You're Here : Home Blog

Thoughts from your President

Greetings ALGBTIC Members,

Boston_shoes_picAs of now I'm sure you have heard of the events near the end of the Boston Marathon course. As a runner and past participant of the Boston Marathon I was particularly touched by the amazing reaction from our first responders, athletes and people across the world. We must remember that the Boston Marathon is a global event that brings an amazing diversity of people from across the planet to compete.

In contemplating my thoughts I put in 16 miles today for the victims of violence in Boston and around the world. Sadly this was not the only violence we saw yesterday. There were bombings in the Middle East, some young LGBTQ persons committed suicide and others died on U.S. streets. Violence is an epidemic we all can strive to eliminate within our communities. We wont stop running and refuse to let the light of peace and love be extinguished. Anyone care to put in a few extra miles?

Rainbow_Run_5kAdditionally I would like to commend our membership on another fantastic ACA Conference! We are doing the work to bring about a better world including bringing more counselors into the fold from our ALGBTIC-sponsored education sessions to Queer People of Color Gathering to the successful 1st Annual ALGBTIC/ACES Rainbow Run 5k & 1 Mile Walk for Mental Wellness & Equality. The proceeds from this race are going to a great organization in the Cincinnati area known as the Midwest Trans & Queer Wellness Initiative and another mental health agency to be named!

We want to thank all those who participated and volunteered in all events at ACA and to those of you working for equality in your communities! I encourage you to become involved in our activities by emailing me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . I leave you with this quote from a great purveyor of social justice and equality:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

be well,
Pete Finnerty

Pete Finnerty MS, LPC, NCC
President, Assoc. of LGBT Issues in Counseling (ACA)
Doctoral Candidate-Kent State University
Licensed Professional Counselor-Counseling For Wellness-Kent, OH

ACA Talent Show

ALGBTIC! This year ACA is putting on a talent show and one of our own, Joel Filmore, will be showcasing his Drag talents! Please come out and support Joel and show some Pride. The Talent Show is at 8:00pm on Saturday evening in the Grand Ballroom... SEE YOU THERE!

ALGBTIC Rainbow Run 5k & 1 Mile Walk for Mental Wellness & Equality

Hello colleagues,

I want to formally invite you and your colleagues to partake in our wellness and fundraising event on Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 8am. The proceeds of this race will benefit two Cincinnati nonprofits - a LGBTQ organization and a mental health recovery organization.

We will have unique age group categories including: men, women, transgender/androgynous and differently-abled along with great T-shirts for all those who register. You can see the course maps and register online at:

http://www.active.com/running/cincinnati-oh/rainbow-run-5k-and-1-mile-walk-2013

We are still looking for volunteers and prospective corporate, organizational and divisional sponsors for the race to gain more proceeds to the nonprofit organizations. Please note you can both volunteer and race/walk. We hope to see you there. Details are below!

 

Rainbow Run 5K & 1-Mile Walk for Mental Wellness & Equality Sawyer Point Park & Yeatman's Cove Park
705 E. Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati, OH. 45202
Sunday March 24, 2013, 8:00am

Basic Information and FAQ for Race Day

Pricing: The 5K Run & 1-Mile Walk is $20 if you register on or before Friday March 1st and $25 after March 1st.

Registration & Packet Pick-up:  

 

  • Online Registration until March 22nd at http://www.active.com/running/cincinnati-oh/rainbow-run-5k-and-1-mile-walk-2013. Credit card only.
  • Mail in Registration until March 10 by completing the registration form, signing the waiver, and making out CHECK ONLY to Pete Finnerty. Mail ALL 3 ITEMS to: Pete Finnerty, 1001 S. Lincoln St., Kent, OH 44240.
  • Race Day Registration: Race day we will accept CASH OR CHECK only.
  • Race day registration and packet pick-up is registration from 6:30am-7:45am and will take place in the Center Tunnel, under the Purple People Bridge, between Sawyer Point Park & Yeatman's Cove Park at 705 E. Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati, OH. 45202.

Proceeds: Proceeds will benefit a local LGBTQ organization and a local mental health recovery organization.

