The ABC’s of LGBTQ Rights Protections with LGBTQ Affirming Therapist Jamie Swanson [IEP 011]
How can we all become more aware and understanding of students who identify as LGBTQ? What can parents and schools do to become more inclusive? Joining us today is LGBTQ affirming therapist, Jamie Swanson, and she shares some insights on appropriate language to use and legal protections to be aware of.
Full show transcript at the bottom of this post.
What We Cover in This Episode:
- What does LGBQT stands for?
- What does an affirming therapist do and how can he/she help a LGBTQ student?
- What role privilege plays in helping allies raise awareness
- What the appropriate language is to refer to an LGBTQ person
- What legal protections exist for LGBTQ students in schools
- Should a parent have the right to choose the gender of their child on the birth certificate when the child is born?
- Is an IEP an option for a LGBTQ student?
Birth Certificate law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (Assembly Bill 179)
OCEC ? Orange County Equality Coalition
Jamie’s Contact Information:
Location: 2900 Bristol St. Suite J204, Costa Mesa, Ca 92626
Number: (949) 298-5251
Thank you for listening!
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Vickie Brett: Welcome to the Inclusive Education Project. I am Vickie Brett.
Amanda Selogie: I’m Amanda Selogie. We’re two civil rights lawyers on a mission to change the conversation about education, civil rights, and modern activism.
Vickie Brett: Each week we’re going to explore new topics, which are going to educate and empower others.
Amanda Selogie: And, give them a platform to enact change in education, and level the playing field.
Vickie Brett: Welcome back to our podcast, The Inclusive Education Project. This is Vickie and Amanda. Amanda has a little bit of a cough. Say hi.
Amanda Selogie: My voice is kind of gone, so I apologize today. I mean, honestly, I’ll probably still be talking just as much as normal, but I apologize for the scruffy voice.
Vickie Brett: So, that’s why you’re going to be hearing me again. Anyway, I wanted to actually take the time and say thank you, once again, for subscribing to our podcast. Like we’ve been saying in previous podcasts, we’ve gotten some really great feedback from people, and keep it coming. We really enjoy reading your comments and questions that you’ve actually emailed to us.
I know that we’ve said this a couple of times, we are special education attorneys, and we are doing this podcast for educational purposes. We’re not your attorney, but please, with anything, take it with a grain of salt. It’s food for thought. If you have any legal questions, or need the advice of an attorney, then please contact an attorney.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah, this is just our disclaimer that this podcast is not official legal advice, but it’s just like Vee said, food for thought.
Vickie Brett: Today is really exciting, because we have a guest. Her name is Jamie Swanson. Jamie, take it away. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Jamie Swanson: Thanks, you guys, for having me. I’m Jamie. I’m an LGBT and transgender affirming therapist in private practice. I work to actively support those who identify as transgender, non-binary, or anywhere along the LGBT spectrum.
Vickie Brett: This is a topic that Amanda and I are really excited that you’re hear for, because there is a lot of terminology to call students that are transitioning, and stuff. We have so many questions. I’m getting ahead of myself.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah, so for our listeners today, we’re really excited to talk about this topic. We’ve touched on a diverse variety of students that are kind of in an arsenal of who we work with. One in particular that we really want to touch on today, is not just our LGBTQ community, but also our transgender youth, and really talk about what does that mean, how we define those individuals, who they represent, and kind of the topics that are more challenging for them, as well as looking for legal protections, both the federal and state law.
So, looking at practical applications. Later on in the episode we’ll talk about if you feel like you have an individual that you’re working with, or is your child that’s going through this, where are some resources that they can go to.
Vickie Brett: I think, let’s just start with acronyms. We deal with a lot of acronyms, so for people that may not necessarily know what LGBQ stands for, do you want to explain to them what that means?
Jamie Swanson: Sure, so the letters just kind of go on and on, and there is a bunch of them-
Vickie Brett: Right, they’ve been added, yeah.
Jamie Swanson: But, we can kind of talk about what the main ones that you probably see mostly in media and maybe just a couple that you don’t … aren’t as familiar with. Typically, you’ll hear LGBT. You could hear LGBTQ. There’s LGBTQIA, and so on and so forth. What those stand for is really shorthand for a group of individuals who identify anywhere in the LGBT realm.
