Social Distancing FAQs for College Students

Social distancing is the idea of actively avoiding crowds to slow the spread of illness. Specifically, the CDC asks us to cancel any activity of more than 50 people and only hold a gathering of smaller size if you can ensure hand hygiene practices and that people keep at least 6 feet away from others. They want us to do this for at least the next 8 weeks.

The CDC is asking you – yup, you (and me too!) – to stay away from folks. We realize that is easier said than done, and still likely leaves some questions.

Please don’t. If you ignore the guidance on social distancing, you will essentially put yourself and everyone else at much higher risk.

You still have a risk from Coronavirus, even as a young person.

Plus the community needs your help in slowing the virus. People who show only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all can pass the virus to many, many others before they even realize they are sick. So you could infect your older or high-risk loved ones or community members with chronic illness, as well as contribute to the number of overall people infected, causing the pandemic to grow rapidly and overwhelm the healthcare system.

We know social distancing is tough, especially for college students who are used to gathering in groups. But even cutting down the number of gatherings, and the number of people in any group, will help.

Yes.

It’s O.K. to go outdoors for fresh air and exercise — to walk your dog, go for a hike or ride your bicycle, for example. The goal is not to remain indoors, but to avoid being close to people.

You may need to leave the house – for medicines or other essential resources.

There are things you can do to keep yourself and others safe during and after these excursions.

When you do leave home:

  • Wipe down any surfaces you come into contact with
  • Disinfect your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer and avoid touching your face.
  • Frequently wash your hands — especially whenever you come in from outside, before you eat or before you’re in contact with the very old or very young.

Yes. Stock up to minimize the number of trips, and pick a time when the store is least likely to be crowded.

When you do go, remember that any surface inside the store may be contaminated. Use a disinfecting wipe to clean the handle of the grocery cart, for example.

Wearing gloves is not as effective as washing your hands.

Put your phone somewhere in accessible so that you don’t absent-mindedly reach for it while shopping to avoid getting more germs on your phone.

Put hand sanitizer in your vehicle and sanitize when you leave the store.

When you get home, wash your hands right away. Re-wash after putting away your items.

Those at high risk may want to avoid the store if they can help it, especially if they live in densely populated areas. Ask for someone at lower risk to help you by picking up groceries when they go to the store.

Some places have closed down restaurants and bars for the next few weeks, but if you’re not in one of those places, there are not rules about this yet.

In general, avoid going out to restaurants.

If you’re going to go – choose somewhere that has a lot of space and staff you trust who likely practice good hygiene.

Better yet, opt for takeout.

If you’re concerned for the restaurant’s financial future, purchase a gift certificate that you can redeem later.

That depends on how healthy they are.

People who are sick or returning from recent travel should not visit. If you have vulnerable people in your home, limit visitors.

But if everyone in your home is young and healthy, then some careful interaction in small groups is probably OK. The smaller the gathering of healthy people, the lower the risk will be.

Keep checking in with loved ones by phone or plan activities to do with them on video.

We do encourage you to keep active during this time. Bike rides, hikes, walks, outdoor workouts on your own or with only the people who live in the same home as you are all encouraged.

Playing sports or yard games adds risk. You can minimize that risk by:

  • Ensuring that everyone who plans to play is young and healthy
  • There will be less than 10 people
  • Avoid high fives and huddles
  • Wipe down any shared objects (balls, discs, bats) during breaks
  • Have hand sanitizer nearby for everyone’s use
  • Wash your hands immediately afterwards

As of this writing, Campus Rec facilities are open with limited hours. Remember to stay 6 feet away from other people as best you can, wipe down equipment after use, avoid high traffic times and wash your hands afterwards.

Staying in touch with family and friends is more important than ever – just use technology instead of face-to-face interactions. Even imagining a warm embrace from a loved one can calm the body’s fight-or-flight response.

For more tips, see Managing Mental Health During Coronavirus. You can also call CAPS 24/7 at 919-966-3658 for mental health support.

We don’t know and it depends on how well we collectively succeed at social distancing now. Again, current CDC guidelines ask us to do this for 8 weeks.

