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Coleman-Chair-BP-7.jpgMedical advances, improved access to care, prevention initiatives, and our nation's aspiration of an AIDS-free generation are all good signs, but as a culture we will need to shift our perspective to stop the spread of HIV.

Over the last 30 years, where have we failed? We know that HIV is still mostly spread by sexual behavior. Yet, the disease is rather easily preventable through the use of condoms. Condoms are reasonably inexpensive, potentially readily available, easy to use, and highly effective in preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (and unintended pregnancy). What a bargain! So, why are they not used more?

Behavioral HIV prevention strategies and interventions have tried to get people to reduce risky sexual behavior and promote condom use. While reasonably effective, there needs to be continuous implementation of these interventions, and they are costly. Investment in prevention strategies has always been difficult.

New strategies are overdue. In the United States, we continue to experience 50,000 new infections a year, with young people aged 13-29 accounting for 39% of all new HIV infections.* And, there are serious health disparities.  People of color, youth, and sexual minorities are much more likely to become infected than other groups. While 60% of new infections around the world are found in gay and bisexual men, only 2% of the global prevention budget is directed at this group. Also, transgender individuals are an overlooked population at major risk for HIV, due in large part to continued stigma and discrimination. This disparity in funding efforts represents the institutionalized stigmatization, heterosexism, and homophobia that exist in our cultures as well as in our public health systems. If we do not attend to this population as well as other marginalized populations such as sex workers and drug users, we will fail in our efforts to stop the spread of infections.

A fundamental problem remains. We remain a sexually dysfunctional culture. We live in a culture that is still uncomfortable talking about sex and sexuality in a mature and honest fashion. We continue to debate and hold back on providing comprehensive sexuality education. It is very clear that what distinguishes the United States from other developed countries in sexual health indicators is the existence of (or lack thereof) early and sustained comprehensive sexuality education. When kids are educated early they grow up to be more comfortable with talking about sexuality, more likely to be sexually responsible, and have lower rates of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies. They contribute to a cultural climate that is sexually healthy. That climate then insists on comprehensive sexuality education and thereby creates a cycle of healthiness. In the United States, we are still caught up in a negative and unhealthy vicious cycle. The goal of the Joycelyn Elders Chair in Sexual Health Education is to reverse this negative cycle.

As the current Chair in Sexual Health, I continue to push a sexual health agenda in HIV prevention. I believe in the need for a broad sexual health approach to stem the tide of the HIV epidemic. I envision an approach that goes beyond venereology and on an individual level

• emphasizes a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual expression throughout the lifespan;

• acknowledges sexuality as a basic and fundamental aspect of our humanness and that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is natural and desirable;

• combats sexual coercion, shame, discrimination, and violence;

• promotes positive sexual identity and esteem;

• encourages honest communication and trust between partners;

• supports the possibility of having pleasurable, fulfilling, and satisfying sexual experiences;

• insists that individuals take responsibility of the consequences of their sexual choices and their impact on others; and

• optimizes reproductive capacity and choice


At the community level, it is achieved through

• access to developmentally appropriate, comprehensive, and scientifically accurate sexuality education;

• clinical and preventative sexual health services; and

• respect for individual differences and diversity and a lack of societal prejudice, stigma, and discrimination.

As the Chair in Sexual Health, I will continue to work with our faculty at the Program in Human Sexuality and with partners around the world to promote a sexually healthier culture - not only to address the sexual problems in the world -- but to advance the opportunity for everyone to lead sexually healthier lives which are pleasurable and satisfying.

Eli Coleman, PhD
Professor and Director
Chair in Sexual Health


New HIV Infections in the United States by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Letter from the Chair in Sexual Health

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Coleman-Chair-BP-7.jpgFirst of all, I have to say that I am grieving the loss of one our pioneering faculty members - Mary Briggs who you will read about in this newsletter. She was an amazing woman and I was fortunate enough to receive some training from here when I was an intern at PHS some 36 years ago!

I am writing this from Mexico where I have started a 6-month sabbatical. The purpose of this sabbatical is to study gender variance which is widespread throughout the world but cultures place different values upon gender identities and cross-gender behavior. In most parts of the world, gender variant identifies and behavioral expressions of those identities are highly stigmatized - although the struggle for acceptance is growing around the world. However, there are cultures where variations in gender identities are much more tolerated, embedded into the normative and historical societal structure of gender, and sometimes a revered phenomenon.