L, which is lesbian; G, which is gay; B, which is bisexual; T, which is transgender. Transgender is more so of an umbrella term, so you have transgender, or gender diverse people in there as well who don’t identify on the binary of just male or female. Q, can be queer or questioning; I is intersex; and A is asexual, or ally, and so on and so forth.
Vickie Brett: Awesome. You were saying that you are an affirming therapist. Do you want to kind of get into a little bit about that title, and what it is that you do?
Jamie Swanson: Sure, so technically I am an associate marriage and family therapist, and associate professional clinical counselor, however, when I speak with people, I also tell them I am also a transgender and LGBT affirming therapist. What I mean by that, and why I use that, is because predominately, the majority of my clients do identify as transgender, or gender diverse. They make up the majority of my practice, so I tend to separate transgender out from our LGBQ, just to put emphasis on that.
The affirming part is more so I’m not only familiar and go to multiple trainings throughout my career on transgendered issues and challenges, and current research, but I also work to actively support and affirm them in everything that I do during therapy, and even outside of the office. For me, I am out there at pride festivals, actively supporting them. If I hear any people using incorrect terms, I’ll gently correct them if I’m in a space to do so.
In terms of therapy, we actively support their gender identity, their gender expression. We don’t remain neutral in that, and we don’t try to change them or try to have them prove themself to us. We take what they’re coming into therapy with as their truth, and we support them in that and help them with whatever issues they’re facing, whether it be in regards to their gender identity, or just any other life issue that they’re coming in with.
Vickie Brett: It seems really niche, right?
Jamie Swanson: Yeah.
Vickie Brett: What … something similar that Amanda and I do in special education, people are just like, “What is that,” and they’re like asking all these questions, and that’s what I’m going to do right now. What got you interested in wanting to help this particular group of people? Was it something in your life, or you just a need, and you were like, “I need to get in, and I just need to help out?”
Jamie Swanson: Yeah. My whole life, from the time I was little, I always knew I wanted to be a therapist in general. My aunt was a therapist, so when I was seven, I was like, “Tell me about people. Let me know about what kids of people are out there.”
Vickie Brett: That’s so cute.
Jamie Swanson: I always knew I was going to fall into being a therapist. It’s just what I knew was going to happen for me. As I grew up, I just realized that the needs of marginalized individuals and the prevalence of discrimination, you would think that we’ve advanced so much, even from civil rights times or women’s rights times, but there is still so much discrimination when it comes to the LGBT community. I’ve always had a space in my heart for this community.
In my undergraduate studies, my major was in psychology, but minor was in LGBT studies. I always knew I was going to somehow serve them in some way, and wanted to. Then, as I entered my master’s program, you start your therapy hours while you’re still going through your graduate program. It just so happened that my supervisor, Erin Pollard, who is in my training institute, was my supervisor. She asked me what my passion was. I told her, “I’ve wanted to work with the LGBT community,” and she goes, “Well, that’s so funny. I work with the transgender community.”
Amanda Selogie: What a small world.
Jamie Swanson: Yeah, so we just kind of clicked and hit it off. I work in private practice under her supervision, and we have just kind of narrowed our niche into a transgender community who is even more marginalized than the lesbian and gay community as a whole.
Amanda Selogie: One of the things that popped into my mind is, we get asked all the time about what we do about … you don’t have kids that are special needs, so how is it you became so passionate? We definitely see the same passion in you, and so I think it’s important to kind of touch on having more of the conversation with everyone else.
The people that are in this community obviously have a passion and fight, and you were talking about going to pride, and all of that sort of thing, and one thing that we always try to challenge our listeners is to change the conversation of not just talking about it in the sense of you’re dealing with someone individual, so you’re going to advocate on behalf of that individual, but really changing the conversation that everybody has.
Is that something that you try to do? It kind of sounds like you do in your every day life of trying to change everyone’s perceptions about these individuals.
Jamie Swanson: Yeah. Obviously, I walk the world differently. I identify as cisgender, so not transgender or gender diverse. I walk the world in a different way than people who do live and have more direct experience of discrimination, or the treatment of society. Fortunately, I have privilege that people in the trans community don’t necessarily have. What I mean by having privilege is because I speak from a white cisgender perspective, people may listen to me, and be able to take me in a different way as I advocate for trans people.