T-Shirts: T-Shirts are guaranteed for all participants who register on or before Sunday March 17, 2013. After that time you are not guaranteed a T-shirt. Shirts are short-sleeve and made from cotton and range in size from small-XXL.

Volunteers: Volunteers will be provided by ALGBTIC. Volunteers should arrive at the start line at 6:00am.

Race Course: See course maps and course FAQ. The course will be marked with chalk, cones, and signs.

Food & Drink: There will be an aid station on course providing water. Food and drink will be provided after the run & walk.

Restrooms: Restrooms are available on site near the start/finish line.

Parking: Parking is available at the race site. You may have to pay to park. Further information on transportation will be listed as it becomes available on ALGBTIC.org and ALGBTIC's Facebook page.

First Aid: There will be medical staff on hand to ensure a safe race.

Presenting Sponsor: The Rainbow Run 5K & 1-Mile Walk for Mental Wellness & Equality are presented by the Association of LGBT Issues in Counseling (ALGBTIC) in cooperation with Zoom Multisport Racing and Key Sports Inc.

USATF Sanctioning: This will be a USA Track and Field Sanctioned Race.

Questions: Please contact the race director Pete Finnerty at Phone: 559-230-7494 or Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

5K Race Awards: 5K Race awards will be given to the top 3 individuals overall in each of the following categories: Men, Women, Androgynous/Transgender, & Differently-Abled. Awards will also be given to the overall winner in each of the following age groups: 15 and under, 15-19, 20- 29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60+. Overall award category winners cannot also win age group awards.

Pete Finnerty, MS, LPC
President, ALGBTIC
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

ALGBTIC Response to Current Issues Facing the LGBTQQIA Community and Counselors

Hello ALGBTIC members,

I am writing to all counselors, educators, and related professionals in a CALL TO ACTION. Currently we are faced with several issues, some specific to counseling, others to equality.... all to differential forms of continued advocacy with and for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and ally (LGBTQQIA) community. Although such issues for the community are continually prevalent, we have several pieces of recent legislation to be concerned about. The Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Issues in Counseling (ALGBTIC) would like you to consider the following:

As counseling is inherently measured by and intertwined with optimal wellness, we shall begin with the affirmative. In California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed into law SB-1172, which prohibits the use of sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) on minors by practicing therapists. Here is the law as passed:

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml;jsessionid=cf4b18c9559441402de7096325a0

This is a huge victory for counselors, psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, marriage and family therapists, and other mental health professionals, who understand that reparative or conversion therapies pose serious risks to clients. ALGBTIC has consistently and fervently noted the following in regard to SOCE practices, most recently in the "ALGBTIC Competencies for Counseling LGBQQIA Individuals" (ALGBTIC, 2012):

"(Counselors) Understand that attempts to "alter," "repair," "convert," or "change" the affectional orientations or gender identities/expressions of LGBQQ individuals are detrimental or may even be life- threatening, are repudiated by empirical and qualitative findings, and must not be undertaken. When individuals inquire about previously noted techniques, counselors should advise them of the potential harm related to these interventions and focus on helping individuals to achieve a healthy, congruent affectional orientation or gender identity/expression. Counseling approaches that are affirmative of these identities and realities are supported by empirical findings, best practices, and professional organizations such as ACA and APA (p.5)."

Furthermore:

1. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, etc. is not an aspect of one's self that should or needs to be changed. This would be akin to noting someone should change their skin, eye, or hair color because of societal pressure.

2. Sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) are not backed by quality research (i.e. Spitzer, 2003) and can actually be quite harmful as noted by multiple independent research studies and commissions in counseling, psychology, social work, etc.

3. SOCE have been connected to severe depression, anxiety, lowered self-esteem, etc. and may lead to suicidal ideation/attempts and serious physical symptoms associated with mental health issues.