I have started my work here in Mexico in a small indigenous community in Juchitan, Oaxaca. Fifteen years ago, I began my work on this subject, and I have been back to Juchitan many times. From here I will be going to French Polynesia, Thailand, and Burma. These societies (or parts thereof) have a unique and less stigmatized view of gender variance and cross-gender behavior. I will also be visiting Micronesia (Marshall Islands) and Melanesia (Fiji) which have interesting phenomenon but not as positive a situation - but are useful as contrast. I have been studying these societies for many years in my spare time, and I am back to revisit and finalize my observations and conclusions. I am accompanied by Mariette Pathy Allen who will be accenting the data with a photographic study.

I am just concluding my field research with the muxes of Juchitan. Juchitan is a small indigenous community (Zapotec) in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. I have been able to observe the changes and evolution of the culture and the individual lives of many of the muxes. In Juchitan, muxes are a broad spectrum of gender non-conforming males - which would span our western constructs of gay, cross-dresser, transgender, and transsexual. The vast majority of them have sex with other men - and they are mostly distinctively sexually attracted to 'straight men' or 'bisexual men' known as mayates. Some muxes are heterosexually married and have children - their status as muxe is well recognized by the wife and society. A muxe is identified as such from an early age - and because of the relatively small community is known by everyone as muxe. Most parents in Juchitan would simply understand this as a fate of nature as the Zapotec people are fairly agnostic.

While it is not something that is necessarily desired and many fathers have negative reactions to their son's cross-gender behavior, most muxes become recognized as an asset to the family. Muxes take on a social role of caretakers of the parents and family members (they do this from a very young age). They are traditionally bound to live with the family and living in long-term relationship with another person is not really acceptable (except it seems for the ones who marry a woman and raise their own family). There have been some recent stories of two muxes living together - which is a very new and rare phenomenon.

The muxes are a very interesting phenomenon - and one which you cannot find even in other parts of the state of Oaxaca - never mind Mexico. They have long held a unique status within society, recognized and respected because of their role within the family, and they often inherit family fortune. I would say that they gain acceptance through hard work and good deeds - but at least that option is afforded them. As such, many hold positions of respect and power. The muxes organized themselves as a "gay rights organization in the 1970s - becoming Mexico's earliest gay rights organization. They now wield considerable political power.

It is hard to generalize about muxes - as this is a phenomenon quite complex and dynamically changing. There has been a blending of modern constructs of "gay" and "trans." They defy fitting into either construct and may best be understood in the western constructs of "queer."

The situation in Juchitan is extremely unique and exists as a stark contrast to other indigenous communities or other rural areas in Mexico. Muxes defy simple definition as it is a unique gender role within society which is expressed in a variety of ways - which are, to varying degrees, accepted. Many hold on to the traditional cultural belief that there is a place for sexual and gender diversity in a community.

It is an illustration of a community where sexual and gender diversity can coexist and that diversity can be celebrated. It is not paradise as our binary way of thinking of gender and sexual orientation continues to cause pressure to conform or create prejudice for those that don't fit the binary. And the struggle to maintain the traditions and create even more acceptance continues. But, it is an interesting challenge to other societies to think about how everyone can contribute to society capitalizing on their uniqueness and differentness. And, all can be enriched by those who do not conform to gender expectations. I do believe that celebration of sexual and gender diversity is essential to everyone's sexual health.


Faculty Profile: Jamie Feldman, MD, PhD

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Jamie-Feldman-BP.jpgAssociate professor Jamie Feldman, MD, PhD, is a family physician passionate about sexual medicine research, education, and clinical care.

