4 Questions for a Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Trans & Queer Specialist [Q&A]

Andrew Taylor is a Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and a recent addition to the Gándara team. He started in early September, and he prescribes psychiatric medications to patients across the lifespan. His main area of expertise is working with the trans and queer community, and in addition to prescribing at Gándara, he will help expand the available services for that population at the outpatient clinic.

1. What are the dangers of the Trump Administration’s attempt to classify gender based on anatomy?

It’s hard to know where to begin with this question because of the gravity of damage that would be done if Trump is successful in this endeavor. Gender is by definition NOT based on anatomy. If you are cis-identified, meaning your gender identity coincides with your sex assigned at birth, you may think this definition is accurate, but for trans people across the spectrum, a change in this definition would effectively make the whole community invisible, as it cuts to the core of what trans identity is.

It seems to me that people will be affected by this change in a variety of ways. For the trans kids of the world who are in the contemplative phase of transition, they may be less likely to come forward with essential parts of their identity because the adults around them may refuse to, or not know how to, recognize them. A denial or avoidance of such a central component of identity does long lasting damage to the mind, heart, and body of a child. So often trans people say they always knew their identity to be different from the mainstream, but did not have the language to explain it. If the language is taken away, then what? Kids and adults will then have to rely on the subset of the population still acknowledging this identity as real and valid, and that community may be harder to find.

“If they are hoping we will give up, they should reconsider the power of our persistence and our fury.”

For people of all ages who are already in transition, and who are attempting to change their legal documentation, they will now encounter barriers that will drastically affect the future of their lives. It puts safety at risk when documentation does not line up. Driver’s licenses, state IDs, and passports will not accurately reflect identity, potentially putting safety at risk both inside and outside the bounds of the United States. People may struggle to get married, adopt children, and get basic services, if not all documentation lines up. Healthcare coverage could be in jeopardy if people have some documents changed but not others. The list actually is endless and creates incredible complications for people within this community.

2. What are the dangers of voting no on Question 3, repealing the law allowing individuals to use bathrooms/locker rooms based on identity?

First we need to take a step back here and widen our understanding of this law, what it covers, and what a repeal of the existing law would mean. Opponents call it the “bathroom bill,” but that grossly under-represents the scope of this law, and instead addresses only a tiny portion of what it covers. The law is about Public Accommodations, meaning any and all PUBLIC SPACES. Sure bathrooms and locker rooms are public spaces, but so are hospitals, pharmacies, libraries, highways, public parks, restaurants, bars, banks, any kind of retail shop, gas stations, sports stadiums, concert venues, amusement parks, grocery stores, liquor stores, gyms, coffee shops, ice cream shops, public beaches, tattoo shops, veterinarian clinics, craft stores, hardware stores, etc. A yes on 3 vote continues to ensure protections for trans people in all of those spaces, not simply bathrooms and locker rooms. A no on 3 vote repeals legal protections in all of these spaces and does damage far beyond pulling coverage within restrooms and locker rooms.

But second, it’s also very important to address the fact that a repeal of this law would put a whole group of non trans-identified people at risk as well. Really anyone who does not look like one end of the gender binary or the other would be targeted and policed. For example, someone who was assigned female at birth, and who identifies as a woman, but who dresses in clothing traditionally deemed masculine, she is now at risk as well even though she is a woman using a woman’s restroom. It would be immensely problematic and will continue to jeopardize the safety of the trans population because people, both of authority and not, people will begin to police the use of restrooms in an unproductive and damaging way.

Related: Transgender Governor Candidate Helps Focus Attention on LGBTQI+ Substance Use & Mental Health

It seems opponents are waging the same war that was waged against gay men several decades ago, painting trans people–especially trans women–as predators, pedophiles, and criminals. But not once have opponents mentioned that trans people are far more likely to be the victims of violence in these spaces than the perpetrators. It’s an essential component of this dialogue, and opponents are choosing not to include it at all, which is quite simply, not in keeping with reality.