ALGBTIC fully supports laws that protect LGBTQQI youth and clients of all ages from SOCE, otherwise known as reparative or conversion therapies. ALGBTIC also fervently supports the development of and continued advocacy of allies to the LGBTQQI community at all governmental, institutional, organizational, educational, and communal levels. Sadly, this current law that prohibits SOCE is already experiencing challenges in the courts:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/05/us/judge-blocks-california-conversion-therapies-law.html?smid=pl-share

State Representative Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia) has also introduced legislation banning reparative therapy for minors (H.B. 2691) in the state of Pennsylvania. See her statement below:

http://www.pahouse.com/PR/182100512.asp

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) has introduced similar legislation in the form of a resolution known as the "Stop Harming Our Kids Resolution" (H.CON.RES.141) in the US House of Reps. See this legislation here:

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/D?d112:21:./temp/~bdtFzy::

Please note the ACA Governing Council's inclusion in this bill as one of entities that dismissed the notion that one's sexual orientation should or could be changed. The ACA Governing Council's 1999 statement is noted within the bill alongside several other mental health organizations' statements, with actual research on the topic specifically noted. Currently there are 11 co-sponsors to this vital legislation.

While we celebrate these gains, we still have many anti-LGBTQQIA laws or practices that need our attention. In regards to equal treatment, I cannot fail to mention SB-975 in Michigan, which is inherently anti-LGBTQQI and discriminatory towards multiple communities. This legislation goes even further than previous legislation in Arizona, which allows counselors to discriminate against LGBTQQIA persons for religious reasons. Both the Arizona legislation, which was signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ), and the SB975 in Michigan deal with issues of "conscience". The fundamental difference between the two bills is that Michigan's bill extends the right to discriminate to medical professionals along with practicing counselors and therapists, and even allows those persons to not be punished by their organizations for discrimination. Thus, a medical/mental health professional can decide to deny treatment to anyone based upon "conscience" (inherently one's personal values). This is obviously a seriously troubling ethical issue, which would allow direct violation of the ACA Code of Ethics' specific code requiring the ethical practice of non-discrimination. In essence and substance, this legislation means that marginalized populations, such as (but not limited to) the LGBTQQIA community, may have even less access to needed counseling, medical treatment, testing, and even emergency care. I strongly suggest reading the bill in its entirety to understand the scope of effect, which is nearly limitless as it leaves all clients/patients vulnerable to discrimination. Please see the bill here:

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(4xwxtuqpbkl2id3wnvsvbjrx))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=2012-SB-0975

ALGBTIC strongly opposes this legislation and the current law in Arizona because of the inherent discrimination written into each. ALGBTIC also addresses issues of "values" in the recent set of Competencies in the "Professional Orientation and Ethical Practice" section (ALGBTIC, 2012):

"E. 3. (Counselors will:) Consult with supervisors/colleagues when their personal values conflict with counselors' professional obligations related to LGBQQ individuals about creating a course of action that promotes the dignity and welfare of LGBQQ individuals (p.16)."

Please note the lack of discrimination as valid practice in this statement. Denying treatment and discrimination is antithetical to "the dignity and welfare of LGBQQ(IA) individuals,", thus laws that seek to allow it are intruding deeply into personal rights and ethical professional practices of "do no harm". Furthermore, these types of laws denigrate counseling approaches that affirm and respect the client.

In addition to these pressing issues there are a myriad of other issues facing the community. Currently, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has decided to hear two cases of LGBTQQIA rights including benefits for legally married same-sex federal employees and California's Prop 8 case. There are obviously additional issues currently facing LGBTQQIA communities I have not noted here.

Here are some of the ways we can advocate for positive change:

1. As time is of the essence please contact Michigan's Governor, Rick Snyder, to strongly urge him to veto SB-975, as it only requires his signature to go into effect. You can do so at the following link:

http://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277-57827-267869--,00.html

2. Write letters to legislators/editors of periodicals and other forms of media in Michigan denouncing SB-975, which allows medical/mental health professionals to discriminate against others based upon "conscience".

3. Write letters to U.S. and state legislators at both the House and Senate levels in strong support of Rep. Jackie Speier's "Stop Harming Our Kids" and PA State Rep. Babette Josephs' H.B. 2691 legislation. Ideally we desire co-sponsors in the House and a corresponding bill introduced in the Senate with co-sponsors to support such legislation.

