In this conversation, Kerry Manzo and Maureena Benavides discuss the need for more support of transgender individuals in West Texas and the mission of the “Out in West Texas” symposium. Manzo is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at Texas Tech University. Her areas of interest include gender and sexuality studies within a global context, and queer studies more broadly. Maureena Benavides, M.A., LPC is the owner/operator of On the Couch Counseling in Midland,TX. As a licensed professional counselor, Maureena helps individuals, couples, and families with struggles in communication, intimacy and anxiety and depression and also specializes in helping gender non-conforming clients explore their gender identity.
The “Out in West Texas” symposium will take place on November 3rd and 4th at the Sleep Inn & Suites in Midland. The project aims “to train medical, legal, mental health, and educational providers of the West Texas region in working with transgender clients, as well as to provide training in transgender affirming practices.”
Manzo explains how many people, “[T]hink that transgender people live and work in non-traditional jobs and roles. That they’re not the oilfield worker, that they’re not the bank teller, that they’re not the teacher, and that’s inaccurate. Transgender people – they come from all walks of life, all classes, all backgrounds. They are everywhere in our communities.”
According to The Williams Institute out of UCLA:
- There are approximately 125,000 transgender adults in Texas.
- “The prevalence of suicide attempts among respondents to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality, is 41 percent, which vastly exceeds the 4.6 percent of the overall U.S. popuplation who report a lifetime suicide attempt, and is also higher than the 10-20 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults to report ever attempting suicide.