Category: Uncategorized

Standing in Solidarity with our Black Peers & Community Members

By Quincy Guinadi & David Van Engen

Today marks the start of Derek Chauvin’s murder trial, one of the four police officers responsible for the unjustifiable killing of George Floyd. As we speak, the city of Minneapolis has responded in preparation to this trial by building barricades and increasing the presence of law enforcement. This was not a sight that eases the mind and soul about the expectations of this trial. The folks at George Floyd Square recently requested that the space be reserved as a sacred for place Black grief and healing.

As student division chairs, who also identify as BIPOC students, we would like to acknowledge the emotional burden and toll of racism on our fellow Black peers. We empathize, grieve, and share the exhaustion of witnessing and experiencing racial injustice. An overwhelming body of research demonstrates that persistent experiences of racism are associated with deleterious effects on mental and physical health (Anderson, 2016). As graduate students, we have utilized the student of color groups in our schools as a safe space to receive and provide support to other BIPOC students. These are powerful spaces for healing and dialogue. We encourage our fellow BIPOC peers to seek out and utilize safe spaces unburdened by discrimination and White supremacy. If your school does not provide an adequate space for you, please reach out to us at studentdivisionmpa@gmail.com. We will stand with you.

For our non-BIPOC students and allies, we encourage you to consider how to use your power and privilege to educate and advocate for those affected by racial injustice and issues of equity. This article is a great place to begin a dialogue and take steps toward demanding a fair trial to hold those in power and in law enforcement accountable for their actions. Another great resource to explore and reflect on your own racial identity and power is “The Racial Healing Handbook: Practical Activities to Help You Challenge Privilege, Confront Systemic Racism, and Engage in Collective Healing” by Dr. Anneliese Singh, PhD, LPC.

As we brace ourselves for the trial that is expected to last 3-4 weeks, we stand in solidarity and support of our Black friends and community members. We demand justice and a fair trial to honor the pain George Floyd’s family had to endure as well as the anguish those families and communities affected by the loss of loved ones at the hands of injustice and police brutality. The NAACP said it well: “George Floyd was taken from us viciously, inexplicably, and inhumanely. Derek Chauvin is on trial to tell his side of the story. A luxury that was not afforded to George Floyd and countless other men and women within the Black community.”

Navigating the Collegiate Atmosphere as a First-Generation Student

By Linda Zheng & Dakota Leget

As a first-generation college student, it’s easy to feel disadvantaged or overwhelmed going into and throughout your college career. If you compare yourself to your peers, you may feel “behind” – perhaps in terms of professional, academic, and financial resources. This is a common experience for first-generation students, especially as many also identify with other disadvantaged groups (e.g., low socioeconomic status, underserved, underrepresented; Choy, 2001). We, like some of you, resonated with these feelings. Although there are obstacles as a first-generation student, there are also resources to help you navigate your college experience and upsides to embracing your first-generation college student status.

It’s common to be a first-generation student.

In terms of undergraduate students: The Center for First-Generation Student Success reports data from the 2015-16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study which found that 56% of undergraduates nationally were first-generation college students, and 59% of these students were also the first sibling in the family to go to college!

Utilize services and resources to your advantage

There are organizations and programs to help you achieve success. Some common ones include Federal Work-Study and TRIO Programs (e.g., McNair Scholars Program, Student Support Services). First-generation students are often disproportionately lower-income than continuing-generation students (Tym et al., 2004). In our experiences, on-campus jobs were a great experience and allowed us flexibility with school commitments. Your college may also have other organizations and programs, such as a first-generation college students’ organization, which may facilitate friendships and normalize your feelings and experiences.

Asking for help demonstrates initiative

Another vital aspect of academic and professional success includes mentorship. Mentors can come in all forms—academic advisors, professors, bosses, and even other students. First-generation students may feel overwhelmed about how to achieve academic and professional success, especially due to feeling a lack of professional connections or lack of knowledge on how college “works”. Mentorship is important because it creates professional relationships and networking opportunities to prepare for your career. Often, mentors can offer invaluable insight into this process and aid first-generation students in forming professional connections. Though it may seem intimidating, sit down with an academic advisor and ask them about how you can prepare for your career—including activities outside of school (e.g., research, internships). Mentorship increases preparedness for your next step; it also helps you build strong professional relationships. Mentors may know of opportunities or positions they can connect you with once they know your long-term goals. We feel that asking for help or advice demonstrates initiative and courage. Whether you are in your graduate, undergraduate, or professional career, you will benefit from developing a relationship with someone you can consider a mentor.

Ultimately, we are thankful for being first-generation students. Our bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees (in-process) feel bigger than just us. They represent our parents’ struggles and sacrifices to offer us more opportunities; these serve as inspiration and motivation in our academic and professional pursuits. Being a first-generation college student comes with additional obstacles. However, it can also lead to greater appreciation and value for higher education. It’s easy to feel disadvantaged when entering college as a first-generation student; you are not alone. There are other students in your position, mentors by your side, and programs designed to help you achieve success. As Dr. Abdul Kalam once said, “If you fail, never give up because F.A.I.L. means ‘First Attempt In Learning’.”

We would love to hear about how you embrace your first-generation student status!

References

Choy, S. (2001). Students whose parents did not go to college: Postsecondary access, persistence, and attainment (NCES 2001-126). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.

Martin Lohfink, M., & Paulsen, M. B. (2005). Comparing the determinants of persistence for first-generation and continuing-generation students. Journal of College Student Development, 46, 409–428.

Tym, C., McMillion, R., Barone, S., & Webster, J. (2004). First-generation college students: A literature review. Round Rock, TX: Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation.


Linda Zheng (she/her) is a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Psychological Science program (Clinical-Counseling track) at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Her current interests include interpersonal violence, trauma, and mind-body interventions. She is currently leading a research project examining maladaptive interpersonal schemas and coping responses in children receiving services at a community child advocacy center. In the future, she desires to work with underserved, underrepresented, and economically disadvantaged individuals.

Dakota Leget (she/her) is a first-year graduate student in the University of Minnesota Duluth Master of Arts in Psychological Science program (Clinical-Counseling track). She is dedicated to building a more inclusive future for heavier-weighted folks which is why her research interests include weight stigma, internalized weight bias, coping, and self-determination theory. In addition to research and studies, Dakota enjoys staying active, reading, cooking, advocating for equity, and cuddling with her cat, Poppers. Dakota’s future career goals include working with individuals with eating disorders, people with trauma, and members of the LGBTPQIA+ community.

New MPA opportunities!

  1. The MPA Ethics Committee is looking to increase our student membership!  Are you looking to increase your knowledge and gain experience regarding ethics consultation and build connections with other psychologists and students?  If so, then please submit a brief statement about why you would like to be a part of the MPA Ethics Committee and submit it to Dr. Catherine Cronmeyer, catcronemeyer@gmail.com

2. The Minnesota Psychological Association would like to invite you to join the MPA Diversity Book Club. We meet every two months and are currently on our third book: So You Want To Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo.

Our next event is Thursday, January 21st. Our meetings are friendly and casual; most of us read the books but finishing (or even starting) them is not required. All that’s necessary is a desire to learn and participate. We have members from around the state and who use a wide variety of modalities, and we have some great discussions.

If you are interested, you can sign up here. If you have questions, feel free to email David Nathan at gdavid.nathan@gmail.com. Take care!

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.