While Feldman was working on her medical degree at University of Illinois, Urbana, she also completed a PhD in anthropology. In 1996, after a family medicine residency at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL, she joined the faculty at the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota. Initially she worked as a family physician and trained residents in HIV/AIDS clinical care. In 1998, when the HIV/AIDS residency training program was eliminated, Feldman joined the faculty at the Program in Human Sexuality, replacing retiring physician Leon Nesvacil, MD. Feldman's interest in research, HIV, sexuality, and culture has made her a great fit for PHS. "Family physicians are uniquely qualified to address sexual health. They are trained in the whole person, across all ages and genders," said PHS director Eli Coleman, PhD,

Feldman's early research was in the area of HIV/AIDS.1 When she started at PHS she realized the lack of transgender-specific research and level-1 evidence. Since then, Feldman has been involved in studies focused on transgender health from HIV/AIDS prevention to the effects of hormone therapy. She has given numerous international presentations and published many scientific articles, book chapters, and guidelines based on her research in the areas of sexual functioning and transgender health. In addition to her recent publications2, Feldman is currently working on updating guidelines for The Fenway Institute for physicians on primary care of transgender patients and guidelines for physicians in British Columbia on the physical aspects of transgender endocrine therapy. Since 2001, Feldman has served as the chair for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health's Transgender Medicine and Research Committee. As she looks to the future, she is hopeful that the National Institutes of Health and other grant funding organizations will respond to the Institutes of Medicine report, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People (2011), by funding research in transgender health beyond the rubric of HIV.

Feldman is currently working with colleagues at PHS to build a framework for clinical research in the area of transgender health care. Feldman's current research includes looking at feminizing hormone therapy in patients over age 50; a retrospective, multicenter study on the long-term health of transgender individuals receiving hormone-therapy; and a study of immunological factors and the risk of Vulvodynia (based in U of M Epidemiology).

Feldman is involved in every aspect of education at PHS. She believes that, "Caring for a patient's whole health means that family physicians should be comfortable with sexuality." On most clinical days she is shadowed by medical students or residents from family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, or other medical schools. She is the director of the sexual medicine course required for family medicine residents. Along with her colleagues, she is an instructor for the human sexuality course for first-year medical students and gives didactics for PHS postdoctoral fellows.

At the PHS clinic, the Center for Sexual Health, Feldman sees patients for all aspects of sexual medicine including sexual functioning concerns, women's sexual health, and transgender-specific care. In addition to her time at PHS, she see patients for two half days at the Women's Health Specialists Clinic at University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview.

A native of Chicago, Feldman lives in Saint Paul with her husband, sci-fi /fantasy writer Doug Hulick, and their two sons. Her hobby is historical rapier combat.

1. Feldman, J.L. (1995). Plague doctors: Responding to the AIDS Epidemic in France and America. Westport, Connecticut, Bergin and Garvey.

2. Recent publications

Feldman, J., & Spencer, K. (2013). Gender dysphoria in a 39-year-old man. Canadian Medical Association Journal. Published online ahead of print, October 7, 2013. doi:10.1503/cmaj.130450

Eckman, P.M., Dhungel, V., Mandras, S., Brisco, M.A., Emani, S., Duval, S., Lindenfeld, J., Sulemanjee, N., Sokos, G.G., Feldman, J. (2013). Sexual Function After Left Ventricular Assist Device. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 61(19), 2021-2022. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2013.02.022

Deutsch, M., Feldman, J. (2013). Updated recommendations from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care. Editorial in American Family Physician, 87(2):89-93.

Coleman, E., Bockting, W., Botzer, M., Cohen-Kettenis, P., DeCuypere, G., Feldman, J., Fraser, L., Green, J., Knudson, G., Meyer, W., Monstrey, S., & the WPATH Standards of Care Revision Committee. (2012). Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People, 7th Version. International Journal of Transgenderism. 13(4), 165-232.

Feldman, J.L., Safer, J. (2009) Hormone therapy in adults: suggested revisions to the sixth version of the Standards of Care. International Journal of Transgenderism (11)3:146-182
Eyler, A.E. and Feldman, J.L. (2008). "Primary Care of the Transsexual Male." In Clinical Men's Health: Evidence in Practice. Heidelbaugh, J. (ed.) Atlanta, GA: Elsevier

Feldman, J.L. (2008). "Medical management of transgender patients." In The Fenway Guide to Enhancing Healthcare in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Communities, Makadon, H., Mayer, K., Potter, J., Goldhammer, H. (eds.), Philadelphia, PA, American College of Physicians.

Feldman, J.L. (2007). "Preventive Care of the Transgendered Patient: An Evidence Based Approach." In Principles of Transgendered Medicine and Surgery. Ettner, R., Eyler, A.E., Monstrey, S. (eds.) Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press.