In moments when I am feeling low, I look at all the people who are supporting ballot question 3 here in Mass. The list of those in support goes on and on, requiring several scrolls through the webpage. There is only one group not in support, and the representation pales in comparison.

Ultimately, my hope would be that those in favor and those opposed could instead focus on our common ground, and work towards societal goals that carry more weight. A focus on policing restrooms is a distraction from much larger issues that this country is dealing with.

3. Why do you think these movements have gained traction?

I think people reflect what they see in leadership and when those actions are backed by a tremendous degree of power, the results can be very dangerous. Perhaps hate was lying dormant, and it has found a home in Trump’s leadership, and since Trump does very little to condone the acts of violence we see escalating in our country, the hate continues. If I were working with a patient who was telling me about this kind of rhetoric, I would not hesitate to call it emotional abuse. It’s destabilizing, and it is creating a traumatized society. And with one of the main symptoms of trauma being anger, it’s not surprising that we see the world around us growing angrier by the day.

4. What advice would you give to the LGBTQI+ community about living happy, healthy lives in a climate that feels increasingly prejudiced towards them?

In the face of trauma, there are several actionable steps that improve outcomes:

  1. Find a community who sees you, validates you, and wholly honors your identity; do not isolate, as it increases depression symptoms.
  2. Keep breathing, keep moving your body, keep drinking water, and do not let your self-care slip by the wayside.
  3. The powers that be are hoping for minority communities to crumble so power can be maintained by the elite few, but we must persist and remember that this is not normal. In addition, if changing legal documentation is part of a person’s transition goals, the time to act is now.
  4. Do not delay, but rather reach out to people who can help.

When I recently heard of the changes attempting to be made to the definition of gender, I read a response piece by Mara Keisling, who is the Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality that I found incredibly helpful. She ends the response with the statement, “If they are hoping we will give up, they should reconsider the power of our persistence and our fury.” That quotation now hangs on the wall next to my desk as a reminder to keep moving forward, and spread as much love and positivity as I can muster.

 

Featured image via Creative Commons/ Ted Eytan (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Por |noviembre 05, 2018|Gándara en las noticias, Noticias, People, Política|Comentarios desactivados on 4 Questions for a Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Trans & Queer Specialist [Q&A]

Regarding a Local News Story on Child Exploitation [Statement]

“We are disappointed that the focus of a local news story shifted so drastically to the misconception that the MGM casino is a hub for child exploitation. Our clinicians were using the casino as one example of potential opportunity to exploit young people. Our aim is to create awareness around an issue that is happening to young people through social media and other online networks much more prominently than in the entertainment settings. We do not consider the situations our experts encounter to be slavery, in fact circumstances are often subtle and manipulative, making it more difficult to identify. We are committed to working with local law enforcement and government agencies to identify warning signs and treat the young victims of commercial sexual exploitation.”

Por |octubre 04, 2018|Gándara en las noticias|Comentarios desactivados on Regarding a Local News Story on Child Exploitation [Statement]

4 Reasons to Start Your Career with Gándara [We’re Hiring!]

The Gándara Center is growing. Fast. In response to the opioid crisis and the increased need for substance use and mental health treatments, our facilities are staffing up. Everyone has been touched in some way by the crisis, so we’re boosting all our efforts to improve the health and safety of our community members and loved ones. Can you empathize and organize? Are you willing to make a lasting positive impact? Can you engage and connect with administrators and community leaders alike? We’re hiring a part-time Marketing and Development Assistant.

If you’re looking for a nonprofit job in addiction and mental health treatment, look no further. Gándara is looking to fill a flexible, part-time position that will have a hand in almost every aspect of our services. We have over 800 employees in facilities across Massachusetts, and with your help we’ll be able to serve every single one of their clients, while, on the administrative end, we’ll be able to connect with foundations, government, and the community at large.

Here are 4 reasons to start your career with Gándara:

1. You’ll Tell Meaningful Stories

The clients we serve all have powerful testimonials about their history with substances use disorder, mental health disorder, and their own pathways to recovery. These people and their stories often inspire others to seek treatment as well. In this position you will play an important role in conveying these stories over social media platforms, email newsletters, blog posts, and in the community. Using communications best practices and marketing analytics, you’ll help us determine the best ways to get our clients’ messages out to those who need them the most.