Social distancing will help “flatten the curve” of the COVID-19 outbreak, thus keeping the number of cases at a level that health care providers can manage and ensuring better care for any infected people. By complying with social distancing guidelines, college students — as well as the rest of the population — can do their part in slowing the spread of the pandemic.

For more details:

UNC’s guidelines to COVID-19 

CDC guidance 

 

Updated 3/17 to reflect clearer guidance on physical activity and restaurant visits

Fall 2019 Finals Events

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Finals period is often a time of survival. All of UNC wants to see you be successful – which is why there are so many initiatives to support your health and wellbeing.

We have compiled all the finals support events and last week of class activities we can find on the UNC Finals Support Google Calendar also in agenda form below.

Plus, you’ll find ongoing stress-busting opportunities at the following libraries:

  • Davis Library– coloring and origami therapy with snacks
  • Health Sciences Library– making festive cards for kids in UNC Hospitals
  • Kenan Science Library– design and modeling center with coloring, Lego, board games, Play-Doh, knitting, and crocheting
  • Music Library– coloring and jigsaw puzzles
  • Park Library– friendship bracelets, giant crossword, inspirational messages, coloring pages, origami, extended hours
  • Sloane Art Library– coloring therapy
  • Stone Center Library – coloring sheets (starting Monday, December 9th)
  • Undergraduate Library– Origami, coloring pages, LEGO, puzzles, knitting and crochet supplies, Lego contest with theme of “space adventure”
  • Wilson Library– jigsaw puzzles

And finals support ideas through the Writing and Learning Centers:

  • Final Exam Planning Tools help you prepare with confidence.
  • Ace Your Essay Exams Find strategies for analyzing the prompt, planning your answer, and drafting efficiently in this handout on Essay Exams.
  • Doh!! How Did I Miss That? Ever spotted mistakes AFTER you’ve turned your paper in? We can help with these well-tested proofreading strategies. Try them all!

Let us know if we’ve missed something!

 

Wellness Checklist for Incoming UNC Students

noun_Checkbox_798260.pngEstablish healthy habits.

  • Schedule physical activity, healthy eating and stress reduction like you schedule your classes. If you schedule it into your day now, you’re less likely to skip it later. Bonus points for adding in social support – like by joining an intramural or club team, or scheduling fun fitness activities with friends.DSC_2340

noun_Checkbox_798260.pngFind and explore spaces to help you stay healthy at UNC.

  • Campus Rec offers 10 facilities that host all kinds of fitness classes, outdoor adventures, team sports and aquatics. You have already paid to access these facilities in your tuition and fees so take full advantage!
  • Dining Services alone has 14 locations across campus, plus there are many options nearby in the community. Look for diverse options and nutrient-dense, yummy food!
  • Campus Health hosts a wide range of services including Sports Medicine, International Travel Clinic, Nutrition Services and more. Counseling and Psychological Services is located in the same facility.

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noun_Checkbox_798260.pngFind local health care. Connect to a primary care provider and pharmacy.

  • You have already paid for services at Campus Health through tuition and fees, so you can come see a provider during the week at no further cost to you! See a full list of services covered by the health fee at campushealth.unc.edu/healthfee.
  • You can also schedule Campus Health appointments when it’s convenient for you online.
  • Campus Health offers same day care visits for urgent needs 7 days a week during the semester (weekend visits have a service charge associated with them that is not covered by the health fee or insurance – but all other days are already paid for with your student fees!).
  • Visit one of the two on-campus pharmacies – Campus Health Pharmacy or Student Stores Pharmacy to get the prescription and over the counter items you need.

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noun_Checkbox_798260.pngMake your mental health a priority.

  • Start making friends! You are now in community with more than 5000 UNC students also new to campus. Some of your soon-to-be lifelong friends are among them.
  • Get involved in campus organizations that interest you. This is one easy way to find people with similar interests.
  • Seek professional help before things get awful – ideally as soon as you start to feel overwhelmed. Initial visits to Counseling and Psychological Services are available Monday – Thursday from 9-12, and 1-4 and Fridays 9:30-12 and 1-4. These have already been paid for in tuition and fees!

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noun_Checkbox_798260.pngGet involved for a better UNC and a better you.