When I give talks to colleges, I always talk about privilege and the sense that we can use our privilege in a positive way. I try to use that as best as I can to engage people in conversations about it. A lot of people don’t understand what it means to be transgender, and there’s a not of mixing of, “Is sex the same thing as gender? Is sexual orientation the same thing as gender? Aren’t they all the same thing?” I’ll engage in dialogue with people about that, even outside of my office, and in my regular life as well.
Vickie Brett: I think something that really brought it into the world a little bit more was Caitlyn Jenner, right? I’m sure you get that all the time, where people are like, “Oh, I’m identifying this situation with Caitlyn Jenner, and how she was able to go out.”
Do you think that that kind of … I’m sure any exposure helped, but is that probably how people kind of start conversations with you as just kind of grasping on to things that they know of, such as Bruce Jenner transitioning into Caitlyn Jenner?
Jamie Swanson: I think from especially a parent perspective, maybe parents that aren’t so knowledgeable, and they have a child that is coming out to them as being trans … I think I hear that mostly with parents, “All I know of is Caitlyn Jenner,” and as much publicity as she gets, it’s kind of like a double-edged sword. There’s always positives and negatives of certain people coming out, and certain people bringing light to issues, whether they be trans issues or other.
Some people do have issues with Caitlyn Jenner when it comes to her political views, the way in which she came out. There are … obviously people have their own perspectives on it, however, regardless of whatever people’s thoughts are on her, it did help to kind of bring more light, I would say, to the topic of trans experiences, maybe in places where many people wouldn’t have been exposed to it otherwise.
Amanda Selogie: We talk about a lot of things that affect students. We know things that might affect a trans individual in their every day life, right? What are some things that you’ve seen that affect students? I mean, puberty, and going through adolescence is hard enough as it is, so what are some kind of trends that you see that maybe should be … kind of shed more light and make people more aware of everything these kids are going through?
Jamie Swanson: In terms of students, it almost becomes even more difficult, because you then have more people that you’re trying to help, the child feel more safe at school. In California, fortunately, we’re a lot more advanced than other states are. However, there still is a lot of hoops to jump through when it comes to these kids. They still being misgendered by teachers, misgendered by students, or faculty.
Even if they’ve come in and said, “These are my pronouns that I use. This is my asserted name, please refer to me as this,” their legal name, or their dad name, would still be on attendance sheets or report cards, or I.D. cards. I’ve had people share with me that they have just put up fights with schools of, “You gave me a name tag, and it outs me to have this name on my name tag. Why does it have to be on my name tag?” And, it doesn’t. It shouldn’t.
It’s difficult, even though there are protections for trans students in California, it’s not like they’re necessarily being followed down to a T. So, it does become more of a fight, whether it be on the parent’s behalf, or on the child’s behalf, which they shouldn’t have to be fighting for those things as they’re just trying to go to school and learn, and go through puberty at the same time.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah, that’s a lot.
Jamie Swanson: Yeah.
Amanda Selogie: I want to get into the protections that they have, but I guess one thing we should have said at the beginning … we always want to make sure that we’re being as sensitive as possible to individuals. We always talk about people living with disabilities as the person first language, so we say a student is a child living with autism, for example, not to say “kid”, so is there terminology that we should be using, that the general population should be using, to be looking at that person first type language?
Jamie Swanson: There is a lot of language, and it’s always evolving. There are certain terms that even I was using a year ago, that I don’t necessarily use anymore. When you’re discussing transgender individuals, you don’t want to say anything like, “That transgender,” “That person is transgendered,” it’s not a verb. It’s an adjective.
The way in which people want to be identified is you can say people want to identify as transgender, which is an umbrella term as we’ve said before. People can identify as gender diverse, which may mean transgender, which may mean non-binary. When I refer to binary, I mean the traditional male and female as being the two binaries that we traditionally use in American society.