Ross, M.W., Rosser, B.R., McCurdy, S., Feldman, J.L. (2007) The advantages and limitations of seeking sex online: A comparison of reasons given for online and offline sexual liaisons by Men who have Sex with Men. Journal of Sex Research. 44(1):59-71

Feldman, J.L., Goldberg, J. (2006). Transgender Primary Medical Care: Suggested Guidelines for Clinicians in British Columbia. Vancouver, British Columbia: Vancouver Coastal Health, Transcend Transgender Support & Education Society, and the Canadian Rainbow Health Coalition.



Iantaffi-&-Spencer-BP.jpgThe theme of the 2013 Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition's Trans Health and Wellness Conference was "A Bridge to Access: Providers and Community Together."

The conference held October 12 - 13, 2013, featured keynote speakers Jamison Green, PhD, president-elect for the World Professional Association for Transgender Health; Victoria Kolakowski, the first openly transgender person to be elected as a trial court judge in the United States; and Andrea Jenkins, writer and multimedia visual and performance artist.

Alex Iantaffi, PhD, presented two workshops "Addressing internalized and systemic transphobia when working therapeutically with trans* and gender non-conforming youth and their families," and with Lauren Beach, JD, he presented, "Exploring the intersections between bisexual and transgender identities and organizing."

Katie Spencer, PhD, joined Carrie Link, MD, from Smiley's Family Medicine Clinic at an exhibit table to share with conference attendees transgender-specific care options through the University of Minnesota clinics.



Iantaffi-&-Gonzalez-BP.jpgAlex Iantaffi, PhD, and Cesar Gonzalez, PhD, will conduct a needs assessment with the transgender community focused on testing rates, medication adherence, and knowledge and acceptability of pre-exposure prophylaxis with transgender populations.

The one-year project was funded by the Developmental Center for AIDS Research (DCFAR) in the Academic Health Centre at the University of Minnesota. Iantaffi is the principal investigator and Gonzalez will serve as the co-investigator. Of the five DCFAR studies funded at the University, this is the only one that features a community based participatory research approach. The study will be completed in September 2014.


Free download of gender education materials

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Transformations-BP.jpgYou can now download the play script for Trans/formation: Addressing Gender Issues in School, resources, and an educational supplement designed by Katie Spencer, PhD, and Dianne Berg, PhD.

Spencer said, "We hope that these materials will be a practical tool to help school administrators, teachers, student groups, and parents to begin an open and honest dialogue about gender. Schools could customize these materials to launch a semester-long awareness campaign or to conduct an afternoon assembly. Ideally the play will spark an ongoing conversation."

PHS joined Exposed Brick Theatre to create the play which is based on the stories, experiences, and perspectives of transgender and gender non-conforming youth. The aims of the project are to validate transgender and gender non-conforming youth experiences through performance, to educate peers, parents, families, friends, and educators about the experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming youth, and to encourage dialogues around gender issues, advocacy, and ally support for adolescents.

The educational supplement offers ideas for using the script in a classroom setting including ideas for casting and directing, preparation of the school and audience, rehearsal process and cast support, and questions for an audience discussion. Additional Spencer and Berg offer secondary resource links to gender terminology, a book list, and research on the experiences of transgender students.


Faculty profile: Cesar Gonzalez, PhD

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Cesar-Gonzalez-13-BP.jpgCesar Gonzalez, PhD, is feeling inspired after an intensive two-week training on randomized clinical trials. The course will undoubtedly impact his research on the topics of gender dysphoria, severe mental illness, treatment engagement, and the application of integrative psychological treatments among vulnerable populations.
Cesar-Gonzalez-NIH-BP.jpgGonzalez was selected as a fellow for the National Institutes of Health's Thirteenth Annual Summer Institute on Randomized Behavioral Clinical Trials held in Warrentown, Virginia, July 14 - 26, 2013. The training focused on the planning, design, and execution of randomized clinical trials involving behavioral interventions. "The faculty and fellows at the Summer Institute made the experience so unique and memorable. Conducting randomized clinical trials on behavioral interventions allows us to advance practice and theory. My hope is to build on interventions that work to increase the well-being of disadvantaged and marginalized populations, such as transgender individuals."

Cesar Gonzalez, PhD, is a psychologist, researcher, and educator at the Program in Human Sexuality. Gonzalez completed his postdoctoral fellowship at PHS in 2010, and joined PHS as a clinical psychologist and researcher on the All Gender Health Online research project where he helped develop an interactive web-based intervention for sexual health. Since then he has been promoted to Research Associate and in 2012 to Assistant Professor (research-track).