  • Grow your leadership skills, your intellect and your circle of friends by getting involved in something larger than yourself.
  • You can also get involved in health through Student Wellness!
    • Attend a health-related event on campus.
    • Connect with Student Wellness or CAPS to provide education and outreach to your student group.
    • Join a Peer Health Organization.
    • Register for a workshop or training.
    • Visit Student Wellness for resources, a piece of fruit, or cup of coffee. On us!

noun_Checkbox_798260.pngFind a system that works for you.

  • Use a planner or an app to stay organized and proactive about your health and well-being.
  • The Learning Center offers amazing resources including test prep, academic coaching, peer tutoring, workshops and a website full of resources (all at no cost!). Learn more at learningcenter.unc.edu.
  • The Writing Center helps students become stronger, more flexible writers. Work with coaches face-to-face or online at any stage of the writing process, for any kind of writing project. And check out their online resources for tips about many common writing challenges.

We know you want to stay healthy at Carolina, and we are here to help! Reach out if you have questions @UNCHealthyHeels or unchealthyheels@gmail.com.

 

 

Adapted from The Ohio State University

Photos 2 and 3 by UNC Chapel Hill

We’ve got jobs, yes we do! We’ve got jobs, how ’bout you?

We’re hiring! That’s right – YOU. Could work. For us!

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So if you’re into health and wellness  – check out the paid, part-time, temporary paraprofessional staff gigs for the 2017-2018 academic year.  Current open positions (and number available) include:.

For folks with an undergraduate degree:

Program Assistant (7 positions open)

Program Assistant- UNC Men’s Project (1 position open)

Program Assistant- Bystander Education (1 position open)

These positions are ideal for current graduate students in Public Health, Social Work, Psychology, Higher Education, Health Communication, or related fields.  Positions are 15-20 hours per week unless otherwise listed, and anticipated start date is August 7, 2017. To apply please see positions descriptions for links to postings on UNC’s HR website.  Please note that you may need to create an account on this system in order to apply, as it is does not use onyen or PID log in.  Open opportunities require a Bachelor of Arts or Sciences degree from a nationally accredited institution. Graduate degree in progress is preferred, not required.

For folks who will be a UNC undergrad in 2017-2018:

Photography / Videography Intern

This position is ideal for a current or incoming undergraduate student with experience in photography and videography, along with an interest in supporting health and wellness at UNC. This is a shared position between Campus Health Services and Student Wellness. To apply, submit a single pdf with your cover letter, resume, 3 references, and a few links and/or images that showcase your photography/videography work.

 

Other than Salt-n-Pepa, does anybody actually talk openly and honestly about sex?

sexual communicationOther than Salt-n-Pepa, does anybody actually talk openly and honestly about sex? Turns out the answer is YES for Carolina students!  91% of UNC-Chapel Hill first years say they’d communicate with a partner about what they want in a sexual situation.  Now, we know that all first- years are not the same; different groups of students have different attitudes and beliefs. However, interestingly enough this statistic doesn’t change a whole lot across different gender identities, races, and sexual orientations (ranges from 88%-93%).

 

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Alicia Keys Photo by Intel Free Press, Flickr Creative Commons

Not convinced?  Famous musical artists across the decades would agree with 91% of UNC first-years, and have rather good advice and examples of how to communicate about sex. Salt-n-pepa kicks us off with the obvious, “let’s talk about sex, baby, let’s talk about you and me”. Coldplay chimes in about getting it on with, “Turn your magic on, to me she’d say ,…  ‘Oh you make me feel like I’m alive again’”  John Legend and Marvin Gaye (respectively) ask for affirmative verbal consent singing, “I just need permission, so give me the green light” and “I’m asking you baby to get it on with me, I ain’t gonna worry, I ain’t gonna push, won’t push you baby”.  Lauryn Hill talks about what she likes singing, “The sweetest thing I’ve ever known is your kiss upon my collar bone.” And then there’s Alicia Keys showing us how to set some boundaries, “There’s an attraction we can’t just ignore, but before we go too far across the line I gotta really make sure that I’m really sure.”

