Since May 25th, 2020, we at SAIGE have been outraged by the brutal murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and by the attacks on protestors by police. We are continually outraged by the culture of white supremacy that exists in our country. We believe silence is not an option. On May 31st, 2020, we released a Presidential Response and we endorsed ACA’s Response to Undue Police Violence.
And we got it wrong.
We want to express gratitude that the ACA responded quickly, because silence is complacency. After the statements went out, a few things happened. First, we heard from our members. Although we heard positive feedback about our presidential call for social justice action, we heard critical feedback on ACA’s statement that we endorsed. We stepped back, reread the statement, and listened to our members and board members' views. We sat with it, and we are here working in full transparency to do better. We discussed our concerns with ACA leadership and are now working collaboratively with them on these concerns at the national level, while we share with our members our position within our division.
As we navigate our intersectional lives and experience, we can miss not only our own internalized hidden biases, but it can individually and collectively cause us to not listen to voices of dissent. I have immense gratitude for those who stepped forward and pushed us to be better and to do better. I also have deep gratitude to our Board who listened, reflected, and recognized that we could do better. It is one thing to promote a mission in word, it is another thing entirely to live and breathe our mission and values in practice. I am so very proud to be part of an organization that does exactly that.
In Solidarity on Juneteenth,
Hello, SAIGE Members! As part of the event last night, I was asked to share some reflections on behalf of SAIGE. I wanted to share them with all of our members who could not make it to the I Need a Minute event.
The month of June is usually a time of reflection and celebration for Queer and Trans people and our allies. We celebrate who we are, how far we have come, and spend time in community with those who see us and love us. But our freedom, our celebration, our pride came from a riot and a revolution.
I want to take this moment to tell you about one of the central figures in our own Queer Civil Rights movement, Marsha P. Johnson. As a Black drag queen who was gender expansive, she was part of the Stonewall Uprising – the riot that took place on June 28, 1969, and was focused against continuing police oppression and brutality. This movement served as the turning point in our fight for our rights, and is celebrated each year as pride parades around the globe. Along with her close friend, Sylvia Rivera, Marsha spent her life fighting, protesting, supporting, and caring for Queer and Trans people – many who were youth of color who had been kicked out of their homes.
In some of the parades in the early 70s, Marsha was told she could not attend because she was a drag queen. This exclusion of some queer and trans people within our communities is something that many experience to this day – being a person of color, embracing femininity as a man, having a disability, having a bigger size, being trans or gender expansive, having a non-binary affectional or gender identity, among others – they continue to not experience our communities as a safe space to be celebrated. Patriarchy, racism, ableism, weightism, binary prejudice, and cissexism are alive in our communities.
Marsha P. Johnson once said "No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us." Liberation means to look at how these colonized beliefs have become insidious in our personal and collective consciousness, heal these wounds of being devalued and disregarded, listening to people whose life experience comes from a different intersection of identities than we possess, and embracing all people as valuable and important.
COVID-19 may have cancelled our pride celebrations this month, but the spirit of pride can never be cancelled. And what is that spirit? It’s the spirit of resistance, of leadership, of community, of advocacy, of rejecting the colonized beliefs that tell us that any human is less than. Right now, our Black and Brown siblings are – and have continued throughout this country’s history – to suffer oppression and police brutality. Now is the time that as Queer and Trans people, we must unequivocally say, “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” We must stand with our siblings of color, we must protest, we must educate, we must do the work of fighting racism personally and collectively.
Marsha P. Johnson also once said "As long as my people don't have their rights across America, there's no reason for celebration." And I agree. It’s time for a revolution. And SAIGE is with you.
Dear SAIGE Members,
As I write to you today, I know that we are all experiencing the continued injustice and oppression that surrounds us. Trauma and loss are incredibly salient right now. As we care for our clients’ and students’ mental health, we are on our own battlegrounds. We continue to fight anti-LGBTQ legislature in numerous states, as our basic human rights continue to be threatened. COVID-19 is taking away friends and family – and disproportionately so our black and brown siblings and those with health disabilities. We saw our Asian siblings being harassed during this global pandemic. Physical distancing has also taken a toll on our mental health. And in the midst of all of this, we watched another Black sibling, George Floyd, cry out and be murdered by those who are meant to protect us. Days later, we lost another trans sibling of color, Tony McDade, who was misgendered and deadnamed in much of the mainstream media coverage. We are tired. We are angry. We are sad. We are weary.
But, we are not broken. As Queer and Trans people with our allies, we have always been at the forefront of social justice change. As Bayard Rustin fought with Martin Luther King Jr., as Marsha P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera fought at Stonewall, as Mike Petrelis and ACT UP fought for our queer siblings during the HIV crisis, each of us – everyday – fight against the message that we are less than, that we are not of value, that we should not have equal rights. We fight every day to be our authentic selves and to be accepted and celebrated by our families and communities. We are educators, we are counselors and mental health professionals, we are activists and protestors. We love deeply and we fight for ourselves and others.
