Home' South Florida Gay News : SFGN 120915 Contents 26 • 12.9.2015
While being a transgender person in
society is an intimate experience
with hardships only truly known
by those living as trans, it may sometimes put
families, friends, and loved ones of someone
living or transitioning in uncomfortable and
Atticus Ranck of
SunServe, a nonprofit
dedicated to social justice
and equality in Wilton
Manors, hopes that the
Family, Significant Others,
and Allies, or SOFFA,
support group for trans
people will bridge the gap
families so often have in
Trans relationships and
"There's a lot of stigma
and discrimination that
people who love someone
trans faces, and they don't always know the
best way to help them, the best things to say,
who to go to, who to talk to about how to
support them," said Ranck, who notes that
in addition to all the struggles and rights
battles trans individuals face there needs to
be support for the families coming to terms
with or fighting for them too.
"We kind of forgot about all the hardships
that it means to love someone who's trans.
It's a revolutionary act," said Ranck.
While SOFFA has existed in other cities
and states, it is the first support
group like this in the area.
"Sometimes clients who
are transgender would ask a
therapist, 'you think I could
bring my mom in or my girlfriend
in and we could have a session
together?' And so it kind of
started like that," said Ranck,
"and so all the mental health
therapists at SunServe were like,
'well maybe we need something
for the parents.'"
SOFFA's support for parents
and ensuing community outreach
is particularly prominent when
parents of trans children, some
ages 5 and 6, come to the group.
Gender identity is realized in
early childhood, so the support system
created when group leaders consensually
exchange information has helped answer
questions as more and more underage trans
individuals begin living true to identity with
the progression of trans visibility.
"You see these relationships start to form
because they're in the same boat and it's not
something a lot of people will understand,"
Ranck said. "There's a lot of judgement from
other parents to these parents. Especially
the young ones."
So that's why SOFFA needed -- to focus on
a trans person's significant others.
The group will have meetings in which the
members break up into groups of parents
and groups of partners. Ranck notes the
differences faced by each relationship as
those with trans children face hormonal
questions and distinguishing youth and
teenage behavior between the set of issues
specific to trans youth.
Those members that are loved ones of
someone who's trans will speak out about
dating and sex, sharing what it's like to
date a trans person in light of society and in
coming out to their own loved ones about
Besides a network of emotional strength,
SOFFA provides direction for logistics of
trans support as well. If clients are in need
of legal services, need recommendation
for hormone replacement therapy, gender
marker changes, and focusing on the
housing and employment violations faced
by Trans individuals.
SOFFA also focuses on the educational
aspect of transgender rights and eliminating
some of the misconceptions and stereotypes
the community faces as national discussions
about trans existence begin to happen and
the nation wakes up to the intersectionality
of gender identity, sexual orientation, and
gender expression. Although South Florida
is described as accepting of unconventional
lifestyles, with Human Rights Campaign's
documented deaths from Transgender
violence as nearby as Miami, it's a discussion
SOFFA is starting at home.
"We meet anyone where they are, so it's
not like you come to SOFFA and you have to
be completely accepting in order to come to
SOFFA," Ranck said. "You can come to SOFFA
and if you are really struggling with loving
your kid because they're trans and you don't
understand and you hate it or you really like
someone who's Trans but you don't know if
you can get over that, you can be in any stage
of acceptance in order to come to SOFFA. It's
not like you're gonna be shunned because
you're not 100 percent loving right away."
SUNSERVE OFFERS SUPPORT FOR FRIENDS
AND FAMILY OF TRANS FOLKS
like you come
to SOFFA and
you have to
order to come
- Atticus Ranck
SOFFA meets the second and fourth Saturday of
every month from 10 a.m. to noon at SunServe
North 2312 Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors.
Visit SunServe.org, email email@example.com or
call 954-764-5150 for more information.
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