 

 

 

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Coldplay Photo by pinero.beatriz, Flickr Creative Commons
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John Legend Photo by Fantasy Springs, Flickr Creative Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of talking about sex… what does “sex” refer to anyways?  Study after study after study has shown that everyone defines sex very differently.  So, for the remainder of this blog, we’re going to focus on “sexual behavior/ activity”, which can include wide a range of behaviors done with ourselves or others including hugging, kissing, vaginal sex, holding hands, oral sex, abstinence, (mutual ) masturbation, different forms of physical intimacy, anal sex, the list goes on.  Some people have oral/ anal/ vaginal sex, other people are sexual in other ways, and some other people choose to abstain from some/ all of these things! Side note: it turns out lots of UNC students are abstaining in lots of different ways as well; click here to learn more! Moral of the story is, no matter what kinds of sexual behaviors you are or aren’t engaging in with other people, learning to talk about wants/needs and boundaries is important, and practice can help. 

Back to the point. If someone is interested in being sexually active, or is sexually active, why does everyone think talking about it with the people involved is such a good idea?  The long and short: talking means everyone is on the same page and everyone will have a better experience if there is clear communication. Loveisrespect.org would say that you’re the only person who knows what’s on your mind, so your partner won’t know unless you say it!  Along the same lines, you can’t know what your partner is thinking or wanting until you ask them and talk about it. We don’t always know how to talk about sexual activity, especially since we don’t always see representations of this in the media, and because we don’t often learn about how to communicate on this topic in school or from our families. However, it’s important for everybody to talk about what they like, don’t like, and what their boundaries are.  It’s also super important to listen to your partner, and respect the things they say and the boundaries they set.  Even if they have previously consented to intimacy, but do not desire to this time. This will show the person that what they say matters to you, and they’re more likely to trust you and listen to you as a result.

Some people think talking about being sexual is for folks in serious, long-term, committed relationships, however, this is just as, if not more, important for people who choose to have casual/ short-term sexual interactions! Why’s that?  Casual/ short-term sexual interactions often occur between people who don’t know each other well, and/or are interacting sexually for the first time.  Therefore, talking about expectations, limits and boundaries for sex (in ways that are comfortable, clear, and sexy) is even more important to make sure everybody is on the same page and having an equally positive experience. There are also people who choose to abstain from some or all sexual behaviors.  Do they need to talk about being sexual?  Absolutely!  Making sure there are clear lines of communication about what everyone wants in these situations is more important than ever so that everyone’s boundaries are understood and respected.

Sound hard/ challenging/ uncomfortable?  It’s easier (and sexier) than it sounds!  And, if someone knows what you like (and you know what they like), and everyone knows what’s on and off the table, it’ll be a lot more safe and satisfying, too. Here are some phrases our sexual wellness counselors recommend to get you started!

  • Do you want to…?
  • How would you feel about…?
  • How far do you see things going?
  • What do you want to do?
  • Would you like it if I…?
  • I want to…
  • I don’t want to…
  • That sounds amazing
  • Nope, not for me
  • I’m down to do… but I’m not into …

Still perplexed? Click here to take a free online course about creating and sustaining healthy relationships, INCLUDING skills around how to communicate and talk about sex in healthy ways. While the information is applicable to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, these modules are centered on the experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Trans*, Intersex, Queer, Questioning, Two Spirit, and Same Gender Loving communities. Whether you are looking to strengthen your own relationship skills or support others in their relationships—this course is for you!

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Have additional specific questions?  Make a free private SHARE appointment to talk about talking about sex.SHARE

We encourage you to think about one way you or a friend could communicate about healthy relationships and sex in an open and positive way.  If you or your friend feels uncomfortable talking about this, remember that 91% of your peers and several pop stars have your back and support talking it out! Continue reading

What Is One Act?

What are Intervention and Prevention?

These two words are thrown around pretty frequently when it comes to violence prevention work, and it is important to understand them before we discuss One Act. Imagine that you are sitting on a riverbank and suddenly a drowning person comes floating down the river, struggling to keep their head above water. You save them, but before you can catch your breath, another person comes drowning down the river, then another and another! Instead of saving each individual person, you run upstream to see why so many people are coming down the river. In this analogy, saving the people drowning can be viewed as intervention work while running upstream to solve the problem can be viewed as prevention work (CDC). Both intervention and prevention are equally important in the field of ending violence.