We are on the precipice of massive social change. But we cannot make these changes, if we do not support each other. Oppression of any person needs to be seen as an oppression of all of us. I have faced my share of oppression and trauma. But, as a light-skinned two-spirited bisexual woman, I have never faced police brutality. But I see and hear my black and brown siblings who experience this every day. I have never faced overt job discrimination and violence for my affectional identity or gender, but I see my trans siblings, especially trans women of color, that face this reality every day. This is not the world that we want – for ourselves or for our children.
As our SAIGE Board voted to adopt ACA’s statement, we processed how we are personally struggling, how we are continuing to fight against this injustice, and supporting each other. My friend Cory Viehl and SAIGE President-Elect said, “We owe it to those lost, those who continue to suffer, to change this.” This statement resonated with my soul – yes, we are tired and sad and worn down. But we do not have to go into this fight alone. We do it together with the spirit of our ancestors who fought against injustice, with the spirit of those who we have lost, and with those living who continue to be oppressed.
So, I am asking all of you – please keep listening to our siblings of color and to those who are experiencing oppression, discrimination and violence. Check in on them. Keep supporting them. Ask them what we can do to help them as individuals. Listen more and do not ask them to help educate you – our siblings of color are in pain – they are not responsible for educating us on how to fight racism within ourselves and with others. Keep educating yourself and others. Look at how racism and discrimination has been built into each of our psyches by society and actively acknowledge and work towards dismantling and healing these biases within ourselves. Stop and disrupt conversations filled with unawareness, ignorance, racism, sexism and cissexism, heterosexism and all of our colonized biases that tell us that certain people are of less value. Keep loving. Keep fighting. Keep protesting. Keep living our legacy as leaders of social justice change.
SAIGE is with you and we see you. SAIGE will support you and fight beside you. We endorse the ACA Statement included below. We are joining with AMCD and CSJ to provide spaces of community, education, and healing for counselors in the upcoming months. Attached is a flyer of an upcoming AMCD webinar being held tomorrow and a statement from CSJ with additional important events. Later in June, our Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC) committee will also be holding a Zoom Meeting to hold space for our QTPOC siblings to connect, process, and receive support from our organization. Our trustee of Multicultural & Social Justice concerns will be reaching out with that information soon. We will also make our members aware of other events as they are planned.
Please continue to take care of yourself and stay connected to us and each other. In our current experiences, I am reminded of this quote by Janet Mock, “Sometimes people try to destroy you, precisely because they recognize your power - not because they don't see it, but because they see it and they don't want it to exist." Recognize the power that you inherently carry in your authentic self that others try to suppress. And use it.
ACA STATEMENT ON UNDUE POLICE VIOLENCE
SAIGE endorses the statement posted by ACA on May 18, 2020 in regards to undue police violence
ACA is committed to promoting counselor competence as it relates to addressing individuals and communities who have been negatively affected by instances of undue police violence and similar racially motivated acts.
The American Counseling Association (ACA) acknowledges the traumatic impact of undue use of violence in policing, racially motivated violent incidents, and implicit bias, characterized by excessive force and negligence. Whereas, we support and value the role of positive law enforcement and ethical policing conducted daily in this occupation, the ACA condemns incidents of undue violence and stands in solidarity with the individuals, families, and communities impacted by such occurrences. Furthermore, the ACA supports the efforts of counselors who counsel and advocate on behalf of those who experienced such encounters.
Undue police violence refers to the use of excessive or disproportionate force that results in physical or psychological harm to others. These incidents may result in a post-traumatic effect that impacts the well-being of individuals and communities. Further, the historical context and trans-generational trauma associated with these incidents may have cumulative effects. While anyone can experience undue police violence, certain racial groups, particularly those identifying as Black or African American, are disproportionately affected by these traumatic occurrences and their resulting aftermath. Professional counselors are called to support affected individuals and populations through trauma-informed and culturally-responsive practice.
The ACA and its members are dedicated to supporting the human rights and wellness of all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, culture, physical ability, age, sexual or affectional identity, religion, nationality, and socioeconomic status. Further, the ACA is committed to promoting counselor competence as it relates to addressing individuals and communities who have been negatively affected by instances of undue police violence and similar racially motivated acts. The ACA stands in solidarity with counselors who serve and support those directly and indirectly affected by instances of violent or negligent policing. Moreover, the ACA encourages its members and all counselors across various settings to engage in professional action, such as clinical practice, community outreach, research, advocacy, and education that supports the wellness of individuals and communities who face violent or negligent policing.
