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Support Groups After the Pandemic


Guest Lynnie

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Guest Lynnie

Thanks to COVID-19, many of our support groups have necessarily gone dormant. We also might be thinking about how support groups should work under new conditions, for in some respects, we'd have to ask what transfolk need in a world after the pandemic, or even as the pandemic may tiresomely continue to ravage the world.

 

Support groups in recent years appear to have declined. Some have become so centered upon online social media that, when it comes to making actual friends through physical meetings, not much happens at all. I've seen some who have lost corporation status and some that can't even keep their officers let alone the greater part of their members.

 

We've traditionally looked to support groups to facilitate 3 aspects:

 

  • Social events (at a restaurant, club, or some other venue)
  • Education (training for personal betterment, deportment, transition, and citizenship)
  • Outreach (anything from training for public speaking to tabling to political activism)

 

But today, social ties are as easily broken as a block on a social media site when someone takes offense. Today's support groups often take the form of discussion groups run by clinicians or people pretending to be clinicians. They often exist to promote somebody's clinical practice, not like what people might remember from Tri-Ess, Renaissance, Emerald City, or Transgender San Francisco in past decades. They're certainly far from the social ties developed at venues like the Queen Mary in Studio City before it closed in 2002. Commitments are typically a lot less than what they used to be. Those who do show an interest in commitment may encounter a lot of push-back from others who don't want that level of commitment.

 

But now that we're pretty dormant, it's time to think, I think.

 

  1. What needs to you see for transpeople today that support groups need to address and help? Do you see new needs arising?
  2. What can we all do now to make support structures more tightly knit?
  3. Do support groups really help you in your networking with others, or is there something else that works better for you?
  4. Do support groups help you with projects of your own you may have undertaken for the community?

 

I'd like to see your ideas, especially as they may apply to the hinterlands where they're most needed more than the central cities.

 

 

 

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  • Admin

In one respect, I think the pandemic will result in a permanent increase in the use of remote services to everyone, including trans folk.  I'm on the board of a local non-profit therapy center specializing in therapy and support of the trans community.  We've closed the doors (at least temporarily) to our brick and mortar offices, and all the therapists are doing video (Zoom and Skype) sessions.

 

Such changes will be especially helpful for those in rural areas which can be a long  distance from major cities.  One on one sessions are easily adapted, but It's unknown how well it will work for group sessions.  I haven't heard from our own therapists if they're doing remote group sessions and if so, how well they're working.

 

I've done both individual and group sessions in the past, and found the former much better than the latter.  The particular group I was in just didn't have the right mix of folks that benefited me, so I left it after 8 months.

 

I think IRL support groups are going to fade from importance as the need for letters of recommendation decrease, and also because younger trans people don't seem to think they need it much.  I know that's a generalization, but that's what I've seen in my conversations with younger members here.

 

Thanks for this topic, Lynnie.  I hope you get some good responses.

 

Carolyn

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I'd like to have support groups that don't discuss politics (or religion). I recently went to a remote "support" group where the whole meeting was an intense political discussion. I couldn't stand it and had to leave early. The good thing about a remote meeting is I can leave discreetly without anyone asking why I'm leaving.

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The prospective clients for Trans support meeting has changed, I am on the Board of Directors of a local LGBTQ Center.  We actually sponsor 4 support groups that at the minute ate online events, but going very well, and the participants are eager to get back to IP meetings.  Two of the groups are exclusively the under 40, but above 18 crowd and are for the most part non binary people who express themselves that way.  I am welcome in the group and with them I too use a more non-binary POV, but to them I am an old lady. They do have social goals although the rules say no politics per se.  The groups are diverse with mostly Black, Asian, and Latinx which is my community.  One other group is the older folks which are even too old for me although most are several years younger and are CD generally in their thinking.  They are the group suffering the most and getting the least out of online since they cannot go out, even to Triess type meetings.  They will do better as a meet up.  The fourth group is the traditional Binary Trans in their 40's & 50' who will and are living full time but are largely No Op.  I think they too will be doing better for in person contact.  It will be different and not the old days for sure.  I sure sloughed off the make up when the old Queen Mary closed myself.

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25 minutes ago, Suzanne1 said:

 

Forgive my ignorance, but I'm just a semi-educated, rural/bucolic type----What's an IRL (or IRL support group)??

 

However, in terms of face-face sessions (individual &/or group), I suspect that even when things re-normalize sessions via electronic media will become the norm, w/ the mentioned "fade" out.  Electronic sessions are just too convenient to both therapists & clients.  I have some misgivings though, lots of meta-communication gets lost when sessions are no longer face-face.

IRL means in real life

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