Gender Support Program gives promise to trans community

OkEq Gender Support Program Facilitator, Sharon Queen with Olivia Cotter, OkEq office manager. Photo by Robin Dorner.

by Kara Kliewer
Staff Writer

“I spent a large portion of my life feeling like an ‘island unto myself,’” says Sharon Queen, a facilitator for the Gender Support Program (GSP) at Oklahomans for Equality (OkEq).

“It is only through organizations such as OkEq and programs such as GSP, that I have realized I am not an abomination or sinner (often heard as public opinion). I am a person just like everyone else, with the same hopes, dreams and goals.”

The program Queen is referencing was started by OkEq 12 years ago and now has 300 members and seven support groups. Queen says it’s one of the largest transgender/gender non-conforming (TGNC) support programs in the nation.

“Each group is facilitated by a member of the group,” Queen notes. “Each group is supported by a clinically trained counselor or therapist, following guidance from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) for support groups.”

The groups offered support individuals transitioning from male to female, female to male, teens and pre-teens in the TGNC community and parents of those children.

In these groups, participants are provided with support, resources and advice through anecdotal information from other TGNC individuals.

With these kinds of connections being made between TGNC individuals, members can provide support to each other as they are experiencing or have experienced similar situations.

“I enjoy listening to others share their stories and journeys, as they echo my own journey so as to reassure me in times of dysphoria or depression,” adds Queen. “I can share my disappointments, questions, victories, elations and moments of success within my journey with people who can completely relate and even benefit from hearing me share the moments of my journey.”

As a woman who has transitioned and now facilitates for GSP, Queen wants those struggling with gender identity to know that they’re not alone and can find help.

“Regardless of one's location, we suggest reaching out to organizations such as OkEq to find programs such as GSP,” states Queen. “People throughout the state of Oklahoma and the surrounding states utilize the programs available at OkEq.”

If you are interested in joining a GSP group, contact the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center at (918) 743-4297 to schedule an entrance interview with facilitators.

“It is through finding like-minded people who support each other and focus on the similarities in their journeys that we realize each of us are part of a very strong and proud community. We can help each other along our journeys,” Queen says.

“Identify things in this world that will make you happy and pursue them! If gender transition is one of those things, pursue that with all the gusto you can with respect to your career, family or friends.”

Copyright The Gayly – November 8, 2017 @ 9:45 a.m. CST.