Tyler Lefevor, a counselor-presenter-researcher and assistant professor of psychology at Rhodes will have research published in an upcoming issue of The Counseling Psychologist. Titled “Initial Distress and Therapeutic Outcomes Among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color,” it is co-authored by Rhodes alum Alexis Franklin ’18 and student William-Michael Stone ’19.
“Alexis and William-Michael were fundamental in writing up our results. They conducted a literature review and wrote initial drafts of large sections of the manuscript. Their work helped this manuscript come out six months to one year faster than it would have if I had to do those things on my own,” says Lefevor
Their study investigated the prevalence of health disparities among transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) people of color (POC) as well as the efficacy of psychotherapy in reducing these health disparities. The results of their study demonstrated increased levels of distress in TGNC POC individuals than cisgender individuals, or those whose gender corresponds with their birth sex. Additionally, while therapy effectively addressed the distress of cisgender individuals, it was less effective for TGNC individuals.
The authors attribute these differences to the daily discrimination that TGNC POC face, such as not having gender inclusive restrooms, people assuming their pronouns, and misgendering, as well as therapists having a lack of understanding regarding the identities and experiences of TGNC POC. In order to reduce these health disparities, the authors recommend that therapists should take steps to educate themselves about the experiences of TGNC individuals. Furthermore, institutions should provide gender inclusive restrooms, forms with nuanced assessments of gender (rather than just male vs. female), and they should be attuned to peoples’ pronouns.
“By highlighting these issues, we are calling attention to the health disparities experienced by TGNC, POC, and TGNC POC individuals, as well as providing a means by which therapists can become aware of the cultural differences of these groups and use them to improve the quality of treatment they receive,” says Stone.
“Prof. Lefevor really values his lab students’ ideas and contributions and wants us to feel just as connected to the research as he is,” adds Franklin. “Specifically with this project, he created the space for Will and me to input our own ideas, questions, and thoughts into the paper. He wanted us to challenge his thinking and in return he challenged ours too. In the end, I became a better writer and researcher.”