Brooks, M., & Phipps, G. (Eds.). (2019). Counseling African American clients in the era of Black Lives Matter, police brutality, and media stereotypes [Special issue]. Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, 47(3).
Singh, A., & Nassar, S. C. (Eds.). (2020). Integrating the Multicultural and Social Justice Counseling Competencies into practice, research, and advocacy [Special issue]. Journal of Counseling & Development, 98(3). Available Online June 15, 2020.
Lee, C. C. (2018). Counseling for social justice (3rd ed.). American Counseling Association Foundation.
Lee, C. C. (Ed.). (2019). Multicultural issues in counseling: New approaches to diversity (5th ed.). American Counseling Association.
**In addition to these resources provided by ACA, we highly recommend Dr. Annaliese Singh’s book: The Racial Healing Handbook: Practical Activities to Help You Challenge Privilege, Confront Systemic Racism, and Engage in Collective Healing (The Social Justice Handbook Series)
Our Name Change!
As you may be aware, our organization has had a long history of addressing the evolving language of the communities we serve by changing our name. Starting as the Caucus of Gay Counselors, over time we recognized the people we serve as our main focus, and became inclusive of other affectional identities (Lesbian and Bisexual), as well as Transgender people as we changed our name four additional times.
We became the Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Issues in Counseling over 12 years ago; as we all well know, the field of counseling Queer and Trans people, as well as the language describing the communities, has dramatically shifted during this time. We have also moved from fighting for our existence and affirmation to a recognition that as intersectional people, we must work together for our mutual liberation and celebration of our identities. Our new mission and vision for our organization have also guided us in re-evaluating our name to be more inclusive and line with our values.
In response to the changing field and terminology, formal and informal member input, strategic plan committee feedback, and board discussions which have occurred over the last 2 years, and after ACA approval in April 2020, we are very excited to become the official name with our official tagline:
Society for Sexual, Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansive Identities (SAIGE)
We are Counselors and Related Professionals Serving
Sexual, Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansive Communities
We wanted to take a moment to address a few questions that you may have about our new name.
Why did we not include individual identities?
Our mission is to be inclusive of all identities, but even our newly adopted acronym LGBTGEQIAP+ recognizes that it will continue to grow and evolve as the language and identities of those we serve evolves. We wanted to both have a name that would be relevant for as long as possible, as well as lead the way in embracing an umbrella term for the people we serve (SAIGE – referring to those with Sexual, Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansiveness).
As someone whose major identity was also removed from the name (as were the vast majority of those who were on the Board), we discussed this a lot. Many of us expressed deep grief over losing this in lieu of the use of umbrella terms. Gay men, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgender People had to fight continually at great cost for basic acknowledgement, not even acceptance. Although we have made great strides towards equality, as you know, we are a far cry from it and the forefront of this battle is still occurring for our trans siblings. For all of us with these identities, we absolutely know what it is like to be excluded, made invisible, devalued, and ignored – and it hurts more when it comes from one of our own within the Queer and Trans communities.
The use of the umbrella terms was not to erase our 4 identities in any way, it was to include those amongst us who face even more extensive erasure as they are fewer in numbers than those who are LGBT; we heard from so many people that identify as queer, asexual, aromantic, pansexual/polysexual, trans* and trans (those having issue with the term transgender, but identifying as trans), two-spirit, intersex, agender, bigender, genderqueer, as well as our siblings who identify with poly relationships or kink.
Our identities are truly vast; and as someone who is Native and 2-S (two-spirited), I absolutely believe that this is the nature of who we all are – we cannot be contained by any singular label or term. Our identities are infinite. We are blessings to the world and bring awareness to all who reside within it that we do not need to be held within our “boxes” that society has set aside for us. There is absolutely no way that we can create a name that could capture all of our identities, not just because we are vast in diversity, but also because of the nature of who we are – always evolving, expanding, and becoming more ourselves.
With that reality, we needed to focus on what was most inclusive for all of us, and what parameters of our identities connect us as a group. This is not easy, and we have had many heated discussions, disagreements, and lots of "feels" that we carry with us to this day. It came down to what is the nature of our expansiveness – what differences do we carry from “conventional” heterosexual and cisgender people. Our communities carry diversity within sexual, affectional, sex (intersex umbrella), and gender.
Sometimes we identify as divergent in just one, sometimes multiple categories. But the truth is that together we face the impact of misogyny, homoprejudice, cissexism, and colonization – how we choose to react to these ‘isms is within our own control and identities; my hope is that we can recognize our intersectionality, shared interests, and fight together for a better world. And that is what the name is intended to capture – we vary along these dimensions, but we are all united.
Why does the acronym not match the name? Why SAIGE?
The acronym SAIGE was selected to focus on the important piece of our work as an organization: to focus the attention on the people we serve, rather than us as counselors and related professionals. In our discussions, the acronym also had two associations for those of us on the Board.
