You are Visible to Us: An Open Letter of Support to Counseling Psychologists and Students

June is Pride month, a time we set aside to celebrate LGBTQ+ empowerment and liberation. This year, it is also the month that the US Department of Health and Human Services announced it is rolling back recognition of civil rights protections in healthcare for transgender people. These protections were fought for by generations of trans and nonbinary (TNB) activists, many of them women of color. Rights for TNB people are essential and non-negotiable, and we condemn the HHS decision as well as the trans, nonbinary, and broader anti-LGTBQI2S+ antagonism and violence that underlie it.

The symbolic violence of this announcement on the anniversary of the Pulse massacre and during Pride month is disgusting. The decision from the HHS further coincides with the murders of two Black trans women: Dominique Fells of Philadelphia and Riah Milton of Ohio. We mourn them and recognize their deaths are part of a system of interpersonal and structural violence against Black trans people that is a human rights crisis. Trans activists in the Movement for Black Lives have made a call for donations specifically to Black trans-led groups to ensure their support.

To trans and non-binary people within our community, we the leaders of SAS are here for you and will be taking action to see the HHS decision reversed and your rights and safety defended. You are visible to us, and we adamantly reject the work going on at many levels to deny your right to exist. We’re also here to support our trans and non-binary peers and colleagues in Division 44 and throughout the psychology student community. We invite counseling psychologists and students around the world to join us in this fight for equity.

We will keep you informed about our own work and about any joint advocacy, and APA’s advocacy steps, in the coming weeks. We will also communicate with you about broader action-planning we are undertaking as a student organization to deepen SAS’s work toward queer, trans, and intersecting forms of liberation.

We are including below some immediate resources for support and education, and ways to financially contribute to trans- and nonbinary-led organizations if you’re able. Please stay in touch with us here and in the SAS Facebook group and on our blog about related resources and actions.

  • Trans Lifeline (877-565-8860): A trans-led hotline/organization that connects trans people to community, support, and resources to survive and thrive,
  • #BlackTransLivesMatter: Actions & Resources for Solidarity: This document is a rich resource and has a lot of suggestions for action. It was created by “with the oversight of Janet Mock, Raquel Willis, Nala Toussaint, and support from David Johns. Labor provided in solidarity by Brittany Packnett Cunningham, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein, and Phillip Picardi.”
  • The Okra Project: Provides culturally-specific resources and care for Black trans people, as well as emergency funds, including money to access therapy. Currently seeking donations for the Nina Pop Mental Health Recovery Fund and the Tony McDade Mental Health Recovery Fund:
  • The National Center for Transgender Equality: Offers information on how to get involved in advocacy at the national, state, and local level to increase support for transgender people,
  • The Transgender Law Center:A national trans-led organization that participates in advocacy and legal and policy change,

Aside from donating to and interacting with local and national organizations, there are a lot of little things we can do to resist the toxic systems and hateful structures that oppress trans, nonbinary, and LGTBQI2S+ people. For example, you could attend the When We Fight, We Win! webinar about implications for counseling psychology from black tans intersectional liberation movements. You could also consider adding your pronouns to your email signature, pushing for inclusive facilities on your campus or place of work, and exploring your own biases around gender. These are just a few of the many ways to create change both locally and globally. As future and present counseling psychologists, we cannot let injustice go unanswered.

With sadness,

Gloria G. McGillen, Colleen L. Eddy, & Leticia D. Martinez
Robina Onwong’a & Alexis Rhames
Co-Chairs & Incoming Co-Chairs
Student Affiliates of Seventeen (SAS)
Pronouns: she/her/hers

For more information about the authors, see:


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