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MPA SD Supports International Students

The Student Division of the Minnesota Psychological Association supports college students irrespective of their status as guests or residents in the United States. We find the recent policy announcements of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) and support from the White House to be capricious, arbitrary, and morally abhorrent. Unfortunately, this is only the most recent in what has been a despicable series of outrages perpetrated against minorities and the disenfranchised by the Trump Administration. We wholly condemn this vile action and name it for what it is: Discriminatory policy founded on a racist ideology. The MPA Student Division calls on every college in the State of Minnesota to explore and devise options to ensure the rights of international students to complete their courses of study unimpeded and free of systemic harassment.

We call on colleges to openly condemn the actions of ICE and be vocal in their support for their international students. We urge your institutions to provide outreach and counseling support services to students who are now suffering distress, uncertainty, and fear. We recognize and praise the efforts of the University of Minnesota, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas, and other colleges that have already taken the first steps in this regard. As an organization, the Student Division stands with international students and welcomes any efforts to coordinate advocacy and planning.

The Student Division would like to hear from any international students and their peers whom have been affected by this recent action. You will be heard. You are not alone.


Quincy Guinadi and David Van Engen

Student Division Co-Chairs, Minnesota Psychological Association

www.mnpsych.org

www.mpastudentdivision.org

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I can’t believe we have to say this… but trans people deserve healthcare!

By Milo Due & Quincy Guinadi

Credit: ACLU

On Friday, June 12, the Department of Health and Human Services finalized a decision to eliminate federal protections for transgender patients to prevent discrimination by healthcare providers including doctors, health insurers, and hospitals—protections that have been tirelessly fought for by generations of LGBTQAIGNC+ activists. In this decision, the Trump administration redefined sex discrimination as “only applying when someone faces discrimination for being female or male, and does not protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

What does this mean for transgender patients? Simply put, this rule would allow healthcare providers to refuse services and treatment to transgender patients IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC. To pour salt in the wound, this rule was finalized during Pride month, on the anniversary of the massacre at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, which resulted in 49 deaths. Again, we can’t believe we have to say this – Transgender people deserve the basic human right to receive healthcare without discrimination!

As psychology students, we know just how detrimental this decision will be to trans health. Transgender individuals have long faced barriers to quality healthcare that are both personal (such as providers’ attitudes towards trans people) and structural (such as lack of insurance coverage for gender-affirming care). In a 2011 survey of over 6000 transgender individuals, 19% report having been being denied healthcare because of their trans identity. In a 2015 NPR poll, a third of trans individuals in the U.S. reported they did not have access to regular healthcare.

The perhaps even more insidious public health threat from this most recent decision is widespread fear, which may cause more trans people to disengage from the healthcare system entirely, going without necessary care until treatable conditions become medical emergencies. The 2011 survey cited above revealed this is already taking place: 28% of trans respondents reported postponing necessary healthcare when sick or injured, and 33% had delayed or not sought preventative care because of fear of discrimination. Nor is this fear unfounded: the reality that trans people now live with every day is that our government is actively trying to kill us. Stripping anti-discrimination protections during a pandemic is tantamount to murder, when trans individuals might forgo COVID testing for fear of discrimination, and are in danger of being left to die by medical professionals who hold personal biases.

And providers who hold these biases have just been authorized to act on them by the highest office in the land. Remember that 19% of trans people reported being denied needed healthcare for being trans. This decision will come down hardest on Black and indigenous trans people, who, by virtue of their positionalities vis-à-vis structural racism, are already at higher risk of severe complications or death from COVID-19.

The executive vice president of the Christian Medical Association, one of the groups who pushed for this decision, lauded the change, stating healthcare professionals must base decisions on “biology and science, not ideology” (quoted by NPR, June 12, 2020). Fair enough! Let’s look at what science does have to say about transgender healthcare:

The science says that experiences of discrimination have detrimental effects on the mental health and mental healthcare utilization of LGBTQ individuals.

The science tells us that social stress, transphobia, stigma, and discrimination are all positively associated with mental health problems.

We know that lack of access to healthcare providers who are adequately knowledgeable about transgender health is the most common barrier to healthcare reported by transgender survey respondents, and that transgender populations experience significant health disparities.

And the science says that having access to a trans-competent healthcare provider decreases depression and suicidality among trans people.

In other words, nowhere in the scientific literature is there support for denying care to transgender patients. Our healthcare needs—and our existence—are not matters of ideology.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted two truths: (1) that we are all intimately interconnected (such that our behaviors impact the health of others, and we therefore have a responsibility to one another to keep each other safe); and (2) that deep racial inequities in our country and state have a dramatic effect on health outcomes. Taken together, these truths suggest that our healthcare system is only as good as its ability to serve the most marginalized among us.