4. All interested parties can write letters to the editor of periodicals such as local/national newspapers, magazines and other periodicals supporting marriage equality, equal treatment in regards to housing, adoption practices, medical/mental health treatment, school policies, etc.

5. Bring these issues to light in your agencies, schools, administrations, and classrooms.

7. Be an advocate and inspire others in their journeys of social justice advocacy.

8. For those in counselor education, strongly consider what you can do in your role as a gatekeeper to the profession.

9. Please read and share ALGBTIC's two sets of competencies (Transgender and LGBQQIA) and other resources at algbtic.org for more ideas of how to effectively advocate as an ally for and with LGBTQQI community members. For your convenience here is the direct link to the sets of competencies: http://www.algbtic.org/resources/competencies.

10. The LGBTQIQA community needs everyone to become engaged and involved. Some of our lives will depend on it. Make your spaces safe for all persons. Please contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to become involved with ALGBTIC today!

Thank you for your time and continued perseverance!

Warmly,

Pete Finnerty MS, LPC, NCC
Proud President, Assoc. of LGBT Issues in Counseling (ALGBTIC), a division of ACA
Doctoral Candidate-Kent State University
Licensed Professional Counselor-Counseling For Wellness-Kent, OH

President's Message

Hello ALGBTIC Members,

As the seasons change I am reminded of how transformative human and environmental interaction can be. Watching the images and hearing the stories from colleagues and friends regarding Hurricane Sandy's devastation on the East Coast and Atlantic has made me think of how we are all connected in one way or the other. The incredible outpouring of support from those across the country and globe reminds me of how many respond to their responsibility to others. I'd like to offer the links below if you wish to donate your time or resources to the efforts. Even if you don't utilize the Red Cross please note the possibility of other organizations.

http://www.redcross.org

http://www.americares.org

There are always things you can do in your own community such as raising funds, donating needed supplies or as counselors we can also gain experience in crisis counseling and become certified as a Red Cross Mental Health Volunteers. You can find out more at the American Counseling Association (ACA) link below or at your local Red Cross office about certification. ACA also holds a training every year at the annual ACA Conference so one can become certified. As the disasters seem to occur nearly every year around the globe becoming trained through several avenues can allow a counselor opportunities to help those in immediate need.

http://www.counseling.org/sub/dmh/redcross.aspx

As I see people struggling through the effects of intense weather I am specifically reminded of those who are disproportionately affected or who face additional barriers and challenges in our country, including those in the LGBTQQIA community. I try to stay out of political conversations while wearing my Presidential hat but at the same time there are present issues with Election Day only a couple days away that are of specific concern for our community. The referendums and candidates will affect our and our clients' communities for years, if not decades, to come. Four states have referendums on marriage equality, others have local and state initiatives to grant or limit rights to LGBTQQI couples, families, and individuals. There are also conversations at the national, regional, state and local levels going on about which candidates for office are more attuned to LGBTQQIA needs. Whatever end of the political spectrum you are on I highly encourage you to be an informed voter and remember what your votes cast represent for our clients, community and the nation.

ALGBTIC and ACA have been involved in several issues in the country including the recently passed legislation in Arizona that allows counselors to discriminate against clients for religious reasons. ALGBTIC is also actively involved in the similar "Julea Ward Freedom of Conscience Act" in Michigan that passed the Michigan House of Representatives and is awaiting consideration in the Senate chamber. ALGBTIC is active in sending letters to legislators and working alongside other organizations in combating these federal, state and local issues.

Although we have some challenges ahead there are also some excellent accomplishments to note! ALGBTIC has partnered with GAYLESTA, a group in California who was a large part in challenging therapists who utilize reparative or conversion therapy. In early October Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a ban on utilizing conversion and other sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) with minors. The governor even called SOCE therapeutic interventions "quackery". This shows progress on these issues from the legislators and shows how we "be the change we wish to see" noted by Ghandi. If you are interested in working with us on any of these issues please email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it !

