The Early Pandemic health

Over the course of the pandemic, social and economic inequities have become more pronounced for already marginalized groups, leading to growing food and housing insecurity, unemployment or loss of wages, and the inability to access other necessary services among trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people. Prior to the spring 2020, in pre-pandemic times, TGNC Southerners were more likely to report chronic mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, than their cisgender and gender conforming peers.

These disparities have often been linked to increased experiences of minority stress, or the stigma and discrimination that is targeted at transgender people. A common intervention for transgender people experiencing minority stress is social support. In times of crisis, physical and mental health conditions are often exacerbated by the increase of situational stressors and the interruption of access to traditional and community support services.

Between August 1, 2020 and February 1 2021, 2732 LGBTQ Southerners (1079 of whom identified as transgender or non-binary) completed an online survey aimed at understanding the early impact of the pandemic on their experiences at home, at work, and in their communities.

In our sample of LGBTQ Southerners, trans and non-binary people were more likely to be essential workers than cisgender respondents.  Simultaneously, trans men and trans women were more likely to be furloughed or laid off during the pandemic than non-binary and cisgender participants.  These experiences affected participants’ ability to pay for housing, groceries, and other essential needs.

LGBTQ Southerners across the board report a decline in physical health and an increase in stress. The impact was greater for trans and non-binary participants who were more likely to report a disruption in healthcare or an inability to access necessary prescription medications. Trans and non-binary participants indicated higher scores of depression and anxiety and were also more likely to report loss of social support.

Gender Benders Research

There is not enough research that exists about trans folks and the barriers we face in the South. Gender Benders is proud to engage in community-based research that specifically speaks to the needs and best ways to better serve our community. We do this independently and have also partnered with folks like our friends at Campaign for Southern Equality to support some of their community-based research efforts.

Check out CSE’s research reports here, and check back here for the latest on Gender Benders research projects. Please feel free to reach out if you have questions about trans and queer research in the South.

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Educational Programs

We’re happy to provide several Educational Programs at Gender Benders in collaboration with our friends at Campaign for Southern Equality. These are two of our most popular programs. We’re also happy to chat about your specific needs.

Trans 101

What Everyone Needs to Know about Working with Transgender People

90 minutes, No prerequisites

What to expect:

Trans 201

Advanced Training in Working with Transgender People

90 minutes
Prerequisite: Trans 101

What to expect

Political Advocacy

We’re proud to be members of the steering committee in the SC United for Justice and Equality Coalition in addition to engaging in advocacy work to help create safer communities for our people.

Connection to resources

The South, especially the rural South, is in many ways a resource desert for trans people. Gender Benders is committed to helping connect our people with the resources we need to lead full and healthy lives. Some ways we do this include assisting with name changes, providing referrals for HIV testing, providing resources to help connect with medical and legal service providers, providing direct service pop up clinics, providing harm reduction supplies for our houseless friends, and more. Please reach out if we can be of assistance.