While none of us can take on Trump directly (and this decision will be legally challenged), as future health service providers, we can start right away in improving trans healthcare by educating ourselves on issues that affect trans health. We can speak up against transphobia in our homes, neighborhoods, classrooms, workplaces, and practicum and internship sites. We can read, listen to, and uplift the voices of trans people, especially Black and Indigenous trans folks. We can unlearn the ways in which we ourselves have internalized cissexism and rethink binary notions of gender.

It’s not all bad news in the land of transgender civil rights. Yesterday, tens of thousands of people gathered in Minneapolis, Brooklyn, and other cities to uplift Black trans voices and demand an end to violence against Black trans women. The trans-led NYC organization GLITS raised over a million dollars over the past week for housing for formerly incarcerated Black trans folks, and are now able to put a down payment on two Manhattan apartment buildings. And today the supreme court ruled that existing protections against sex discrimination also apply to LGBTQAIGNC+ folks, making firing someone for being trans illegal in all 50 states. Still, my social media feed is awash with posts from trans folks who had experienced employment discrimination in states where it was already illegal.

Addressing a crowd of several thousand people who turned out to a march organized by Black Visions Collective to demand the city of Minneapolis defund its police department, Representative Ilhan Omar reminded us that in the fight for social justice, each step forward triggers a wave of backlash: “with each progress, there is regression.” This regression will always most severely impact those who are already the most vulnerable to discrimination and state violence. What the Trump administration is currently doing is waging war on transgender people by attempting to legally define us out of existence, while leaving our BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) siblings to die. There is much work that remains to be done.


Projects and organizations that support & advocate for the transgender community:

Local Resources –

  • Trans* Awareness Project MN: A list of resources and organizations for trans-identified folks in the Twin Cities area. 
  • MN Transgender Health Coalition: The Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition is committed to improving health care access and the quality of health care received by trans and gender nonconforming people through education, resources, and advocacy. 

National Resources –

  • Trans Lifeline (877-565-8860): Peer support service run by trans people, for trans and questioning callers.
  • The Okra Project: The Okra Project is a collective that seeks to address the global crisis faced by Black Trans people by bringing home cooked, healthy, and culturally specific meals and resources to Black Trans People wherever we can reach them. 
  • The National Center for Transgender Equality: Provides information on advocacy at the national, state, and local level. They also offer information on transgender peoples’ rights and legal protections across various areas of life. 
  • The Transgender Law Center: Largest trans-led organization advocating self-determination and community-driven strategies to keep transgender and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for liberation.

Milo Due (they/them) holds a Master’s degree in psychology from the New School for Social Research in NYC, where they worked as a sex educator and studied the therapeutic alliance. As a current PsyD student at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, they are passionate about improving access to competent and affirming mental health care for queer and trans communities and exploring the ways in which the practice of counseling psychology can advance social justice.

MPA Statement on the Death of George Floyd

The Minnesota Psychological Association seeks to add to the voices recognizing the horror and injustice of the death of George Floyd and see this unjustified killing as an act of racism that may eventually be classified as a hate crime. We realize that there is an increase in the presence of racism, hate and discrimination in our society and that the Dept. of Justice has identified that the majority of hate crimes (59.9 percent) continue to be those around the issue of race/ethnicity/ancestry. Of the hate crimes around race, most are against African Americans. African Americans also experience the most incidents of discrimination and become the victims of “mentalcide,” the psychological process of treating them as “less than human.” Consequently, African Americans have endured the brunt of inhumane treatment by law enforcement officers in our country.

Our research shows that police officers speak with consistently less respect toward black versus white community members and invariably, African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at a rate that is 10 times the imprisonment of whites, and are more likely to die at the hands of law enforcement than their White counterparts, even if they are unarmed.

The impact of these injustices in the name of law enforcement must be viewed in light of historical trauma for the African American community as well as the future implications of long lasting psychological, emotional and physical distress. The compounded effects of direct and vicarious dehumanization, historical trauma, microaggressions, invisibility, intersectional oppression, and discrimination create biological markers similar to physical assault6 and may contribute to a level of racial trauma that can be life threatening.

Furthermore, Anxiety, Depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are some of the mental health disorders that follow individuals who bear witness to this kind of inequity and brutality. Let’s not forget the implications for our children, who stand to have difficulties with concentration, learning, sleep, and generally feeling unsafe in their own homes and communities. Those of us who witnessed George Floyd taking his last breath, as he yelled “I can’t breathe,” are left to make sense of his demise.