Currently we have two committees that are working from different angles on these types of issues. Our LGBTQ Affirmative Therapy and Social Justice Committee has worked tirelessly to both promote affirmative therapeutic modalities and combat SOCE interventions. On the prevention end of the spectrum our new Ally Development Taskforce is developing initiatives to create safe spaces for our clients and engage many counselors and others in being outstanding allies in our schools, agencies and community settings on all systemic levels. Please be looking for the "Competencies for Counseling with LGBQIQA Individuals" shortly in our Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling. We are also looking for ALGBTIC members to participate in disseminating the new competencies at state conferences, in their workplaces and communities. Overall we are making significant progress towards equality and ending discrimination for our clients and in many cases ourselves. I pledge to keep up the good work and hope you will join ALGBTIC and I in making our future better for those who come after us and those who walk into our offices and classrooms each day. Please keep those affected by Sandy and all injustices in your hearts.

Sincerely,

Pete Finnerty MS, LPC, NCC
President, Assoc. of LGBT Issues in Counseling (ACA)
Doctoral Candidate-Kent State University
Licensed Professional Counselor-Counseling For Wellness-Kent, OH

2012 Officer Nominations

Hello everyone,

ALGBTIC will be taking nominations for elections during the 2012 Annual ACA Convention at the ALGBTIC Open Membership Meeting (formerly called the Business Meeting). If you or someone you know is interested in serving the division, please feel free to nominate them or yourself.

The Open Membership Meeting is scheduled for Sunday, March 27th, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and will be listed in your program guide. If you cannot attend, you can submit a letter of nomination acceptance to be shared in the meeting in writing to Pete Finnerty, ALGBTIC President-Elect ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ), or you can send it along with someone else who will be attending.

In your letter please address your qualifications for the position and what interests you in serving. The open positions for this year are:

• President-elect-elect (beginning July 1, 2013)

• Secretary (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2015)

• Board Trustee I (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2016)

• Graduate Student Trustee (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014)- This is a new position specifically designed to increase the voice of graduate students on the ALGBTIC Board. This Board trustee attends Board meeting, vote on important ALGBTIC issues and concentrates on projects and issues related to graduate student concerns. This position is designed for a current ALGBTIC graduate student.

We will also be talking about the upcoming year including a new taskforce I am organizing regarding Ally Development. I hope to meet and greet many of you who are interested in our organization and wish to be an active part! If you have some friends who may be interested bring them along.

If you have questions about any of the positions or about our Open Membership Meeting, please feel free to email me at the email address above (please do not reply to this message, as it will go out to the whole list). All members are welcome to attend our Open Membership Meeting. Please come and find out about what ALGBTIC has been doing and meet other ALGBTIC members. We look forward to seeing you there!

Be well,

Pete Finnerty
ALGBTIC President-Elect
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

ALGBTIC Events at ACA in March

Hello ALGBTIC MEMBERS!

I hope life is well and you are all excited for ACA in San Francisco! For those you making the trip I wanted to send you the information for some of the ALGBTIC Events so you can consider them in your planning.

ALGBTIC Safe Schools Task Force LGBTQIQA Safe Zone Training (in concordance with the National-Gay Straight Alliance Network) is Thursday, March 22, 2012 from 3pm-6pm inMoscone Convention Center Room 2018

This special education session is limited to 50 people and an RSVP is requested. To RSVP please email Anneliese Singh at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

ALGBTIC Queer People of Color Gathering is Friday, March 23rd from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. in Golden Gate 3

This gathering celebrates the intersectionality of diversity through offering a space for LGBTQIQA persons of color to meet and greet. Please remember this is for all members and interested parties who value diversity.

ALGBTIC Happy Hour is Friday March 23rd from 5pm-6pm in the Hilton's Urban Tavern bar.

Come celebrate with ALGBTIC at one of San Francisco's trendy bars in the ACA Conference Hotel. See options for purchase including appetizers, beverages and or a quick meal at http://www.urbantavernsf.com/.

