Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Transgender group provides support for Southeast students

Tuesday, March 10, 2020
by Ally Bruemmer

Transgender students at Southeast seeking support and community in a group setting can find it on campus in the Scully Training Clinic on Thursdays at 6 p.m.

Graduate students Sarah Patrick and Alex Badalamenti facilitate the support group, which uses student-led discussion to process group members’ experiences. Patrick said the group uses a strategy called “process group,” in which students can help others through shared experiences.

Process group settings allow students to speak freely about what is on their minds. Patrick said the transgender student group discusses almost everything pertaining to the clients’ lives, with most discussions centering around school life.

Patrick said conversations are easier in this group as all members share a common thread.

When first entering the counseling clinic, she said it can be difficult for students to open up to a trained counselor. However, when surrounded by peers, she said the students can more easily find community.

“People are more willing to share their experience when they know they have something in common with everyone else in the room,” Patrick said.

The group began with an email from a student interested in creating a group specifically for transgender students and grew from there. Discussions for a group began in early September, Patrick said, and led to the formation of the weekly group at the Scully Training Clinic.

While three to eight students attend the weekly sessions, Patrick said it’s difficult to judge exactly how many students are transgender attend Southeast. Even if the statistics are available, she said, many students may not come out as transgender due to prejudice in this geographical area.

This is why, Patrick said, building a sense of community through the support group is so important.

“People in marginalized groups are less likely to seek out resources because of fear of prejudice and how others will react,” Patrick said. “This group just takes away that one worry.”

The group is offered for free to Southeast students and is also available for a sliding-scale fee for community members. Individuals from the community visiting the clinic would be charged a counseling fee based on their income amount, which can be as low as $5.

Those interested in attending the 6 p.m. Thursday group sessions may contact the clinic at tscully@semo.edu or at (573) 651-5169.

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