Going Beyond Rainbow Flags

Pride and support for our 2SLGBTQ+ community goes beyond a month. In this blog, Edmonton Based Counsellor, Adam Sartore, explores how we can consciously show up as allies for 2SLGBTQ+ folks every day.

Mental Health and the 2SLGBTQ+ Community

While as a country Canada has come a long way (from the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1969 to the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2005), many 2SLGBTQ+ Canadians continue to face widespread oppression and experience poorer mental health than the majority of the general population. The following paints a picture of some of the unique challenges experienced by 2SLGBTQ+ Canadians: 

  • According to Statistics Canada (2018), 59% of sexual minority Canadians over the age of 15 have been sexually or physically assaulted opposed to 37% of their heterosexual peers.
  • In 2018, 32% of sexual minority Canadians described their mental health as poor or fair, and 40% of sexual minority Canadians reported having seriously contemplated suicide. 
  • Transgender and gender-diverse Canadians, are about 5 times more likely to attempt suicide and 2 times more likely to experience poverty and severe homelessness than the general population. 
  • According to the Trevor Project in 2021, more than 50% of American 2SLGBTQ+ youth experienced sexuality or gender-based discrimination in the past year. 
  • According to the Trevor Project in 2021, only 1 in 3 American 2SLGBTQ+ youth found their home to be affirming. 
  • Lastly, it is estimated that about 1 in every 3 houseless youth in Canada identifies as 2SLGBTQ+.


Taking Action Beyond Pride Month

So what daily action can we take to show up as conscious and supportive allies? The following provides a starting point and is by no means an exhaustive list: 

  • Respect and use the correct pronouns and names for trans and gender non-conforming folks: Research shows that having their pronouns respected directly decreases the sucide risk for trans and gender-conforming folks. A great rule of thumb is if you use the wrong pronoun once, try to use the correct pronoun three times.
  • Be conscious of the language you use by avoiding gendered language when referring to others: When writing emails or talking to groups, consider using gender-neutral terms such as “Hi folks”, “Hi all”, or “Hi everyone” opposed to “Hi guys” or “Hi ladies and gentlemen”. You can also use the word partner or significant other instead of boyfriend or girlfriend to avoid misgendering someone’s partner or spouse.
  • When someone comes out to you respect their confidentiality and don’t out them to others: Coming out as queer, trans or any part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community is a process that takes time. The only person who should decide how quickly to move through the coming out process is the individual themselves. Being outed can also create a safety concern for queer and trans folks if they do not live in a supportive home environment. If someone comes out to you: thank them for having the courage to tell you, let them know you will honour their privacy, and ask them “How can I further support you?” 
  • If you are an educator or professional and a youth comes out to you as trans or gender non-conforming, take the time to ask them the following questions: What pronouns and name should I use when talking to you in private? What pronouns and name should I use when talking with you in front of others? What pronouns and name should I use when talking to your parents? 
  • Consider sharing your own pronouns on your email signature or when introducing yourself. This allows others in the space and opportunity to share their pronouns if they feel comfortable
  • If you are an adult supporting a queer or trans youth help them find affirming and supportive spaces where they can be themselves: Having access to community and school supports are strong protective factors against suicide in queer and trans youth. 
  • Get to know 2SLGBTQ+ specific care providers in your community.  Having access to affirming mental health and general health care is a strong protective factor against suicide for all 2SLGBTQ+ youth and adults. When reading bios look for physicians, counsellors and clinicians who specialize in working with queer or trans folks or who are members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community themselves. Holistic Healing Counselling is proud to be an affirming mental health provider for the Edmonton area.  

Affirming Health Care and Support Resources

The following is a list of affirming health care and support services for folks in Edmonton and across Alberta:

  1. Holistic Healing Counselling has counsellors with lived experience as members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community and who have significant experience working with 2SLGBTQ+ youth and adult clients.
  2. Skipping Stone specializes in providing affirming care and support services to trans and gender-diverse youth and adults as well as their families. They offer a wide variety of programs including systems navigation, peer mentorship and virtual support groups for trans and gender-diverse folks living across Alberta. Their website also has wonderful resources and information for trans and gender-diverse folks as well as family members and care providers.
  3. The Gender Program at the University of Alberta Hospital provides comprehensive assessments, multidisciplinary support, and gender-affirming interventions to anyone who feels that their assigned sex at birth is misaligned with their lived gender.
  4. Medi-Drugs Millcreek offers personalized transgender and queer-affirming pharmacy care to all of their patients. They operate from a progressive and patient-centered approach and strive to do everything they can to create a safe and welcoming space for all people.
  5. Fyrefly Institute offers a variety of programs and services that support the well-being of 2SLGBTQ+ youth in Edmonton and surrounding areas. They also offer workshops and consultation services for schools and organizations who want to learn how to effectively support and empower 2SLGBTQ+ youth and their families.
  6. Brite Line 24/7 support line for 2SLGBTIA+ folks of all ages located in Edmonton. For support call 1-844-70-BRITE or 1-844-702-7483.

Welcome to Holistic Healing

Welcome to Holistic Healing

Meet our certified therapists, Adam, Selena, Danielle, and Shaheen. No matter what you want to work on, we have a therapist to help. Our Counsellors focus on helping you feel at ease by allowing you to feel heard and understood. By using a holistic, or whole picture approach, our trained Counsellors can help their patients live a happier, more authentic life. Our therapists offer adult counselling, couples counselling, and adolescent/teen counselling. Interested in learning more? Need to book a session? Contact Us here.


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Counselling doesn’t just have to be for those who have reached a crisis situation. If you want to live a happier life by discussing the issues that are causing you stress, anxiety, or fear, contact Holistic Healing today to book your free initial consultation.

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