The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is teaming up with a group of Master of Social Work students at Salem State University to launch a research study determining if transgender adults have access to culturally competent mental health clinicians and services in Massachusetts. The research team, led by longtime transgender activist and current social work student Laurie Auffant, includes Sarah Grandmaison, Kristine Lassiter, and Rachel Sherwin.
The survey is open to any adult eighteen years of age and older who resides in Massachusetts and identifies as transgender or gender variant. Data will be collected through March 5, and the research team will provide a report to Salem State University and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition in early May 2012. Online access to the survey is available here. To receive a paper copy of the survey, please write to the research team at teamawesomeSSU@gmail.com.
Gunner Scott, Executive Director of MTPC, affirmed his support of the study, stating, “Transgender people need access to mental health providers close to home; we often hear that our community members who live outside the Boston area often need to travel an hour or more to find a compassionate clinician who understands the community and can provide treatment. This study will document what is working well and where the gaps are in mental health services in Massachusetts. We need everyone to participate to get an accurate measure to determine the service gaps.”
Survey goals outlined by Auffant include documenting whether transgender adults have access to culturally competent mental health clinicians and services in Massachusetts; documenting geographic differences of mental health clinicians and services by county; documenting differences in service delivery by type of mental health clinician; documenting differences based on gender identity, racial identity, economic resources, transportation, and age of participant; and documenting if transgender adults are treated respectfully or have ever experienced hostility or been denied access to mental health services during mental health appointments.
“We know that barriers to accessing mental health services exist for transgender adults and we hope to use the results of this survey to advocate for additional education for students planning to work in the field of mental health, so that they will be prepared to be culturally competent and sensitive mental health clinicians in relationship to the transgender community,” stated Auffant.
Auffant and the research team understand the importance of remaining accountable to the transgender community throughout the duration of the research. “This study is being conducted by researchers who understand our community,” Scott said. “Laurie testified before the Cambridge City Council to get the transgender non-discrimination City ordinance passed; she helped organize the first Transgender Day of Remembrance in Boston and spoke at many of them over the years; she marched with us for LGBT Pride for thirty years; and she lobbied and testified at the State House to get the Transgender Civil Rights bill passed. Laurie is a compassionate educator, activist, social worker, and researcher.”
For more information, please visit masstpc.org.