How One Act Changed My View of Bystander Intervention

One Act is a bystander intervention training that teaches people how to identify warning signs of violence and find safe ways to intervene. Before I attended, I had a very specific idea of what that meant. To me, it meant being at a large, loud party and noticing one person making advances that may be unwanted onto another person, things potentially getting physical, and then someone stepping in to try to prevent a violent situation from unfolding. While this example of violence prevention certainly occurs, it is not the only kind of scenario that One Act addresses.

One Act addresses risky situations including the party scenario I previously mentioned, as well as potentially less obvious situations including noticing a friend exhibiting signs of experiencing mental, physical, emotional, or financial abuse from a partner. One Act incorporates both aspects of prevention and early intervention into its training while also addressing healthy relationships, campus and community resources, and consent.

One Act treats everyone as an active bystander with the potential to prevent or stop violence. I like how One Act offers students’ different ways to intervene based on their identity, personality, and level of comfort intervening in a potentially dangerous situation. One Act really emphasizes ‘meeting people where they are’ and recognizes that not everyone feels safe intervening in the same way, which is why they offer options.

The One Act Model

One Act and One Act for Greeks are on-campus trainings that offer participants the skills to intervene in the situations mentioned previously. The trainings teach participants to be active bystanders all of the time, for strangers at parties as well as for friends and family. The training outlines a 4-step process of dealing with a risky or unsettling situation where you suspect violence or a potential for violence:

  1. Observe
  2. Assess
  3. ACT
  4. Follow Up

One Act acknowledges that every bystander and every situation is different and therefore provides multiple options on how to act. The ACT acronym offers the options:

A – Ask for Help

C – Create a Distraction

T – Talk Directly

One Act on Campus:

Preventing violence sounds like a big, daunting task, but One Act breaks it down into small, doable actions that can make a huge difference. It can be as simple as asking a friend how their new relationship is going, if they feel safe with their partner, or just making yourself available to talk if they ever want to. Outside of trainings, One Act also holds several events on campus to spread awareness for violence prevention. One such event is Dos and Donuts, which is held in both the Fall and Spring semesters. Dos and Donuts offers donuts to students who participate in activities promoting healthy relationships, checking in with friends and family, and self-care. This event helps students who have not been One Act trained learn to be an active bystander in their own lives.

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Here is our Healthy Relationship Donut! We asked students ‘what makes a relationship sweet’ and they added their sprinkle to the donut. Check out more pictures from the event here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/OneAct/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1367790649927800

My Final Thoughts:

One Act gives students the knowledge, skills, and confidence to recognize early warning signs of violence, and teaches them how to take steps to prevent that violence from unfolding. Students who have attended One Act have said that they are more willing to engage in conversations regarding sexual assault and consent since being trained.

I have learned so much since being One Act trained and since working with the program this semester and I strongly believe that this training has and will continue to contribute to a safer UNC-CH environment. I believe that everyone in the Carolina community should get One Act trained in order to foster an environment of looking out for and helping one another.

You can find the dates of our Spring trainings and sign up for information or a training here: https://studentwellness.unc.edu/oneact

This blog post was written by Rachel Maguire, One Act’s Fall 2016 Social Media Intern. Rachel is a third year Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies double major who became involved with One Act through the WMST 340: Violence in Leadership Prevention class.

Living with Gender Dysphoria: Tips for Transgender People’s Friends, Allies, and Partners

A quick note: This blog post uses some terms that might be unfamiliar. We’ve used links to define them in parentheses.

What is dysphoria?

Many, but not all, transgender people  experience dysphoria. Here is a formal definition of dysphoria from the UK’s National Health Service: “Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. Gender dysphoria is a recognized medical condition, for which treatment is sometimes appropriate. It is not a mental illness.” In that definition, treatment commonly refers to transition that can change the body, such as hormones and surgery, which are supervised by a medical professional. Because everyone experiences dysphoria differently, medical transition may not be right for some trans people, and it’s important that all trans people take transition at their own pace. This comic discusses how one trans person found the right pace for their transition. Gender dysphoria is not something that is necessarily “fixed” or “cured” by medical interventions. Additionally, medical interventions for dysphoria are not considered necessary by many health insurance providers. So, due to their high costs, these options are financially out-of-reach for many trans people who need them.