The Minnesota Psychological Association supports George Floyd’s right to breathe in the state of Minnesota. We recognize that if George Floyd and communities of color cannot breathe in our state, it is an injustice that we must confront. In accordance with the 2017 APA Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct, psychologists strive to avoid harm and to uphold the dignity and worth of all individuals. The Minnesota Psychological Association would like to add our voices to others recognizing the brutality of this unjustifiable act. We encourage the Minnesota community to stand together in processing the residual effects of this event on our psyche.

We stand in support of Minneapolis Police Chief Arredondo, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell, and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter for their swift and decisive response to the four police officers involved in the incident. We stand in support of, and solidarity with, the Minneapolis community in their effort to seek justice for George Floyd. We stand in support of the close examination and reform of racial bias and police brutality in the Minneapolis Police Department.

References:
1. U.S. Dept. of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Criminal Justice information.2012, Retrieved (https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime).

2. Chou, T., Asnaani, A., & Hofmann, S. G. (2012). Perception of racial discrimination and psychopathology across three U.S. ethnic minority groups. Cultural diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology, 18(1), 74–81.

3. Goff, P. A., Eberhardt, J. L., Williams, M. J., & Jackson, M. C. (2008). Not Yet Human: Implicit Knowledge, Historical Dehumanization, and Contemporary Consequences, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 94, No. 2, 292–306.

4. Edwards, F., Lee, H., & Esposito, M. (2019). Risk of being killed by police use of force in the United States by age, race–ethnicity, and sex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 116 (34) 16793-16798.

5. Swaine, J., Laughland, O. & Lartey, J. (2015) Black Americans killed by police twice as likely to be unarmed as white people. The Guardian, Retrieved at 05.28.2020 https://www.theguardian.com/…/black-americans-killed-by-pol…).

6. Eisenberger, N. I., Lieberman, M. D., & Williams, K.D. (2003). Does rejection hurt? An fMRI study of social exclusion. Science, 302, 290–292. doi:10.1126/science.1089134.

7. Helms, J., Nicolas, G., & Green, C. E. (2012). Racism and ethnoviolence as trauma: Enhancing professional and research training. Traumatology, 8, 65-74.

Grief from the Perspective of an International Student

By Quincy Guinadi

I have never resonated with a gif so much more than this one:

When the US began having a huge increase in COVID19 cases and states began to instate stay-at-home orders, a collective grief and loss of our livelihood was immediately felt. I remember noticing an influx of podcasts and articles on collective grief and naming the loss of a way of existence. I also noticed an increase of folks on my facebook wall mourning the loss of comfort, stability, and control over their future. I resonated with how they felt, but this wasn’t a new feeling. I had a déjà vu moment and realized that as an international student, this was not the first time I experienced the loss of a way of existence.

I grieved for my newly found community when I struggled to find a company to sponsor my work visa and had to go back home. I grieved for my safety and future when I returned to the United States for my Master’s program the year Trump got elected. I grieved for the ability to feel welcomed and safe as racial tensions grew in the United States. I grieved for any sense of stability and the freedom to visit my friends and family back at home when the executive order for an immigration halt recently took place.

Grieving for a way of life is not new to international students.

International students are often kept on their toes from having to constantly keep up-to-date about immigration and visa changes. These changes largely impact our financial, career, and educational future. Yet, we have zero voting abilities or control over the decisions made that would change our course in life. When I got furloughed from my on-campus job, I went into a frenzy. How was I going to afford groceries? How was I going to afford rent? Do I burden my family by asking them for money? Do I qualify for unemployment as an alien? In my moment of desperation, I drafted an email to my school’s president begging him to consider the work restrictions international students have and to provide some sort of financial aid. My desperation paid off and my school decided to continue to provide international student workers with financial aid. In that moment, I grieved for a sense of stability.

Back to that gif — I often feel that as an international student, I am not allowed to complain about my grief and losses. I often feel that I am expected to be compliant and readily agree to any changes made. Comments like “well you chose to come here for an education” or “If you don’t like it, then go home” invalidates my pain.

In times when I feel out of control, I like to think “what would I tell a client?” Most of the time, my go-to advice would be to (1) acknowledge the grief and pain you’re experiencing, (2) go to safe spaces and people that you know can support and respect your feelings, and (3) practice self-compassion and gratitude despite the hardships.

If you are an international student reading this, know that you are never alone and you are allowed to have feelings! I always turn to my Students of Color Support Group in my school as a safe space to express my grief and pain. Reaching out to other international students within your program, school, or state are helpful too! If you are an APA member, the international section of Division 17 recently started hosting zoom check-ins for international students. Also feel me to reach out to me!

If you are a local student reading this, I encourage you to check in on your international friends. If you have the capacity to hold a safe space for them, offer it to them.