Offering key insights into the transgender community
Mateo Huezo (Master of Counselling ’18) has been active in Edmonton’s transgender community for more than a decade. His collaborative, innovative thesis project offers insights that have the potential to dramatically improve the lives of that community’s most vulnerable.
Mateo Huezo (Master of Counselling ’18) dreams about creating a rainbow health clinic in Edmonton, a place where the LGBTQ community can access comprehensive health care without fear of mistreatment or judgment. Until that day, the Registered Provisional Psychologist and Canadian Certified Counsellor is one of few transgender-identified therapists in the city using within-community knowledge to empower vulnerable members of the trans community.
The Trans Community Says is an open electronic resource (OER) created in partnership with and for the transgender community. Developed from Huezo’s Masters project, “The Trans Community Says Project,” it shares locally relevant knowledge and perspectives that can have a positive impact on lives within the trans community, as well as offer important insights for individuals and agencies offering resources.
“Much of the support offered to the trans community comes from within the community,” Huezo explains. “This is part of the vulnerability, because although we care so much and give so much, a lot of that work is mentorship to help people navigate systems and figure out what they need for transition. This is invisible, emotional labour, and we don’t want people burning out.”
“I wish a resource like this had been available when I was growing up,” Huezo says. “I think it could be life-changing for someone. Having access to your own culture and community is so important.”
Building on strengths to build capacity
Huezo looked at the internal wisdom and capacity within the trans community, focused on developing research for trans-affirmative care which would also be useful for the community itself. A community-based participatory action project was created, engaging volunteers who were instrumental in shaping the research and gathering information through focus groups. The OER captures what was said in the group.
“If we want to support the trans community, we need to capitalize on the strengths that are already there,” Huezo says. Sustaining these efforts will require larger systems and funders to get involved, and the key to that is ensuring they have the knowledge to understand issues and needs.
Huezo is helping to advance that progress through private practice, as well as through teaching college classes, providing community education through workshops and presentations, and consulting with agencies to show how the knowledge gleaned from the project can be mobilized and put into practice.
“I wish a resource like this had been available when I was growing up,” Huezo says. “I think it could be lifechanging for someone. Having access to your own culture and community is so important.”