ALGBTIC Reception is Friday, March 23rd from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in Yosemite A

Join ALGBTIC members and prospective members for light appetizers and the option to purchase a beverage as we meet and greet each other before the ACA Kickoff Reception. Bring a friend or colleague who's interested in ALGBTIC to meet our members.

ALGBTIC Brunch is Saturday March 24th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Moscone West Convention Center Room 3016

Join us for our annual awards and division brunch to enjoy the company of friends and celebrate the spirit of ALGBTIC and the LGBTQIQA community. If you have yet to purchase your ticket please do so soon by navigating the ACA site to purchase your ticket online or simply call ACA Member Services at 1-(800) 347-6647. There are only a few tickets left so act soon.

ALGBTIC Annual Open Member Meeting and Nominations is Sunday March 25th, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in Franciscan D.

This meeting is open for all persons to come share in ALGBTIC's yearly plan. Members will be able to share their interests, concerns, and ideas for the coming year.

During this time nominations for leadership positions within ALGBTIC will be taken or letters will be read which express the nomination of an individual to a leadership position.

If you cannot attend, you can submit a letter of nomination acceptance to be read in the meeting in writing to Pete Finnerty, ALGBTIC President-Elect ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or you can send it along with someone else who will be attending. In your letter please address your qualifications for the position and what interests you in serving.

The open positions for this year are:

• President-elect-elect (beginning July 1, 2013)

• Secretary (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2015)

• Board Trustee I (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2016)

• Graduate Student Trustee (July 1, 2013-June 30, 2014)- This is a new position specifically designed to increase the voice of graduate students on the ALGBTIC Board. This Board trustee attends Board meeting, vote on important ALGBTIC issues and concentrates on projects and issues related to graduate student concerns. This position is designed for a current ALGBTIC graduate student.

For this coming year I will be creating a taskforce focusing on Ally Development to better serve our constituents in schools and communities. Be looking for an email soon detailing election nominations and other items coming up this year.

Please let me know if you have any questions. I hope to see you all in San Francisco!

Pete Finnerty
ALGBTIC President-Elect

LGBTQ People and the holiday season

The holiday season is here, and many LGBTQIQA people will be making plans for how they will navigate the various holidays that they choose to celebrate. This time of year can be one filled with warmth, connection, joy, and a little relaxation, or it can be a stressful time, filled with loneliness, regret, hurt feelings, anger, or sadness. For LGBTQIQA people, the holiday season is often dictated by the lived experience of being LGBTQIQA. Now is a more important time than ever for our Allies and community to support the LGBTQIQA people in their lives, whether to join in celebrations or to reach out with a supportive gesture.

I wanted to take a moment to remind you of some of the issues that many LGBTQIQA people will face this holiday season. The ongoing process of coming out is of particular focus for the lives of LGBTQIQA individuals. Some individuals have come out to their families and/or loved ones and have been rejected, disowned, or had their relationships damaged as a result. For those who have experienced this, the holidays can be particularly painful and lonely. For those who have come out and received some level of acceptance from their families/loved ones, they may face issues such as bringing a partner home for the holidays for the first time, having family respond to physical changes of a transition, or navigating fragile relationships with different family members/loved ones present. Some LGBTQIQA individuals may be out to a few supportive family members and not to others, making it difficult to be oneself in the presence of these different kinds of relationships. Others have come out only to have this information subsequently ignored (and thus they may have to go through the process a second time). Some who are out to their families and loved ones may have partners who are not out, and these differences in outness can create conflict or just make the holidays more difficult to navigate. For those who have not come out, the strain of hiding their identities through the holiday season (where families often try to catch up on what is going on in each other's lives) can lead to additional stress and feelings of being misunderstood and alone.

A common theme for the holidays for a lot of people is loss. When we have lost family members or friends, the holidays can be a particularly challenging. If those losses are obscured by issues related to our LGBTQ identity (loss of a partner that our family or friends are not aware of or if we were never able to come out to someone before we lose them), suffering in silence alongside others who do not understand our experiences can make the holidays even more difficult. If we have lost members in our community (particularly from suicide or murder), the holidays may remind us of the hardships we experience as LGBTQ individuals. Whether losses occurred on/near the holiday or if the loss was someone we used to spend time with during this season, the holidays can be a time of particularly painful grieving.

