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Association provides growing support for trans community

Published on

Tara Jeffrey

Having a safe space to go made all the difference for Kendra and Rose Druiett.

“I remember when I first came out four years ago, there was nothing, and it was very stressful,” said 46-year-old Kendra. “Especially for my wife, because we didn’t know any other couples going through this.”

The couple, married nearly 22 years, came across something called ‘Coming out over coffee’ — a local support group for transgender persons and their partners, and it was a lifesaver.

“It was amazing, and helped a lot,” she said. “We could finally talk to others in the same situation, people that would understand.”

Today, the couple is facilitators of the group, which evolved into Transgender Support Sarnia-Lambton and then recently merged with the Sarnia Pride Alliance to form the Sarnia Pride Transgender Association.

“Getting more community involvement has really been quite nice,” said Druiett, pointing to a strong social media presence, and growing attendance at regular events. Grace United Church, which often plays host to group events, has been a huge support, she added.

Both say the community response has been positive, but healthcare remains a huge barrier.

“The biggest challenge for most trans people is going to the hospital,” she said. “When you have to give your name, most of us give our preferred name. But quite often they want us to give the name that is on our birth certificate, even though that is very triggering for some of us.”

‘Dead-naming’ is the term used for addressing someone by his or her name prior to transitioning.

“It can cause people to become very upset and it’s something that needs to be addressed,” she added.

About nine people help steer the group, hosting social and games nights, various fundraisers, and attending Pride events across southwestern Ontario.

Members range in age from teens to 60’s.

“We really encourage parents of young people to come out,” said Rose Druiett. “A lot of people don’t realize how much support the parents actually need; it’s a big transition for them as well.”

The Transgender Peer Support group runs on the first Wednesday of each month at the West Lambton Community Health Centre at 6 p.m. A full slate of events is planned for the coming year, including dances, picnics, and a Family and Ally Appreciation Day.

A spaghetti dinner and fundraiser will be held at Grace United Church on March 24 at 5:30 p.m., and all are welcome.

“Our group is a safe place; there’s no judgment going on,” said Kendra Druiett. “It can be quite a struggle and quite scary, and you can’t just do it on your own.”

For more information, visit the group’s Facebook Page: Sarnia Pride and Transgender Association or email [email protected].

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