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LGBTQ+ Affirming Care

by Eleanor Hearnly

CTS Student Council Representative, MACMHC Student, CMHC Intern


Over the past few months, even years, of news cycles and legislative sessions the LGBTQ+ community has felt deepening worry, sadness, anger, and alienation. Morals and ethics aside, the effects of the current climate have a very real social, mental, and emotional impact on very real people.

Queer and Transgender humans are being told they are not accepted in schools, in churches, in doctor’s offices, in public spaces, and beyond. Young people are being denied recreation, socialization, education, and health care. This is all because of the power behind the pronouns we use, the clothing we choose, and the people we love. This power is scary to those who do not believe the LQBTQ+ community is real, moral, or valuable, but the LGBTQ+ community are the ones left in fear of being left behind, becoming illegal, or facing threat of violence.

The impact of this climate on mental health is very real in the room for clinicians and clients. Many LGBTQ+ persons delay receiving mental health and medical care for fear of discrimination. I have sat with clients who are experiencing real grief and fear because of legislation. I have sat with clients whose parents will not respect their authentic expressions and identities. I have sat with clients whose medical doctors told them they were too depressed to go on hormones when the repression of their identity is a key source of their mental health struggle. I know many others have sat with clients in the same situations, guiding them through with compassion, hope, and acceptance.

The question remains: “What if I believe it is sinful to be part of this community?” and my response is “What does your Christ say?” Though I am from a different religious foundation than many of my peers, I do value the kindness and compassion that Yeshua showed to every person he encountered. He acted with radical acceptance toward everyone of differing nations, abilities, professions, and health statuses. He provided them all with the care they needed to walk with strength and love in the world. Not once did Yeshua turn away, close his eyes or ears, or restrict his healing touch because he did not believe they were holy or good enough for him. Why would we want to be any different?

We as clinicians must find capacity for empathy and radical acceptance in order to welcome everyone into the room. This does not mean we have to be the perfect fit for every LGBTQ+ client, but assuring they are welcome and cared for should be the bare minimum standard every day. If you are a licensed clinician who provides trans-inclusive care, please consider adding your name to The Gender Affirming Letter Access Project database and reaching out to GenderNexxus and Y’all For All to add to their community resources. If you are a license clinician who is LGBTQ+ competent and affirming, please reach out to Indy Pride and Indiana Youth Group so you might be a resource for the community. If you are in practicum or not yet licensed to practice, please share these resources with your clients and community. Together we can make the mental health community a more open, knowledgeable, and welcoming place for everyone to receive the care they need.