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“Clothing Dolls,” by Mi Mitrika. Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.

Some trans people don’t experience dysphoria at all, and for some trans people, dysphoria is more about the discrepancy between their identities and other’s perceptions.  Here is one trans person’s account of what dysphoria is like: “Body dysphoria feels like the worst-fitting outfit you’ve ever put together, but you can never take it off. Or sometimes it’s more like a pebble in your shoe, or a belt that digs into your side, or a tiny thing that is just noticeable enough to throw your day off. Some days I wake up and it’s just there. Some days it’s because I tried to fit my not-so-masculine body into my masculine clothes, and the parts that didn’t fit made me want to scream and disappear and puke up all my guts at the same time. It can grow into a scary place where I don’t know if my body belongs to me, and I feel e this.like I’ve been detached from something essential and am about to wash out to sea. Maybe a picture makes me hate and fear the body I don’t have because it’s not the body I wish I had. Maybe I think that the someone I desire won’t desire me because I don’t look like all the handsome cisgendered men they probably grew up loving. (Click here for the definition of cisgender.) Maybe it doesn’t make sense why I feel these things, but I still feel them and they still hurt.”   Dysphoria can create disparate health and wellness outcomes, and therefore personal and academic outcomes for those who experience it. 

How do trans people cope with dysphoria?

Although dysphoria can be challenging and painful, there are many ways trans people have learned to cope. Some trans people with dysphoria seek medical treatment to make their bodies match their identities, some seek mental health services to help cope with dysphoria, and some use coping skills they’ve learned. One recent study found that transmen’s mental health was improved by chest-binding, which helps transmen’s chests appear flatter and more masculine. Here are 25 ways that the author of the quote above copes. For a lot of trans folks, one of the most valuable tools to cope with challenges like dysphoria is friendship. In one survey of MTF trans youth, ninety-eight percent of respondents stated that friends were “somewhat” or a “great deal” helpful for emotional support. (Here is the definition of MTF.)

…Support from people like you!

You’ve probably heard a lot about trans people’s struggles with mental health. What we don’t talk about enough is that support from family, friends, and partners can greatly reduce the risk of trans people’s poor health outcomes. For example, among trans people, “social support has been linked with lower levels of both depression and anxiety and fewer suicidal behaviors.” It’s also been positively associated with self-esteem and quality of life. That’s because social rejection is the cause of a lot of trans people’s poor health outcomes in the first place.  Creating a campus atmosphere of understanding, inclusion and acceptance can go a long way in supporting our trans peers.

So how do you support a trans person dealing with dysphoria?

anole-2Because dysphoria is about the discrepancy between someone’s sense of self and their body or other people’s perception of their gender, the best way to support your transgender friend or partner through dysphoria is by (1) seeing their gender the same way they do, and (2) communicating that (as well as your communicating overall care for them, of course!)

Sometimes, cisgender people have to challenge their own assumptions, thoughts, and unconscious beliefs about bodies and identities. For example, we are all socially conditioned to associate certain physical characteristics with maleness and/or femaleness, and these associations are deeply ingrained. However, being supportive to a trans person (particularly one you are intimate with) means actively working to undo those associations. Instead affirm that your friend or partner truly IS the gender they identify as regardless of their voice, mannerisms, or body shape.

That core belief, and your willingness to challenge the thoughts you have that are in conflict with it, is the foundation of supporting any trans person in your life through dysphoria.