2. You’ll Help Plan and Participate in Community Events

Gándara prides itself on not only serving the community, but being an active part of it. You’ll actively participate in our pillar events—such as our annual Frozen Yogurt 5K fundraiser, ArtSong reception to provide artistic outlets for youths, and Holyoke Recovery Day to celebrate the recovery efforts of our clients and individuals seeking treatment. We’ll give you responsibilities for helping plan and execute the logistics that make these events possible, and rely on your creative input to help us put together events in response incidents taking place in the moment, like our campaign to support the Puerto Rican community affected by Hurricane Maria.

3. You’ll Have Flexibility

This is an entry-level, part-time position. That means our organization is committed to providing the right candidate an opportunity to expand their resume, take on leadership roles, learn to be proactive instead of reactive, and gain an understanding of how nonprofits operate. We also realize that you may have another job. Or that you may be pursuing an education. Or that you have family obligations. We understand that life is busy and you may be juggling a number of priorities. This position is designed to accommodate your life outside the workplace without sacrificing the chance to gain professional experience. This job is intended to support our substance use and mental health programs, our outreach efforts, and your potential to grow with us.

4. You’ll Give Back to Under-served Populations

Statistically, in terms of occupation, income level, and ethnicity, the Latinx and African-American communities are at a higher risk of developing substance use disorders. We work directly with, and directly on behalf of, these populations and everyone else seeking treatment. As the marketing and development assistant, your work planning events, drafting communication, engaging on social media, and joining communities will make an immediate and direct impression on the people who need it most.

We look forward to evaluating candidates for this job and welcoming someone to our growing team. Learn more about the job description and submit your application today.

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The Gándara Center provides residential, mental health, substance abuse and preventive services for children, adults and families across the Pioneer Valley and eastern parts of Massachusetts. Founded in the Latinx community, we value cultural diversity and strive to provide culturally competent, innovative services to a diverse community.

The Mission of the Gándara Center is to promote the well-being of Latinxs, African-Americans and other culturally diverse populations, through innovative, culturally competent behavioral health, prevention and educational services.

Por |octubre 02, 2018|Eventos, Gándara en las noticias, Noticias|Comentarios desactivados on 4 Reasons to Start Your Career with Gándara [We’re Hiring!]

Gándara in the News: The K2 Mass Overdose in New Haven

On August 16 Western Mass News interviewed Deb Flynn-Gonzalez, program director for Gándara Center’s Hope for Holyoke, about the implications of the mass overdose in New Haven on August 15 and 16. Read the story and view the segment here.

At least 99 people overdosed on or around the New Haven Green after taking K2, a synthetic marijuana, which was suspected to be laced with opioids—and some reports saying PCP. In the following days Hope for Holyoke made sure to talk about the incident with everyone who came in for their recovery sessions.

The story pointed out that since the rash of overdoses made national headlines it had potential to impact people in recovery for addiction. “With a story like this out in the news it can be triggering for people, so it’s important for you to be able to talk about that,” said Flynn Gonzalez.

The story also noted that when news broke Wednesday that there were multiple overdoses in New Haven, the Gándara Center put out a Facebook post detailing K2 overdose symptoms.

Hope for Holyoke

Hope for Holyoke offers free, no-insurance-needed services including relapse prevention and tobacco cessation support groups, social events, access to computers for job readiness/job search activities, and advocacy and recovery coaching. El apoyo también incluye el gobierno de pares, en el que los participantes conforman comités consultivos y realizan reuniones comunitarias para crear políticas, como el código de ética y el código de conducta, y determinan las actividades del programa, como los grupos de apoyo de pares y la participación en ferias de salud, eventos comunitarios y celebraciones y fiestas.

se aceptan todos los caminos de recuperación. Participants must be 18 years of age or older. Los padres pueden llevar a sus niños y adolescentes al centro si siguen la política del centro relacionada con la supervisión y la asistencia. Los miembros que estén bajo los efectos de sustancias o alcohol tienen la oportunidad de realizar un tratamiento, o bien se les pedirá que se retiren y regresen cuando no estén bajo dichos efectos.

