The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is collaborating with a team of Master of Social Work students from Salem State University to conduct a research study to determine if transgender adults have access to culturally competent mental health clinicians and services in Massachusetts. Led by Laurie Auffant, a long time transgender activist and now social work student, the research team includes Sarah Grandmaison, Kristine Lassiter, and Rachel Sherwin.
The survey is open to any adult eighteen years old and above, residing in Massachusetts, who identifies as transgender or gender variant. The survey can be accessed online: www.surveymonkey.com/s/masstransmentalhealthsurvey
The survey was first launched on January 20th in Peabody, Massachusetts at the First Event conference, organized by Tiffany Club of New England. Tiffany Club of New England agreed to collaborate in the project by promoting data collection at the event.
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.”
Some of the goals of the survey outlined by Auffant outlines the goals 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 Laurie Auffant.
Auffant understands the need to remain accountable to the transgender community as a long time activist. Scott stated, “This study is being conducted by researchers who understand our community. 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.”
The research team is pleased with the initial response of the community collecting over 100 surveys at First Event Conference this past weekend. Sarah Grandmaison echoed her team’s enthusiasm for the project stating, “It is my hope that our research study will begin revealing the experiences transgender people have in mental health settings, and hopefully shape the future for these exceptional individuals.”
The research team will be collecting data through March 5, 2012 and will provide a report to Salem State University and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition in early May 2012. The survey is available online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/masstransmentalhealthsurvey or to receive copies in paper format write to the research team at: TeamawesomeSSU@gmail.com.