the biggest mistakes that we can make as caring citizens, is focusing on important issues for a week or so, but then dropping them immediately after. The LGBTQ+ community feels left at an intersection, battered with high rates of mental health problems that need support with Mental Health Awareness Week, as well as needed support within the trans community for Transgender Awareness Week.
According to the journal article “Mental Health in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Youth” by Stephen T. Russell and Jessica N. Fish, both US and international studies consistently conclude that LGBT youth reported significantly elevated rates of emotional distress, symptoms related to mood and anxiety disorders, self-harm, suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior when compared to heterosexual youth (Eskin et al. 2005, Fergusson et al. 2005, Fleming et al. 2007, Marshal et al. 2011). Furthermore, compromised mental health is a fundamental predictor of a host of behavioral health disparities evident among LGBT youth, such as substance use, abuse, and dependence; Marshal et al. 2008).
So what does this mean? This means that during Mental Health Awareness week, Transgender Awareness Week (and beyond), we might need to spend a little extra time helping not only ourselves but our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors as well. Fortunately, the LGBTQ+ Resource Center on campus has lots of upcoming events so you can show your support.
Nov 14 there will be a reception titled “Being Transgender Today: Trans People #WontBeErased” from 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. in the Mosaic Multicultural Center in the MSU Union.
There, Dr. Jo Codde, a transgender woman and advocate for the transgender community will address the troubling NY Times article from October 21, explaining how the transgender and gender variant community has been under attack by an administration dead set on erasing all those who do not fit within their narrow definition of gender. She will also share her thoughts, experiences and concerns about what it means to her to be transgender today.
Monday, November 17 is the “What’s the T?” event with SPECTRUM at 8 p.m. in E-10 Holmes
Spectrum is coming together to have a conversation about the upcoming Transgender Day of Remembrance and what it means for the queer community. SPECTRUM is the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Allied Caucus of East Neighborhood. The goal of the group is to provide a safe space where individuals are able to express who they are without fear of judgment.
Tuesday, November 18 is the Fashion Week Drag Show with PRISM at 8 p.m. in Wonders Kiva
It’s a drag show! What’s not to love?
Wednesday, November 19 is the Trans* Inclusion Workshop with the Alliance of Queer and Ally Students at 6:30 p.m. in 114 Berkey Hall.
Join us in support of Transgender Day of Remembrance Week for an educational workshop about the Trans* community lead by Angelica Ross. Angelica is a transgender woman of color who expresses herself through the production of music.
Thursday, November 20 is the Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil
at 7:30 p.m. behind Student Services, Warmup in Room 6 of Student Services
Here, all the names of transgender people who have lost their lives so far this year will be read aloud. Their lives will be celebrated, honored and remembered.
Friday, November 21 is the Trans People of Color Meet and Greet at 4 p.m. in the LBGT Resource Center, 302 Student Services
A great way to meet new people! There will be snacks, games, and they’ll play ‘The T Word’, an MTV special created by Laverne Cox from ‘Orange is the New Black’!
Wednesday, November 28 is the Color Me Queer-Discussion Group at 6 p.m. in the LBGT Resource Center, 302 Student Services
Color Me Queer is a discussion group facilitated by the LBGT Resource Center. The group is open to all who identify as Black, African-American, Asian, Asian-American, Native American, Indigenous, Latinx, multiracial, or allies educated on race, privilege, difference and white supremacy. Participants will have the opportunity to build community, resource share, share MSU experiences and do goal setting. If you are interested in discussing societal issues that span sexuality, gender and race as well as strategies for self-care, please consider joining us!
Above, we’ve listed several really cool ways to show support, so put on your gay pants, your ally pants, or whatever pants you feel like and show some support for a community that truly deserves it.
Sources: Statistics: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4887282/
Image and parts of event descriptions: https://www.facebook.com/pg/MSULBGTRC/events/?ref=page_internal
Melissa Sefernick is a senior in arts and humanities and professional writing, with a concentration in writing, editing, and publishing. Aside from her interests in content creation, she loves art, social media, metal music, swimming, petting dogs and “alternative fashion.”