There are people that fall anywhere in between those things. Some people identify as male. Some people identify as female. Some people identify as both, or neither, or anywhere in between the two. When you meet someone in the street, and you’re referring to someone, just ask them, if they’re sharing with you that they are transgender, never assume, but if they’re sharing with you that, you can ask them, “How would you like me to refer to you as? What pronouns would you like me to use? Do you use she/her pronouns? Do you use him/his pronouns? Do you use they pronouns?” Which, some people who are non-binary use, or, “Other?”
There’s many others that people use as well. When we’re referring to that, you definitely want to be sensitive to the way in which people refer to themselves. We do use terms like … when you’re referring to their legal name, I just use legal name, or some people use the term “dead name,” when you’re referring to their name that they wish to be called, it’s called their “asserted name,” which is their name.
Vickie Brett: The idea is that one day not to say “asserted name,” right? It’s just a way to identify right now as they’re transitioning, right?
Jamie Swanson: Sure. If they still have a legal name, and they haven’t gone through the court documents of having that legal name changed yet, they would have a legal name and an asserted name, or chosen name.
Amanda Selogie: Great. I think it would be a great time to go into … you mentioned that California is kind of ahead of the times, which is great. In the news recently, there’s been a lot of talk about the protections that President Obama put in place during his administration that President Trump has now repealed, and then also Title 9 protections that Betsy DeVos, or the [inaudible 00:16:34] Education has kind of brought about.
Maybe we could start about what California has done in the past where they’re trailblazers. What kind of protections does California put in place?
Jamie Swanson: In 2013, before even the Obama administration clarified with the Title 9 about a year ago, that it does include protections for gender identity/gender expression, in 2013, California came out with Assembly Bill 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act, which goes above and beyond really what a lot of other states have done, or even the federal government done, just to make sure that trans students can use the school facilities that correlate with their gender identity, and be on sports teams that correlate with their gender identity, amongst other things of having the protections of allowing them to, in all unofficial documents, hopefully be referred to as their chosen name, chosen pronouns.
Protection was something, luckily, that doesn’t go away when Title 9 got rescinded. This year, these protections are definitely still in place. However, with Title 9 going away, it kind of then still creates this environment of we can still be discriminatory, and we can still harass people. It kind of sends that message to the trans community, and these trans kids, too.
Luckily, what these protections do provide, though, is hopefully a space for continued enforcement of correct bathroom uses, and not falling back into the separate, but equal, rules that we used to have in civil rights times. Because, it does feel like that for some people sometimes. To walk into a restroom or a locker room that corresponds with your own gender identity, and to feel discriminated in that, just creates an unsafe environment for kids.
Hopefully, I would hope that most of the schools are going through with following through on these protections. It does apply to all state-funded schools, so this would be K-12, this would be public schools, this would be public colleges, and unfortunately, it doesn’t necessarily extend to private schools, so there’s loop holes that you kind of have to find under anti-discrimination business laws when it comes to private schools.
I speak, obviously on behalf, as a therapist, but these are more so what I have been researching on and learning about in terms of the protections for kids in our schools right now.
Vickie Brett: Right, and obviously something that comes to mind when a big corporation decides to make a stand, if you will … I don’t know, maybe Target didn’t want to make a stand, but when they decided that they’d have gender neutral bathrooms, right? That was a big deal. It was like almost overshadowed by the hate that spewed out from people.
It must have been really nice to see, outside of a school setting, like “Oh, my gosh. We’re going to have gender neutral,” … in California at least, I’ve seen plenty of bathrooms now that have become gender neutral, and that anybody could use. But, was that a sight for sore eyes when you saw Target just come out and be like, “Yeah, we’re going to have gender neutral bathrooms,” or was that, “Oh, about time,” like maybe other people will follow suit. How did you feel when you saw the news of that?
Jamie Swanson: Obviously, it’s definitely and exciting change that more and more businesses are taking on. It does kind of just feel though, like this is just kind of should have happened already. It almost makes me think again back in civil rights times. Why are we even having this argument still? It just seems so outdated. However, it’s not.
Luckily, too, in addition to Target, and not many people businesses know this either is that this year … yes, there’s been all this negative coverage in terms of legal things being rescinded on the federal government level, but California, again, taking more steps to protect trans people, and make more inclusive spaces for trans people on a day to day life, passed a bill saying that all public businesses are required, and would be practicing outside the scope of the law … they are required to have all of their single stall restrooms be gender neutral.