Additionally, if homophobic, biphobic, or transphobic remarks are used through the holidays in the presence of LGBTQ individuals, it can cause further hurt and strain relationships. It can also remind us of the ways we have been rejected in our lives. If someone already experiences seasonal depression or other mental health concerns, any of these additional stressors over the holidays can really add up.

These issues are just some of the more common themes that come up for LGBTQ people at this time of year. As with anything, having supportive members of our community and our chosen families to provide that extra bit of support this time of year can be particularly important. It is also a season that reminds us to give thanks for the good that has been a part of our journeys as well. As ALGBTIC President, I want to take a moment to thank the members of our communities, and especially our Allies, for all that they do. Your support is imperative to our lives, and we will never be able to express this appreciation enough. This is a good time of year for giving as well, so I urge you to consider supporting your favorite local or national/international organizations that promote the rights and dignity of LGBTQ individuals around the globe.

No matter what holiday you and yours celebrate, I wish you the love and acceptance you deserve. A student who works at a local community agency recently talked about a concept used at her internship site called "creating a new normal", from the work of Sylvia Coleman. It describes the process we go through when we let go of things in our lives that are not working for us and take on new behaviors. These new behaviors constitute the "new normal". While what was "normal" to us before may have been unhealthy or harmful to us, this idea reminds us that we can start over, make new traditions, be different in the world, and that we can reclaim these new beginnings as our center any time we like. So my wish for everyone for this holiday season is that if you have struggled through the holidays in the past, that you are able to create a new center for yourself, that you are able to heal from past hurts, and that your new normal can be marked by acceptance, cheer, goodwill, peace, and love. For our communities, my wish is that we are able to create a "new normal" in our world that includes LGBTQIQA lived experiences and identities and celebrate each for the important differences we hold.

Amney Harper, Ph.D.
President, Association of LGBT Issues in Counseling

Transgender Committee Response to DSM V proposed Gender Dysphoria diagnosis

Upon reviewing the proposed DSM V Gender Dysphoria diagnosis, the Transgender Committee for the Association of LGBT Issues in Counseling (a division of the American Counseling Association) has determined our position. We will be focusing on diagnosis in adults as the Committee has less experience regarding issues affecting transgender youth.

We realize that some progress has been made. To illustrate, the Committee appreciates that the diagnosis is no longer listed with Sexual Disorders, as we believe that this will support practitioner clarity in the diagnostic process, and prevent confusion with the etymology of gender dysphoria. The removal of the term "disorder" is similarly a positive direction, and we commend this decision. Additionally, the removal of the Sexuality specifier lends greater clarity to the relatedness of sex and gender without conflating either. We also appreciate the Dimensional Assessments for assessing severity.

In addition to the strengths we noted, we have identified some opportunities that we believe bear consideration for improving the diagnostic process, as well as the diagnosis itself. The assessment questions need to be clearer for a non-mental health professional audience, as it is likely that practitioners will choose to use this as an instrument in diagnostic assistance. The terms "primary and secondary sex characteristics" could be clarified by identifying examples of bodily features to which these refer. Transgender persons often do extensive research in self-exploration, and it would be helpful for them, as well, to be able to clearly understand all of the questions in this very valuable section. It is important for transpeople to be empowered consumers of mental health services given that the particular type of treatment depends on diagnosis. For example, gender queer individuals who may not wish to change secondary sex characteristics may not receive the diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria.

The label "gender dysphoria" is one that we find problematic in that the term itself suggests that that the person's gender is a source of disturbance. We have seen significant blocks to transgender social mobility created by intolerant and transphobic cultures, and would wish to see these elements used in naming the diagnosis, itself. Many cultures revere or at least do not pathologize transgender experiences: the Hijira of India and Pakistan, the Kathoeys (or "ladyboys") of Thailand, Two-Spirit individuals (Winkte of Lakota), Mashoga of Swahili-speaking areas of the Kenyan coast, and the Waria of Indonesia are examples. The fact that United States cultures, rooted as we are in Eurocentric medical norms, do not recognize gender in more flexible and non-pathologizing terms does not legitimize the APA's collusion with transphobia in naming transgender persons as "dysphoric."

