Tag Archives: LGBTQ

11/13 -Transgender Day of Remembrance 2018

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Please join us  for our Transgender Day of Remembrance Gathering on November 13th, 2018 from 5:00pm-7:00pm at San Mateo Public Library. Our program will begin with a candlelight procession and solidarity chants through downtown San Mateo at 5:00pm. Afterwards, we will return to the library to hear from community speakers (additional youth speakers not included on flyer), share resources and learn about actions we can all take to stand in solidarity against anti-transgender violence. As a few of our nation’s leaders consider redefining the meaning of gender, erasing the experiences of transgender folks, we must unite to raise awareness of anti-transgender violence and the lethal implications of defining gender strictly within a binary. Our collective resistance is one more step towards wellness and healing for us all.

This event is brought to the community by the PRIDE Initiative, the LGBTQ Commission , The San Mateo County Pride Center, and BHRS Office of Diversity and Equity.

Written by Annette Pakhchian, LGBTQ+ Community Outreach 

What’s Happening in SMC’s LGBTQ+ Community?

PRIDE Center on Spirit Day 2017

Annette photographed second from the right on Spirit Day 10/19/17

As a queer person living in San Mateo County, the monthly Pride Initiative meetings are a haven for me to feel connected to local LGBTQ+ community members. Nothing beats being around a table of beautifully unique and bold community members to talk about the numerous efforts we’re working on to strengthen the sense of LGBTQ+ community in San Mateo County.

 

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PRIDE Initiative, 2011

Founded in 2007, the Pride Initiative is a health equity initiative that was created by the Office of Diversity and Equity in recognition that LGBTQ+ folks are often met with culturally inappropriate care and a lack of knowledge by service providers in health settings. Since 2007, the Pride Initiative has met on a monthly basis to organize community-based events, create trainings for service providers and advocate as a community for more LGBTQ+ services within county and community settings.

One such example is sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data collection that will be rolled out this year across BHRS as well as the whole health system; collecting this data will help reduce health disparities experienced by LGBTQ+ folks by normalizing conversations about these aspects of our identities that have a direct impact on our health. Pride Initiative members participated in not only advocating for this, they also contributed to the curriculum that was created to train BHRS staff on how to appropriately serve LGBTQ+ clients and ask SOGI questions with cultural humility.

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Overcoming Violence against Trans Community

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Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender activist and columnist for the Bay Area Reporter, to recognize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester on November 28, 1998 in Allston, Massachusetts. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, Rita’s murder exposed the lack of media coverage and particularly, culturally sensitive and respectful media coverage that takes place when transgender members of our community lose their lives to violent hate crimes. The communal anger and grief that was experienced led to a candlelight vigil that was attended by 250 participants.  Eighteen years later, Transgender Day of Remembrance events occur on a national and international basis on November 20th each year, and often include a candlelight procession or vigil within the program.

On November 16th, 2017, San Mateo County Pride Center held San Mateo County’s second annual Transgender Day of Remembrance event. Transgender Day of Remembrance serves multiple purposes– this is a day for folks to come together and publicly mourn the lives of transgender siblings whose lives have been taken from us in brutal acts of violence and hatred, and a day for us to find strength within each other to mobilize and combat the violence our transgender community disproportionally faces. Transgender Day of Remembrance in San Mateo County included community speakers Alyss Swanson, Lexi Shimmers and Dr. Jei Africa, along with altars commemorating the lives of transgender siblings lost in 2016 and 2017, followed by a silent candlelight procession down El Camino Real to Central Park in San Mateo. During the procession, 25 participants traded their candles for signs that were each hand-painted by community members the afternoon prior with the names and ages of the lives we’ve lost in 2017. You can view the memorial we created for 2017 in the slideshow on this blog.

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Transgender Day of Remembrance: Join Us In Commemorating Trans Lives Lost To Violence

You are invited to join us for Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual event that aims to commemorate our transgender community members that have lost their lives due to brutal and unconscionable anti-transgender violence.TransgenderDayRememberance2017_DF-1

This event aims to raise public awareness of violence that transgender people face that often goes underreported or incorrectly reported in the news media, with those who are mentioned often misgendered or “deadnamed,” a term used to describe when a transgender person is referred to the name they were given at birth and no longer use. Transgender Day of Remembrance allows us to come together and publicly mourn our transgender siblings as well as find strength within each other as we mobilize to combat anti-transgender violence.

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Out Run Special Screening Inspires LGBTQ+ Advocacy

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Out Run Directors S. Leo Chiang and Johnny Symons

On the evening of Friday, September 8th, 2017, the San Mateo County Pride Center was abuzz with over 60 community members and allies arriving for a special screening and Directors’ Q&A of the highly acclaimed documentary Out Run.

Directed by S. Leo Chiang and Johnny Symons (photographed right), Out Run follows the campaign trail of three members of the world’s only LGBT political party, Ladlad, as they aim to earn seats in the Philippine Congress. The film particularly highlights Bemz Benedito, a fierce community advocate who, along with her fellow queer political organizers, campaigns widely across the Philippines with dreams of being the first transgender woman to represent in Congress. Bemz and her Ladlad visionaries went from small-town hair salons to regional beauty pageants to advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ community across The Philippines and to mobilize working-class LGBTQ folks in the fight against their main opponent, a homophobic evangelical preacher. Read more

Pride Center’s Suicide Prevention Month Events

pridecenterThe risk of suicide is high among the LGBTQ+ community. For example, the rate of suicide attempts is 4 times greater for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth and 2 times greater for questioning youth than that of straight youth.