Tips to communicate respect for trans folks and help alleviate dysphoria:

  • Use the name and pronoun the trans person prefers.
  • Don’t disclose someone’s trans identity to others without their consent.
  • Respect trans people’s decisions about if, when, and how to transition.
  • When you’re with others who know the trans person’s identity, correct them if they get names and pronouns wrong.
  • If you’re dating someone, ask what words they want to use to talk about their bodies (for example, chest vs. breasts).
  • Use compliments and descriptors that reflect your friend’s or partner’s gender identity. For example, if your partner identifies as a masculine person, they might prefer to be called  “handsome” rather than “pretty.” Luckily, “fabulous” and “smart” are gender-neutral.  
  • When you are struggling to see your friend or partner the way they want to be seen, it can be best to process this with a cisgender ally rather than the trans person. But be sure to do this in a way that respects the trans person’s privacy. For example, check in with them first about who to process with.
  • If dating a trans person (or anyone really,) practice consent consistently and carefully. Consent is important in all relationships, but it’s especially important in trans relationships because, as we’ve discussed here, trans people’s relationships with their bodies can be complicated.

More resources

Here’s more information on how to support trans folks.

For more content on healthy relationships in the LGBTQ community, check out this online course offered here at UNC.

If you are transgender and are struggling with dysphoria, social support, or anything else, contact the LGBT Center here on-campus or Trans Lifeline.

Anole Halper is a graduate intern with Student Wellness. They are getting a dual Masters in social work and public health. Their research interests include sexual violence prevention and LGBTQ health equity issues.

Peeing in A Cup: The Troubling Roots and Consequences of Healthcare Providers’ Ignorance about Transgender Patients

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Image courtesy of Randrenfrow on Flickr

My phone vibrated as I sat in the waiting room. My partner was texting me from the bathroom down the hall at the clinic where I had accompanied her to treat a rash. “I’M TAKING A PREGNANCY TEST. I AM PEEING IN A CUP” she wrote, in a panic. We weren’t worried she was pregnant; however, because my partner doesn’t have a uterus. She is a transgender woman, and her fear, instead, was that her doctor would somehow find out. The doctor had told Hila to take the test before prescribing a cream that could cause birth defects, and Hila hadn’t told the doctor she was trans because she was afraid of the reaction. Doctors and therapists often didn’t know what it meant to be transgender, made Hila feel like a medical oddity, or dismissed every problem she was experience as a symptom of being trans. From my itchy partner’s perspective, treating a simple rash wasn’t worth the risk of disclosing.

My partner’s experiences of poor care are common among transgender people. Half of trans people reported having to teach their medical providers, a fifth said they were refused medical care, 11% were denied therapy, and most disturbingly, a quarter of trans people reported harassment in medical settings.

This poor, unethical, and downright dangerous care is concerning because lifetime experiences of stress and discrimination have caused transgender people to have higher rates of many health issues than the general population. These same health issues are exacerbated by the poor treatment trans people receive. For example, transgender people who are refused treatment by a provider experience an increase in the lifetime rate of suicide attempts from 41%–already shockingly high—to 60% of the transgender population. Further, the poor experiences that transgender clients have with providers can deter them from seeking care in the future. In one study, a quarter of trans people reported postponing medical care. In another, 43% of LGBT clients who had unhelpful experiences in therapy reported diminished quality of life and a quarter developed a negative impression of therapy in general. Health professionals are therefore complicit in worsening transgender health disparities.spaceball

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Image courtesy Marlan on Flickr

Yet at the root of providers’ incompetence and hostility toward transgender people is ignorance. More than half of health care organizations do not require employees to take cultural competency training that includes LGBT issues and 41% of social work program stated that their programs trained students “slightly well” to “not at all well”  when it comes to providing services to all LGBT individuals. Data on trans people, specifically, is unavailable, as trans people are often overlooked in research. No wonder trans people like my partner educate their providers—no one else has.

Trans Health Resources On and Off Campus

Check out this page for more information about how Campus Health Services supports trans health needs. The UNC LGBTQ Center is another resource to support students in navigating trans healthcare on campus. Finally, the LGBT Centers of Durham and Raleigh each keep a listing of community resources that are supportive of LGBTQ people. See the Durham LGBT Center’s listings here, the Raleigh LGBT Center’s community listings here, and the Raleigh center’s list of mental health practitioners here.

By: Anole Halper

Anole Halper is an intern with Student Wellness over the summer.  They are getting a dual Masters in social work and public health.  Their research interests include sexual violence prevention and LGBTQ health equity issues.