This means there shouldn’t be male or female signs on single stalled restrooms in any public businesses going forward in the state of California, which was a huge leap for many places, which Target has luckily been above that and gone beyond that. All businesses should be practicing in accord with that now, and it’s nice to see that. It’s nice to hear that amongst the negativity that’s out there, too.
Vickie Brett: Just with special education, it’s relatively new. It’s about 40-some odd years, old. People all the time are just asking us about the different types of resolutions that we can up with, which are somewhat creative, which is great. I always say it’s like the Wild West. Contracts law has been around since day one. Everybody knows England had it. It’s like, “I give you this goat. You give me this cheese from the goat,” whatever, right?
It’s pretty standard, and to be able to see California taking steps. California is usually at the forefront of protecting rights and things like that, but it’s the same type of thing. It was only how many years ago that it was separate, and it was … and that’s equal. We’re still seeing that in different realms with transgender youth, with children with disabilities, and adults living with disabilities. It’s almost kind of jarring to you or I, especially growing up and kind of seeing even the use of the word “gay”.
In the 2000’s, I was watching a show, and they were like, “Oh, that’s so gay.” I was like, “Oh my gosh. People used to say that all the time.” That was just common. It was fine. It was an insult. To see how much we’ve grown is great, and it’s kind of disheartening, obviously, to see certain federal protections being rolled back. It’s been a hard year for Amanda and I to see that.
Obviously, we can still fight the good fight. California has great laws. We are in the Ninth Circuit, as well, that’s able to interpret those laws to protect those students as they were written.
Amanda Selogie: One of the things I wanted to ask you about also, because we were talking about how progressive California is, and we know in all areas. But, I did read about the new law that Governor Jerry Brown passed that will come into effect next year about birth certificates being able to not only allow individuals to change their identity on their birth certificates, but have a non-binary option. Have you read much about that law, and how that will change next year?
Jamie Swanson: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
Amanda Selogie: What are your thoughts?
Jamie Swanson: I know my non-legal experience information about that, but that was also a really great thing for people to hear, too, because for people that, for example, identify as non-binary, or people that identify as intersex, this gave people an option on driver’s licenses to change this, and birth certificates. This is another really great inclusive move in the direction that we hope to keep moving in.
Amanda Selogie: One thing that we hear a lot is myths about we’re moving forward, and then there’s always the haters, the people that are going to be negative about. We hear people … there are states that are trying to put together bathroom bills that actually do the opposite of what California is doing. We hear people say, “Oh, this is opening the floodgates, and it’s a slippery slope if we do these things. Next thing you know,” I mean, it’s the same kind of criticisms that same-sex marriage got.
If you’re allowed to marry the same sex, what’s going to be next? You marry your dog, which we know are not the truth, and we know it’s not accurate to say. I have heard several kind of critiques of some of this progressiveness of, “Where does it end?” One thing I heard, and of course, I don’t agree with any of these, but it’s important to talk about the other side and figuring out ways.
One thing that Vickie and I have been trying to figure out this year, because obviously, we don’t agree with everybody on political issues, and it’s important, I think, to be able to have that conversation with the other side of if they make comments like these critiques, how can we have a conversation with them and not necessarily correct them, but give them the right information? A critique that I have heard with this specific thing with the birth certificates is, when parents have a child, is it okay for the parents to then say, “I’m going to select this gender,” or, “I’m going to select non-binary,” or, “I’m going to select that, because I want my child,”
I’ve heard some parents that are like, “I’m not going to identify my child as one or the other. I’m going to let them choose.” What are your thoughts about those suggestions, or how would you respond to critiques like that?
Jamie Swanson: When it comes to this issue of does someone choose their gender, and can a parent choose their gender, I would say no, because gender identity is in and of itself, just a deeply felt innate sense of who you are in terms of being male, female, both, neither, somewhere along there. When it even comes to small children who … there are kids identifying even before they can speak, when it comes to gender identity.
Especially when they’re really young, you think we talk about them more as gender nonconforming, in terms of not that that’s their identity, but that they don’t conform with traditional gender stereotypes, whether it be the way in which they choose to dress, whether it be toys that they choose to play with, or how they’re referring to themselves, or how they’re asking to be referred to.