Lugar:
100 Suffolk Street
Holyoke, MA 01040
Contacto: (413) 561-1020
Horario:
lunes: de 9 a.m. a 8 p.m.
martes: de 9 a.m. a 5 p.m.
miércoles: de 9 a.m. a 5 p.m.
jueves: de 9 a.m. a 8 p.m.
viernes: de 9 a.m. a 8 p.m.
sábado: de 10 a.m. a 4 p.m.
domingo: de 10 a.m. a 2 p.m.
Derivación:
abierta, por decisión propia.
Sin costo; no es necesario un seguro.
Por |agosto 17, 2018|Gándara en las noticias, Noticias|Comentarios desactivados on Gándara in the News: The K2 Mass Overdose in New Haven

Gándara in the News: Debra Flynn-Gonzalez, Program Director for Hope for Holyoke

On Wednesday, Western Mass News turned to Debra Flynn-Gonzalez, Gándara Center’s Hope for Holyoke Program Director, for expert insight on how stories like celebrity Demi Lovato’s reported overdose hit close to home.

Lovato, who had been sober for six years, relapsed on Tuesday and overdosed. She was treated with the overdose prevention drug  Narcan before being transported to a hospital. Her condition is stable.

“We’re very familiar with her story,” Flynn-Gonzalez said. “As a recovery community we know that relapse is often part of the process of recovery. It’s not a requirement, we know that too.”

Flynn-Gonzalez leads Gándara Center’s Hope for Holyoke, a peer-to-peer support program where the idea of community is vital to pursuing recovery. Substance users often carry feelings of isolation and hopelessness, which can sometimes lead to relapse and overdose. Hope for Holyoke provides a communal environment where users and individuals in recovery can talk with people with similar experiences, who understand the hardships and stigmas that accompany substance use.

“The support from other people and peers,” added Flynn-Gonzalez. “I hope that she and anyone has that in her life so you can talk to people who were in your shoes.”

The Springfield Metropolitan Statistical Area (Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties combined) had 148 confirmed fatal overdoses in 2017. Between 2000-2017, the area had 1,390 fatal overdoses.

You can read the Western Mass News article and watch the video segment online here.

Hope for Holyoke

Hope for Holyoke offers free, no-insurance-needed services including relapse prevention and tobacco cessation support groups, social events, access to computers for job readiness/job search activities, and advocacy and recovery coaching. El apoyo también incluye el gobierno de pares, en el que los participantes conforman comités consultivos y realizan reuniones comunitarias para crear políticas, como el código de ética y el código de conducta, y determinan las actividades del programa, como los grupos de apoyo de pares y la participación en ferias de salud, eventos comunitarios y celebraciones y fiestas.

se aceptan todos los caminos de recuperación. Participants must be 18 years of age or older. Los padres pueden llevar a sus niños y adolescentes al centro si siguen la política del centro relacionada con la supervisión y la asistencia. Los miembros que estén bajo los efectos de sustancias o alcohol tienen la oportunidad de realizar un tratamiento, o bien se les pedirá que se retiren y regresen cuando no estén bajo dichos efectos.

Lugar:
100 Suffolk Street
Holyoke, MA 01040
Contacto: (413) 561-1020
Horario:
lunes: de 9 a.m. a 8 p.m.
martes: de 9 a.m. a 5 p.m.
miércoles: de 9 a.m. a 5 p.m.
jueves: de 9 a.m. a 8 p.m.
viernes: de 9 a.m. a 8 p.m.
sábado: de 10 a.m. a 4 p.m.
domingo: de 10 a.m. a 2 p.m.
Derivación:
abierta, por decisión propia.
Sin costo; no es necesario un seguro.
Por |julio 26, 2018|Eventos, Gándara en las noticias, Noticias|Comentarios desactivados on Gándara in the News: Debra Flynn-Gonzalez, Program Director for Hope for Holyoke
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