In recent years Gonzalez has been recruited for several international consultations including assisting in the development and translation of the Spanish Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) for the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. He currently serves as a representative of the National Latina/o Psychological Association for the American Psychological Association's International Network on LGBTQ Issues in Psychology. In the past Gonzalez has served as a consultant to the Pan American Health Organization on promoting comprehensive healthcare to gay men and men who have sex with men in Latin American and the Caribbean.

Gonzalez is board certified in clinical psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology. He is currently receiving his Advanced Certification in Schema Therapy (by the International Society of Schema Therapy through the Cognitive Therapy Center of NY/NJ), an innovative and evidence-based approach for treating complex psychological conditions and personality disorders. Gonzalez received his BA in psychology from the University of Arizona and received his PhD in clinical psychology from Alliant International University, Los Angeles. His clinical training includes behavioral medicine, severe mental illness, child and family therapy, and the assessment of learning differences. He served as director of evaluation and research at Bienestar Human Services, Inc., a non-profit organization serving Latino, HIV-infected/affected, GLBT individuals, where he evaluated HIV prevention programs and conducted community research on HIV/AIDS. He continues his passion for non-profit work by serving on the board of directors of Family Tree Clinic in St. Paul, MN. Gonzalez is an editorial board member of the International Journal of Transgenderism and is a fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Psychology. He is recipient of National Institute of Health's Loan Repayment Program award. Gonzalez is bicultural, and is bilingual in English and Spanish.

Recent publications by Gonzalez include:

Gonzalez, C. A., Bockting, W.O., Beckman, L., & Durán, R. E. (2012). Agentic and communal personality traits: Their associations with depression and resilience among transgender women. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 67(9), 528-543. doi: 10.1007/s11199-012-0202-y

Willoughby, B.L.B., Hill, D.B., Gonzalez, C.A., Lacorazza, A., Macapagal, R.A., Barton, M.E., & Doty, N.D. (2011). Who Hates Gender Outlaws? A Multisite and Multinational Evaluation of the Genderism and Transphobia Scale. International Journal of Transgenderism, 12(4), 254-271. doi: :10.1080/15532739.2010.550821

Photo: National Institutes of Health's Summer Institute on Randomized Behavioral Clinical Trials



Coleman-India-crop2.jpgEli Coleman, PhD, joined a consultation meeting on stigma reduction, health care provider awareness, and knowledge enhancement on transgender issues in India. The Indo-US collaboration took place in Mumbai in June and was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Indian Council of Medical Research.

This consultation brought members of the hijras community together with physician and other health care workers to design a workshop to sensitize health care workers to the unique circumstances that the hijras community faces in encountering the health care system. The goal of this grant is develop a training program that will reduce stigma and discrimination in the health care setting for members of the hijras community and foster better health outcomes.

Swagata Banik, PhD, director of Public Health Program at Baldwin Wallace University, is the principal investigator on this grant and Coleman is a co-investigator.

Photo: Swagata Banik, PhD, and Eli Coleman, PhD



Katie Spencer, PhD, assistant professor, is the new coordinator of Transgender Health Services at PHS. Spencer is eager to continue to bring the program in line with current best practices in transgender care, increase operational transparency, and deepen community collaborations.

Spencer believes that, "In recent years there has been a huge and welcomed shift in health care for transgender and gender nonconforming individuals. Across the nation and locally more physicians and mental health providers are being trained to provide quality care for transgender and gender nonconforming patients, which increases access for trans clients. Part of our role is to continue to engage in cutting-edge research, training, and clinical service to break down barriers to competent care for trans clients. We have also seen a ground swell in community organizations that provide support to individuals across the gender spectrum. It is an exciting time to be in transgender health care, with multiple opportunities for collaboration, capacity building, and expanding the framework of how we provide trans clients the best holistic health care."

Over the last month Spencer has started to systematically incorporate the recommendations from the revised Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People as well as science-based research on trans health into the operations of the Center for Sexual Health. This process includes updating staff and patient materials as well as clinical procedures. She is also meeting with community organizations, community health care providers, and colleagues in the region to discuss possible collaborations and partnerships. Spencer will be reviving a community advisory board to focus on the Transgender Health Services program. Spencer's longer-term goals include developing a patient peer mentor program, revamping the group therapy model, and creating a community support space for patients and families that would include a library or resource materials on health, legal, and social support issues.