First, it has the connotation of a sage as a noun, which is a person who has profound inner wisdom. We wanted to be clear that we do not see ourselves as counselors as the sages – competence and specialization with these populations is a continual journey. We therefore see the term sage as associated with part of our liberation work – we seek to provide space for the people we serve to empower themselves and find their inner wisdom as Queer and Trans people.
Second, for our President, as a person with Native American heritage, the name has special significance. To sage as a verb, means to use a sacred healing herb in a ceremony to bless, cleanse, and restore balance. It brings attention to the indigenous wisdom of people of color, as well as to the two-spirit beliefs (an indigenous identity that includes both Queer and Trans Spectrum identities and native ancestry and spirituality). These beliefs, which are now being supported by modern science, indicate that all queer and trans people are inherently gifted with social and emotional skills and resilience, and they are to be celebrated, as their value to the community is vast. To learn more about 2-S identities and their philosophy, you can read here: https://www.ihs.gov/lgbt/health/twospirit/
What do the identity terms mean?
The SAIGE terms indicate underserved populations whose identities include variation in sexual (sexual bonding, attraction, and behavior) and affectional (bonding on all multiple levels, including romantic, emotional, spiritual, psychological). It also includes those who are under the intersex identity umbrella (differences of sex development) and whose gender expands past the simple binary of male and female, including transgender, gender non-binary, and others whose gender is creative. These terms are meant to serve as umbrella terms to capture and be inclusive of all identities across the Queer and Trans spectrum.
We recognize that our new name is not perfect, but we are happy to have a more inclusive name that is in line with our mission and goals. If you have any questions about the name change, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we move forward in our continued struggle and collective community, we are one. We are connected, united, and indivisible. We will resist and persist…together.
Greetings and Vision for 2020
"I've been embraced by a new community. That's what happens when you’re finally honest about who you are; you find others like you."--Chaz Bono
A few days ago, I was asked about the places in my life – throughout my history – where I have felt safe and welcomed. As a person who has multiple intersecting marginalized identities, there are not many. I feel this in the family I have created within my own home – with my spouse and my children. I have also felt this way in ALGBTIC.
As President-Elect for this last year, I have met so many queer and trans counselors and allies, and people who are committed to our communities. They work every day against the biases, misogyny, homoprejudice and cissexism that impacts our culture, our selves, and our clients every day. I have met students, counselor educators, school counselors, clinicians, counselors, and other therapists that are like minded in our mission to not only make our world a safer place, but to celebrate our authentic selves. I have worked with Board Members and Committee members who were welcoming, eager to be inclusive, and ready to face changes that we need as an organization to better meet the needs of our members and our clients.
I am very aware that not all people currently feel a sense of representation, safety, and celebration in our organization. As in our communities at large, racism, transphobia, and a binary worldview can often mean that queer spaces are not always safe for ALL queer and trans people. My vision for our organization is to ensure that we represent, include, and celebrate all of our diverse and intersecting identities.
I believe that uniting our communities, not only aligns us in purpose, it brings us back to our roots of who we truly are – as queer and trans people, we are healers and gifts. When I began to be more connected with my Native ancestry, I learned about two-spirit communities. Native communities, prior to colonization, recognized variant gender and affectional orientation as a blessing to the tribe and would celebrate when they discovered a two-spirit person among them. In indigenous society, we were respected leaders, spiritual advisors, and caretakers of children, elderly, and the infirm. And the world around us needs healing, and needs us, so very much right now.
In this next year, our theme for ALGBTIC will be “Indivisible.” This word to me, in terms of our organization, means that when we become united in purpose, when all of our voices are heard and valued, when we connect with our wisdom keepers, and we revisit our mission and vision for our organization, we will be truly united in purpose.
To accomplish this, we will be completing a strategic plan. A strategic plan will allow us to create the strongest organization possible for all of the community in which we serve. It will allow us to redefine and clarify who we would like to be as an organization, as LGBTQIAPG+ counselors, as allies, as advocates, and as leaders.
In order to do so, I have convened a committee that includes voices that may have not always been heard in our organization: particularly Queer and Trans People of Color, Non-binary Affectional and Gender identities, and Asexual persons. I also want to us to connect to our wisdom keepers, so I have set up an Advisory Board of Past Presidents (our Elders) and have asked our Queer and Trans People of Color Committee to serve as an advisory board for us as well.
I will be reaching out regularly to members to hear your voices, perspectives and wisdom, as we begin to shape ALGBTIC into the organization that represents and celebrates all of us. We have many other exciting changes and new member services on the horizon. I look forward to hearing from you and learn about how we can better meet the needs of our members as an organization.
Thank you all for this opportunity to serve our communities and this organization.
Dr. Misty M. Ginicola
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