Trans and queer API communities face many barriers to accessing competent mental health care, and often suffer trauma from the care offered. In Up to Us, APIENC’s community-led research of the needs of trans APIs in the Bay Area, we confirmed the ways that the Medical Industrial Complex (MIC) continues to exploit and traumatize our people. We found over half of survey respondents feel uncomfortable and unsafe going to the doctor, while a third need to but cannot afford to. In addition, more than 70% have seriously considered ending their own lives, and many have attempted to. Clearly, our needs for support and care are dire, but the care available to us is unaffordable or inaccessible. The healthcare we can afford often leaves us alienated, hurt by the people meant to care for us, and too frightened to go back.
Despite these conditions, our communities have generations of first-hand knowledge and ancestral wisdom on how to survive oppression and support each other to heal. At APIENC, we build on these practices to create our own systems of care. By starting a peer counseling program by-and-for TGNC APIs, leading workshops to learn how to ask for help and practice interdependence, and experimenting with phone trees and mutual aid projects to meet each others’ needs, we challenge the MIC’s monopoly and shift the power to care for ourselves and each other back to our communities.
I used to think that I’m fully capable of handling challenges on my own because I never wanted to burden anyone, especially my family. But, really, I am not always okay. I realize now that opening myself up to share my mental health with my family, who I love dearly, has brought us so much closer.
A big impetus for why I can share this reflection is due in part to my participation in the Dragonfruit Network’s Asking for Help workshops last year. I learned that I am not alone in my experiences and that being vulnerable is an act of courage. There is so much healing and care that we as a queer TGNC community can cultivate together, and this is why I choose to be a part of the Healing and Care committee with APIENC.
-Vince Z., Committee Member
Reflecting on the history of trans and queer Asian and Pacific Islander organizing, getting into juicy conversations about love and relationships, and reclaiming space for our own healing.
Dragon Fruit Podcast
Findings of community-based research on the safety, healing, and housing needs of trans and non-binary APIs in the Bay Area.