San Mateo County Pride Center is here to help the LGBTQ+ individuals with clinical and community resources. #BeThe1To attend or share the Suicide Prevention Month events happening at the Pride Center.   #SMCPrevention

If you know a LGBTQ+ youth facing a mental health crisis, call The Trevor Project (1-866-488-7386), Trans Lifeline (1-877-565-8860) or Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).
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Broadway by the Bay Opens the Dialogue About Mental Illness

Broadway by the Bay will be presenting NEXT TO NORMAL a contemporary musical addressing several mental health issues such as ethics in modern psychiatry, mental illness, grief and lose, drug abuse, and the power of love and sheds light on a few subject matters still considered taboo in many communities and allows the opportunity to open the conversation about mental illness and its impact on families.

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NEXT TO NORMAL is a brave and breathtaking musical that the New York Times calls “… a feel everything musical.” The contemporary musical follows the journey of the Goodman family. While on the surface, suburban parents Dan and Diana, and their children Natalie and Gabi appear a “perfect loving family”, beneath the surface shows how far two parents will go to keep themselves sane and their family’s world intact.

NEXT TO NORMAL is running August 11 – 27, 2017 at the historic Fox Theatre in Redwood City.  For more information visit BroadwayBytheBay.org or check out the flyer.

 

 

 

The Office of Diversity and Equity Receives a Special Recognition

On Friday, October 21st the San Mateo County Office of Diversity and Equity (ODE) received a special recognition from Outlet, a program of the Adolescent Counseling Services, for the work that ODE is engaged in creating health equity for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQQ+) community in the peninsula area.

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“My team and I together with our partners and youth leaders work tirelessly and creatively to bring discussions of inequities, disparities and injustice front and center in our work,” said Dr. Jei Africa, Director of ODE.

Outlet’s Annual Out to Eat Celebration and fundraiser event included a fun and inspiring program with renowned speakers and advocates such as Sid Espinosa, former Mayor of Palo Alto, who after a string of teen suicides in the city became increasingly focused on the city’s youth programs and teen mental health issues and Michelle Honda-Phillips, the mother of a 10-year-old transgender daughter and 8- and 11-year-old cisgender sons, who focuses much of her time advocating for transgender and gender non-conforming youth.

A part of the evening celebration was dedicated to recognizing the achievements of two organizations, the San Mateo County’s Office of Diversity and Equity and Santa Clara County’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs.  “The past couple of years have brought great strides setting a strong foundation to help build upon for more awareness, effective and sensitive services, and an overall expectation of equity on all fronts for the San Mateo LGBTQ+ community. It is an honor to work with and be a part of this movement with you!” said Anthony Ross, Outlet Program Director.

Dr. Africa shared about ODE’s work, through the PRIDE initiative, focused on addressing the barriers LGBTQ communities face with seeking behavioral health care services including, sponsoring the first ever PRIDE celebration in San Mateo County in 2013 and the near future launch of the LGBTQ Coordinated Services Center, the first of its kind in California, a one-stop-shop for a variety of resources and supports for LGBTQ families and individuals… “The Center has been a dream for many people, like me, who felt very invisible growing up. The goal of the Center is not only to provide a safe space but to acknowledge that we exist, we are important and we are loved,” said Dr. Jei Africa.

To learn more about the work of ODE and the PRIDE initiative visit, www.smchealth.org/ODE.

Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Innovation Project Plans Approved!

On July 28th, we presented three innovative project plans to the State of California, Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC). All three projects were approved and will now move forward to implementation.   Thank you to those that provided testimony at the MSOAC meeting and shared their stories and experiences in support of these projects.  A few highlights on each project are included below.

  • The Health Ambassador Program for Youth (HAP-Y), a project that will adapt, pilot and evaluate a psycho-educational process (based on an adult Health Ambassador Program) to train youth ages 16-25 as ambassadors for mental health awareness, stigma reduction and in turn increase access to mental health services.  The project will be administered by StarVista, who’s role includes supporting the youth post ymhfa-1.jpggraduation with opportunities to engage in community presentations, outreach, advisory roles, etc.
    • Special thank you to Yolanda Ramirez, current Health Ambassador and Family Partner with BHRS for her sharing her personal and heart-felt testimony in support of at-risk youth and to Narges Zohoury Dillon, Program Director at StarVista for sharing her professional experience with youth advocates and youth in crisis, in support of HAP-Y.
  • The LGBTQ Behavioral Health Coordinated Services Center (The Center) will provide a coordinated approach across mental health treatment, recovery and  supports forLGBTQ high risk LGBTQ communities and include the collaboration of multiple agencies. The Center will include a space where groups, events and other activities will be held and feature the coordination of three components; 1) a social and community component; 2) a clinical component; and 3) a resource component.
    • Thank you to Anthony Ross, Outlet Director for Adolescent Counseling Services for sharing his heart-felt personal and professional testimony in support of transgender and gender non conforming and high risk individuals.
  • The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) within an Adult Service System will adapt, pilot and evaluate the application of the NMT approach (primarily used with youth) to an adult population, within the BHRS Adult System of Care. NMT locates the neurobiological reason for an individual’s behavioral problems and, if appropriate, provides a holistic approach integrated with multiple forms of targeted therapies that may include music, dance, yoga, drumming, therapeutic massage, etc.

To learn more about these projects, final Project Briefs are available on the MHSA website, www.smchealth.org/bhrs/mhsa.