As they age and are able to speak more and communicate more, you’ll start hearing from them how they wish to be identified as, even if they don’t have the language yet. They’ll say, “I’m not a fill in the blank,” “I’m not a boy, don’t call me that.” Ask them, whether they be a child or an adult, just ask people, “What do you feel in your heart is true to you?” That kind of opens up a space to have conversations with kids about who they know themselves to be, and how they would like to be seen in the world, and then you can address them going forward there. No, I don’t think that parents will necessarily be choosing their kids’ gender identity. That will definitely be up to the child.
Amanda Selogie: Have you heard … and, I’m sure you hear the negative side, people who are against this progression. Is there anything that you’ve heard that you would want to set the record straight, or kind of clarify? We always see things in the news media, and I’m not going to call it fake news, but I think a lot of people are just uninformed sometimes. Is there anything that you would think is important for people to know that maybe people are misinformed about?
Vickie Brett: It’s not fake news, it’s usually just bad journalism on behalf of people. I think it’s one of those things where it’s important. I’ve heard you talk about feelings, and talking about … I think that is the space, and then you keep talking about, “Oh, we want to open up a space to talk,” and I just feel like not enough people listen, either.
Jamie Swanson: Sure. Yeah, I think that … you know, when we think of just really any topic, we kind of look at it from a societal lens. When it comes to transgender identities, we talk about it, or mainstream America talks about it from this traditional American society, very male/female oriented lens. So, you kind of can’t think of, or know much about transgender experiences if you don’t look at how are we putting our views of what we think should be someone’s gender identity.
Okay, well it comes from this idea that there is only male and female, but if we look back in history, and in different cultures, it’s not the same. There are cultures that have more than just male and female identities that are expressed, and are revered even, or respected. You look at two-spirit individuals from other cultures and if you’re looking at it from a societal lens, you get stuck in that binary of, “Well, this is what it should be,” right?
Not necessarily. Take that piece away, and really there is just a whole spectrum of what gender can be and is, and even when it comes down to if you were looking at chromosomes even, we know that there is even more than X, X, X, Y chromosomes, because we have intersex individuals.
You know these things that were kind of brought up with, and here in the media, and here around us and are taught, are not necessarily set in stone and correct, because this is not how people are. Unfortunately, that’s been the mainstream message for so long, so most people fall under the constraints of that message. Now, you have people having more space to identify as trans or non-binary, and they receive a lot of that pushback from the people that have been influenced by the societal norm.
Vickie Brett: It’s like the labeling, right?
Jamie Swanson: Right.
Vickie Brett: It’s just easier to label something.
Jamie Swanson: Sure.
Vickie Brett: So, once you, like you said, take that away, then we’re just left with a person.
Jamie Swanson: Right, just a person.
Vickie Brett: A human, and we’re talking about … I think that as we’re winding down, I wonder what’s a thought or a piece of advice that you give to a young adult, or teen, or kid, that’s dealing with just trying to find their voice? What is it like? It’s been a rough year, I feel like, for me. I need a piece of good. What should I hold on to, you know what I’m saying? What could help someone get through a tough time knowing that it’s okay, and that they can find resources out there. What do you think that you would say to someone that was struggling?
Jamie Swanson: I would say, to anybody who is struggling or may be struggling with gender identity, and feeling, “Is it safe?” Or, “How do I even explore this?” Is find some sort of support, anything. If you’re not feeling it at home from parents, maybe there’s a safe person to talk to at your school. Is there a point person who you know is a safe, affirming LGBT-affirming individual? Listen to the people around you, and listen to who feels like they might be a sources of support for you.
If you can’t find that there, a lot of people that I work with that don’t feel a lot of support in their life, have felt a lot of support from online communities, or has been the first place that they’ve even talked to, or learned anything about. To find some source of support, whether it be in person or online, or whether it be an LGBT center in your community, health practitioner that you research that is actively affirming of who they are. Just reach out, because the support is out there, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.
