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Mental health professionals, advocates discuss resources for transgender community

Published: Friday, March 03, 2017 @ 5:10 PM

Mental health professionals, advocates discuss resources for transgender community

Mental health care professionals teamed up Friday with advocates to talk about issues surrounding mental health care and resources for the transgender community.

In 2014, a teenager who said she felt trapped in a male’s body killed herself when she walked in front of a moving semi in Warren County. Leelah Alcorn, 17, born Joshua Alcorn, said her family would not accept her gender identity.

News Center 7s Gabrielle Enright looks at the challenges facing the transgender community and what health care professionals are doing.

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“I’ve never been happier,” said Ramona Peel, who said it took her almost 30 years to accept her gender identity. “It seems so scary and daunting to actually accept myself and my own identity that I spent 20 years really denying the fact that I was trans and that I was a woman.”

More than one million people nationwide identify as transgender.

“When it comes to gender identity, there’s spectrum in how people identify,” said Dr. Scott Leibowitz of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

Often, they keep their personal life a secret.

“There’s a transgender American veterans association because there are so many transgender veterans that have served our country,” said Dr. Fred Peterson of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dozens of mental health care and social service providers gathered at Ellis Human Development Institute’s School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University’s Dayton campus to learn how to better connect transgender and gender-diverse populations with resources.

“There’s very few protections for people in Ohio, and it puts a big stress on their mental health and well being,” said Dr. Michelle Vaughan of the Ellis Human Development Institute.

Although organizers and participants said there is still much misinformation regarding transgender issues, a lot of progress has been made.

Organizers and participants said a lot of progress has been made.

“It is easier ... living authentically than it was before,” Peel said.