Spencer believes in empowering patients to have more say in their own and their community's care, revising our model of care to reflect patient-centered, patient-informed, and collaborative models of care, consistent with feedback from trans health care advocates and research on best outcomes for patient care. Spencer said, "My goal is to build on our successes in developing innovative research and public policy in the area of transgender health and incorporate these principles into a strong and cohesive framework that supports all aspects of our work in clinical care, new research, and community advocacy."

In addition to her clinical work, Spencer works with multiple community organizations working to educate about LGBT healthcare issues and primarily transgender healthcare. She works with the Minnesota Trans Youth Support Network on the Community Hormone Access Project, partnering with community advocates and trans youth to develop community based hormone protocols for transgender care, in hopes to increase access to competent care and hormone provision for trans youth. She recently participated in the development of a theatre educational project for high schools on transgender youth issues. Spencer provides training, education, and consultation on sexual health and transgender issues, and has worked with the Family Tree Clinic, Face to Face Health and Counseling Services, Fairview Clinics, the University of North Dakota, and the Minneapolis Veterans Administration. Spencer often speaks about the intersections of LGBT rights and impact on wellbeing, and recently presented a First Friday Forum for the Minnesota Psychological Association on the psychological research on same sex marriage.

Spencer received her MA and PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She received her BA in women's studies and psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her internship was completed at the University of Illinois-Chicago Counseling Center, and she was a postdoctoral fellow at PHS. She has a strong interest social justice, and education and training of therapists and medical providers in sexual health and transgender health care competency. Her primary clinical practice is working with transgender and gender non-conforming, adolescents, and adults, women's sexual health, and LGBT sexual health and wellbeing. She co-facilitates several groups, including the gender exploration group for youth and their families, the women's sexual health group, and transgender adult interpersonal groups. She has experience working with compulsive sexual behavior and general sexual dysfunction concerns. Her research and clinical interests focus on cultural competency in working with LGB and transgender populations, LGBT sexual health, sex therapy with LGBT couples, trans youth, and feminist embodied approaches to sexual health.

Spencer became coordinator of Transgender Health Services in October 2012, when the former coordinator Walter Bockting, PhD, joined the Initiative for LGBT Health a new program at the New York Psychiatric Institute and the Columbia University.


"Trans/formation" premiere a success

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Transformation-BP.jpgPHS joined Exposed Brick Theatre to create the new play based on the stories, experiences, and perspectives of transgender and gender non-conforming youth. Nearly 180 people attended the premiere performance of Trans/formation: Addressing Gender Issues in School at the Pillsbury House Theatre. After the production, the audience enjoyed a lively discussion with the cast, writers, and director about the themes of the play and their experience working on the project.

The aims of the project are to validate transgender and gender non-conforming youth experiences through performance, to educate peers, parents, families, friends, and educators about the experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming youth, and to encourage dialogues around gender issues, advocacy, and ally support for adolescents.

The performance on May 4, 2012, was the first step in a larger process. The next steps will be for the playwrights Anton Jones, Suzy Messerole, and Aamera Siddiqui to make final edits to the script and for PHS psychologists Katie Spencer, PhD, and Dianne Berg, PhD, to finalize the educational materials on the themes of the play. The play script and educational materials will then be made available for high school groups to download and perform at their schools, amplifying the impact of this project.

PHS and Exposed Brick would like to thank Stacey Mills and Sam Heins for their donation that made this project possible. We would also like to thank all of the people that helped to create this piece including the youth we interviewed, the advisory board whose thoughtful and creative feedback lifted the play to a whole new level, the youth who read the early drafts and whose honest feedback led us in the right direction. The youth performers are outstanding and their commitment to the piece has been amazing.

