At BRAINS, we are constantly working to make our facility more accessible for everyone. It is our goal to make our clinic welcoming and inclusive, this includes our LGBTQ clients and our transgender clients. It is of utmost importance that everyone who comes in feels safe and respected. To this end, we have made changes in our intake paperwork, and have taken considerations for our trans patients in a clinical setting. Continue reading to learn more about the “pros” of pronouns and how BRAINS is respecting transgender and nonbinary clients.
Written by Rachel Bowlin
Medical Records Specialist, BRAINS
In a recent study, it was found that about 1 in every 250 adults identifies as transgender in the United States, and that this number is estimated to grow (Meerijk & Sevelius, 2017). Not only that, this statistic does not include individuals who may identify as nonbinary or other iterations of gender non-conforming. Meerijk and Sevelius (2017) theorized that the number of transgender people may not actually be increasing; what is increasing is the number of people who feel safe enough to identify as trans. With celebrities like Laverne Cox and Caitlin Jenner in the spotlight, the general public are becoming more aware and more accepting of transgender individuals. Knowing this, it’s important that we support these individuals or risk alienating a large percentage of the population.
Support can come in many ways, and doesn’t have to be an arduous process. Here at BRAINS, we have already made changes to our intake paperwork to include options for pronoun choice and gender identity. This may seem like a small clerical change, but the comfort and security a trans or nonbinary person could feel when seeing this systematic validation of their identity is limitless.
Our providers also take a supportive approach when it comes to clients of various gender identities. Dr. Jessi Manning stated that, while working with transgender clients can present some unique challenges, there aren’t many differences when it comes to the care of a patient. Dr. Manning said that she approaches each patient with respect, dignity, and meets them where they are (personal communication, July 19, 2018). Using a patient’s chosen name because they are transgender is no different than using a patient’s nickname or middle name, if that is what they go by.
This tracks with current clinical and therapeutic methodologies. According to Deo (2016), transgender teens who were given support and acceptance demonstrated a much lower rate of anxiety and depression—about the same amount that a cis-gender teen might experience. Incredibly, it seems that simply allowing a teenager to be themselves has significant positive impact on their mental health and well-being. This is extremely important considering that transgender youth are at a much higher risk of these challenges, with suicide rates in transgender teens triple the rate of those in gender-conforming youth (Screiber, 2017).
Gender non-conformity is on the rise, and instead of shying away, we need to embrace this change; clinically, societally, and individually. BRAINS is actively working to make our space a safe one for everyone who walks through our doors. If you are a parent with gender non-conforming child, or you yourself are questioning or are trans, please know that we are here for you. Other excellent resources in Grand Rapids are the Grand Rapids Pride Center and the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center through Grand Valley State University.
Meerijk, E., & Sevelius, J. (2017). Transgender Population Size in the United States: a Meta-Regression of
Population-Based Probability Samples. American Journal of Public Health, 107(2), e1-e8. doi:
Deo, P. (2016, February 28). With Support, Transgender Kids Skip the Anxiety: Study. NBCNews.
Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/support-transgender-kids-skip-
Screiber, K. (2017, October 12). Why Are Suicide Rates Higher Among LGBTQ Youth?. Retrieved from