Moreover, the new criteria includes, "a significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, disability, or an important loss of freedom" (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Proposed Revision (5th ed., DSM-5, in process.) Firstly, the overall body of literature regarding mental health problems is inconclusive. As well, we believe that transgender people should not be pathologized for distress caused by actions of others such as bullying and more severe forms of transphobia. We believe that for most transpeople, transphobia itself is linked to mental health conditions, not their gender identity. The research provides supporting evidence as documented by the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NCTE & NGLTF, 2009). The minority stress literature (e.g., Meyer, 2003, Waldo 1999) has shown that prejudice and stigma has been linked to increased levels of mental health problems in sexual minorities. A more recent study (Kelleher, 2009) revealed similar findings among LGBT youth.

Though there has been some societal progress regarding acceptance of transgender people and increased visibility through the media, transgender people continue to experience severe discrimination and prejudice. As documented by the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NCTE & NGLTF, 2009), fifty-three percent (53%) of respondents reported being verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodation, half were discriminated at work, and just over 25 percent lost a job because of their transgender identity.

Lastly, the Committee does not believe that the post-transition specifier be included. According to the DSM revision proposal itself, people do not have gender dysphoria following transition and therefore should not be diagnosed with this condition.

The Transgender Committee

ALGBTIC Competencies Update

An Update on the ALGBTIC Competencies for Counseling with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Ally Individuals

Authors of the Competencies for Counseling LGBQQIA Individuals/ALGBTIC LGBQQIA Competencies Taskforce Members: Amney Harper (co-chair), Pete Finnerty (co-chair), Margarita Martinez, Amanda Brace, Hugh Crethar, Bob Loos, Brandon Harper, Stephanie Graham, Anneliese Singh, Michael Kocet, Linda Travis, and Serena Lambert

The LGBQIQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer, Intersex, Questioning and Ally) Competencies Taskforce of the Association for LGBT issues in Counseling (ALGBTIC) has been developing an updated set of competencies to use in professional counseling practice, research and training with LGBQIQA clients.  This taskforce has been working diligently on these competencies for the past two years.  The taskforce was originally convened under the direction of Michael Kocet, previous ALGBTIC President, and continued during Past-President Mike Chaney’s term in the last year.  We are excited to report that our work is coming to completion, and we hope to see the competencies in front of the ALGBTIC Board for approval in the next few months.

The goal of this set of competencies was to develop a series of best practice standards and aspirational goals to use in professional counseling practice, research and training with LGBQIQA clients. Using the eight domains of the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational programs, current theoretical and empirical literature on counseling with LGBQQ individuals, members of the team constructed core areas for competencies in the various domains, received feedback from the team as a whole, and then used that feedback to construct competencies that addressed various facets of these core areas. The entire team processed each domain individually and feedback was processed by all members of the team. For two new areas added to this set of competencies, Intersex and Ally, the team sought to create separate sections to address the differing needs of these populations. Each area was similarly reviewed by all members of the taskforce.

Currently, the competencies are undergoing outside review by professionals in the field who have expertise with issues pertaining to LGBQIQA individuals.  Once this is complete, the taskforce will integrate the feedback received into the competencies, and it will then go to the ALGBTIC board for approval.  Once approved, this set of competencies will replace the Competencies for Counseling Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) Clients that is currently available on the ALGBTIC Website.  The taskforce has utilized the Competencies for Counseling Transgender Clients as a model for our work, and we are excited to add the level of depth found in those competencies in the set we are developing.  It is our belief that this work is ever-evolving, and it is important to continue to review and update these competencies periodically in order to maintain best practices in working with this population.  We are excited to see how these competencies will aid practitioners in evolving their work and understanding of working with LGBQIQA Clients.

Amney Harper, Ph.D.
Association of LGBT Issues in Counseling President

 

ALGBTIC Log In