PHOTO: credit David Hannigan




Transgender Youth Theatre Project



Gender-play-BP.jpgPHS has joined Exposed Brick Theatre to create a new play Trans/formation: Addressing Gender Issues in School based on the stories, experiences, and perspectives of transgender and gender non-conforming youth.  Dianne Berg, PhD, and Katie Spencer, PhD, are working with playwrights Anton Jones, Suzy Messerole, Aamera Siddiqui, and a community advisory group to develop the production and educational materials.  The aims of the project are to validate transgender youth experiences through performance, to educate peers, parents, families, friends, and educators about the experiences of transgender youth, and to encourage dialogues around gender issues, advocacy, and ally support for adolescents.
"In working with trans youth, it is integral to reach them in the settings they are in daily, it is not enough to intervene in the therapy office, but you also have to reach out to the classroom, to families, and to the community," said Spencer.  "This is a big step for PHS to put funding behind a community educative initiative like this, and I can tell you, from the community work I have been doing, people are really responding to it and they see it as a positive thing!"

The play production will be premiered on May 4, 2012, at the Pillsbury House Theatre in Minneapolis.  The play will also be performed at a Twin Cities high school.  Ultimately the play script and educational materials will be available for high school groups to download and perform at their schools. 

Messerole said that one of the individuals interviewed for the play shared that during his junior year of high school the gay straight alliance at his school brought in a speaker who was transgender.  The student shared with Messerole that it was the first time he had ever seen another transgender person and it was a very powerful experience.  Messerole added, "We all need to know that we are not alone, we all need to know that there are others who have similar stories. One of the most powerful things about theatre is its ability to hold up a mirror and see one's self reflected on stage. It's very validating to see someone one stage who 'gets you' in a way that is complex and nuanced."

Exposed Brick has worked extensively with area schools, creating over 30 Stand In It with Me performances since 2006.  Stand In It With Me performances are custom created for each school, based on interviews with students and teachers.  The performances fuel dialogue on issues of racism, gender discrimination, sexual orientation, classism, immigration, and more.

PHS and Exposed Brick are grateful to Stacey Mills and Sam Heins for their donation that made this project possible.  We would also like to thank all of the people that helped to create this piece including the youth we interviewed, the advisory board whose thoughtful and creative feedback lifted the play to a whole new level, the youth who read the early drafts and whose honest feedback led us in the right direction.  The youth performers are outstanding and their commitment to the piece has been amazing.

Community Advisory Board Members
Claire Avitable, director, 20% Theater Company
Katie Burgess, director, Trans Youth Support Network
Andrea Jenkins, trans activist, performer, poet
Moe Lionel, performer, Naked Stages Performer
Anthony Neumann, performer, director, Naked Eye
Ethan Turcotte, arts administrator, Kulture Klub Collaborative

Trans/formation: Addressing Gender Issues in School
By Anton Jones, Suzy Messerole, and Aamera Siddiqui

Friday, May 4, 2012 at 7 PM
Pillsbury House Theatre, 3501 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55407

Parking: Free parking is available in the Pillsbury House lot next to Full Cycle, just south of 35th on the east side of the street.  Free street parking is also available on 35th and all other surrounding neighborhood streets.

Free and open to the public.  To reserve a seat, please RSVP to Jenae Batt at or 612-625-1331.



APA-BP.jpgWalter Bockting, PhD, was appointed to the American Psychological Association (APA) Task Force on Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Non-conforming Clients.  

Earlier, Bockting also served on the APA Task Force on Gender Identity and Gender Variance that released a report in 2008 that made several recommendations, including the recommendation to develop practice guidelines.  The new guidelines will help psychologists and students develop cultural competence for working with transgender clients and their families.

The group had their first face-to-face meeting February 10-12, 2012, in Atlanta, GA.  Bockting described the meeting as very productive.  He said, "Our task came into focus when we heard from individuals from the Atlanta transgender community about what is important to them and the challenges they have faced in their interactions with psychologists.  These guidelines are long overdue."  Once the guidelines are published, the next step will be to develop training for psychologists and students to develop their competence in treating transgender individual with respect and sensitivity.

The task force is a joint effort between Division 44 and the American Psychological Association Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns.  Group members include lore m .dickey (co-chair), Anneliese A. Singh (co-chair), Walter Bockting, Sand Chang, Kelly Ducheny, Laura Edwards-Leeper, Randall Ehrbar (PHS postdoctoral fellowship alumnus), Max Fuhrmann, Michael Hendricks, and Ellen Magalhaes.

In January 2012 the APA published practice guidelines in several areas, including revised "Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients."


About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Transgender category.

Therapy is the previous category.

Video is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.