Amanda Selogie: That’s really helpful. I think one thing we want to also give as advice for parents if you’re struggling with … Jamie talked about … you talked about how there are a lot of protections in the schools, but the schools aren’t always following it. So, one thing we always tell parents is it’s really important for parents to open up to the schools to ask for things.
I think a lot of times are afraid to ask for things, because either they’re afraid of being told no, or the law doesn’t allow for it. I know we’ve had instances where we have students that are either transitioning, or identify as a certain gender, and they have IEPs or 504 plans, because that is an added protection as well, but when we talk about certain things that they need in school … if it’s counseling, school-based counseling to help them, or social skills to help them with peer relationships, IEPs and 504s can help.
We often think of an IEP as something that a child has to have a “disability”, but it’s really anything that impacts our education. So, some of the struggles, I think you’ve seen, it does impact their education. They would probably possibly qualify. We always want to tell parents that is an option for their family. Have you seen that being able to help support students that you’ve worked with?
Jamie Swanson: Personally, in terms of my transgender kids and students that I see, I haven’t personally dealt with any of them who have been on IEPs, more so … but I do highly recommend to get them, because it would be, like you said, an added support. It’s unfortunate that we even need that to say, “Oh, let’s actually get these kids their rights that they deserve in their schools.” It’s kind of sad that we even need that, but for the schools that aren’t maybe as affirming or as open to embracing these changes that they should be embracing in their school, it would be an added protection.
I do suggest to parents, though, that I work with to fight for their child in the schools however that looks like, and get a team behind you to support you, whether it be attorneys, whether it be mental health professionals, whether it be doctors. Go in there and make relationships with the principals, make relationships with the teachers, and have your kid be a part of this process. Really, when it comes down to it, it’s their lives, and they should have a say in this.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah.
Vickie Brett: And, it helps with self-advocacy in the future, and it kind of just roots them in their community because they are a part of it. They are not just an outsider and having their parent battle it for them. Do you have any resources of anything in Orange County that, if parents have any questions, or if they want to maybe even reach out to you, your email address? How can they contact you?
Jamie Swanson: Sure, for me, people are more than welcome to send me an email, go to my office, you’re welcome to visit my website, which is ocholistictherapy.com. I practice out of Costa Mesa by the camp and the lab area, 2900 Bristol Street, Ste. J-204, and my phone number is 949-298-5251. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
People are more than welcome to call me with questions. I say I’m a therapist, but I also say I’m a resourcer as part of my job, because I end up having to connect people with other types of professionals, other types of community events, or organizations that can be of help to parents and kids. I am a good resource. The LGBT Center of Orange County is phenomenal. They are just amazing on all accounts.
There is P-Flag groups throughout Orange County to support groups. In terms of legal stuff, obviously you want to find attorneys who are knowledgeable and open and affirming. There’s Lambda Legal, OCEC, which is the Orange County Equality Coalition, there is the ACLU, Civil Liberties Union. A lot of good, strong resources, at least in the California area that can be of service. If they’re not of service, I can hopefully connect you with someone that is.
Again, this is an important topic. When we even think of how far we’ve come, yet we still have so far to go, even rates of harassment and suicidality are really high. To have these students at least have more people on their corner, and more people on their side, that can be of support to them, will hopefully lower the suicidality, lower the mental health distress, lower their issues that they’re having, whether it be in school, whether it be at home, whether at be in their personal lives.
Amanda Selogie: Thank you for all of that. I know that definitely Vickie and I learned a lot. It’s definitely a topic that we’ve wanted to learn more about. We’ve met with you before, and we try to learn as much as we can. I think it’s important for listeners to know. We’ll definitely be putting up your information on our show notes, as well as organizations that you listed as resources.
We just encourage our listeners, whether it’s someone that you’re helping in your life, or it’s just a topic that you want to learn more about, we really encourage you to reach out and find out more information. Research some of these organizations. If there is any way that you can help spread the message, even if it’s as simple as you hear someone using an incorrect term, correcting them, just like Jamie said. We really encourage it.
We so appreciate you coming in today.
Jamie Swanson: Thanks for having me.
Vickie Brett: Yeah, thank you. That will do it for today’s podcast. Remember to subscribe and leave a comment about what you thought about this episode, and we will see you guys soon. Thanks so much.
Amanda Selogie: Bye, see you next week.