After a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trans Support Day returned in 2023 with an inspiring event hosted by Syracuse University’s Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) Trans Team.
More than 250 people–including individuals, couples, parents, and children–attended Trans Support Day in April 2023, and organizer Tristan Martin, Ph.D., LMFT, CST, says the Trans Team is looking to top last year’s turnout at the 2024 event. This year’s Trans Support Day will be held from noon to 4 p.m. March 23 at Peck Hall, 601 E. Genesee St., Syracuse, just north of the Syracuse University campus. The event is free and open to the public.
“I feel like it’s going to be a really powerful community event like it was last year,” says Martin, an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. “This event offers a space filled with hope, positivity, and community support.”
Attendees at this year’s Trans Support Day will have the opportunity to connect with local trans-affirming providers and resources; receive name and gender marker legal support; access free clothing and makeup; get free services from hair, nail, and makeup artists; access trans-affirming products; receive therapeutic support for parents of trans youth; and have a space for youth to connect.
As a new feature, the Trans Team has invited two world-renowned local surgeons to share their expertise with attendees interested in gender-affirming surgery. Other guests will include post-surgical providers from Upstate University Hospital’s Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Program and Hand Rehabilitation Program, and representatives from Sage Upstate, a not-for-profit organization that promotes the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning people in Central New York as they age.
Martin says events such as Trans Support Day are more important than ever as members of the trans community experience societal and legislative discrimination in the United States. According to the Trans Legislation Tracker, 342 bills in 36 states have been introduced seeking to block trans people from receiving basic healthcare, education, legal recognition, and the right to publicly exist. Several similar bills were signed into law in 2023.
New York is one of a handful of states where no anti-trans bills have been passed. But accessing resources such as the ones that will be available at Trans Support Day remains an issue for trans people everywhere.
“In my clinical practice I connect with other therapists, and we often collaborate with other local resources and providers,” Martin says. “However, I learned that often clients are not aware of these services and allies available to them in Syracuse.
“I wanted to create an event that brought everyone together in one room,” Martin adds. “Although we have different expertise and resources, we all have one common goal, to improve the wellbeing and support the transgender community.”
Marriage and Family Therapy Associate Professor Deborah Coolhart, Ph.D., LMFT, founded the Trans Team in 2004. The team is part of the Syracuse University Couple and Family Therapy Center in Peck Hall, and students on the team receive specialized training to provide gender-affirmative therapy for transgender people and their families and assist in the readiness process for medical gender transition.
Coolhart says the 2023 Trans Support Day was a huge success thanks to the leadership and efforts of Martin and marriage and family therapy students, faculty, and staff. In the previous Trans Support Day in 2019, the attendance was 40 people, so the event is growing significantly and assisting more members of the trans community.
“The current political landscape for trans folks is threatening and scary, making this event so necessary and special,” Coolhart said after last year’s event. “In a world that often does not welcome trans people, I could see on the faces of the guests the gratitude, validation, and support they felt having a space that was celebrating them and connecting them to the resources they need.”
The Department of Marriage and Family Therapy prepares students to work with marginalized populations, at-risk youth, and the LGBQ and Transgender communities. In the Couple and Family Therapy Center, marriage and family therapy students gain supervised, hands-on clinical experience while providing free therapy services to families, couples, and individuals across Central New York.