Tell us about yourself, who is Andrew Gibson?
Tell us about your career, what inspired you to get into the medical field?
Since I was a teenager I knew I wanted to have a career in the medical field, but wasn’t too sure which role I wanted to pursue. After finishing my undergrad, I obtained my EMT license and have held various roles over the past 5 years. It wasn’t until working as an ER tech in the hospital that I was drawn to social work. I had been applying to nursing schools because I wanted to work in a gender-affirming clinic as an RN, but when I looked deeper into social work, I realized I could have a greater impact with this career. I am currently pursing my MSW in Direct Practice Social Work so that I can be a gender-affirming therapist. I chose to pursue social work instead of therapy, because social work also focuses on advocacy, social change, and the empowerment of people and communities, which all play an equally important part in creating positive change in the LGBTQ+ community. I strive to live a life where I can give back to the community that has given me hope and a safe place to just be.
How important has access to gender-affirming healthcare been to you?
Access to gender-affirming care has been life changing for me. I have struggled with anxiety and depression since I was a teenager, but could never understand the root cause. Growing up in Ohio, I was surrounded by a lot of conservative communities and views and didn’t have the safe space to truly be my authentic self. Flash forward to 2017 and moving across the country alone, I had the safe space to discover who I truly was, Andrew. One of the most influential individuals during this time period was my gender-affirming therapist. She helped guide me in this liberating process. Without judgement, she listened, validated, and helped connect me to the appropriate providers to get started on hormones and obtain the documentation I needed to get top surgery and my name legally changed. She has been a huge inspiration to me and I am forever grateful for her guidance and support. Since moving to California, I have been privileged to have access to gender-affirming care through organizations such as The LGBT Center. Being able to take care of my health while being treated with dignity and respect has eased my fear around these interactions. Feeling comfortable to receive care from a provider that practices gender-affirming care has allowed me to take better care of my physical and mental health. The alarming increasing number of anti-trans policies and laws being passed is heart-wrenching. Together, we must fight back against this hate and push for more trans inclusive laws and policies. Gender-affirming care truly does save lives.
What can allies do to better support the transgender community?
Listen, educate, be respectful, and show up for the trans community. Listen to us when we are sharing our stories. Listen to what we are asking for because it’s basic human rights. Educate yourself. A lot of hate and bigotry towards the trans community comes from misinformation and lack of education. It is not our job to educate others on why we deserve to exist peacefully. Take it upon yourself to seek out this information in articles, books, webinars, workshops, etc. Learn about current policies that are negatively impacting the trans community and what you can do as an ally to fight back against these laws and policies and push for more trans inclusive legislature. Speak out against hate. Whether you are a member of the community or an ally, you can speak up when you see someone being being mistreated. Any amount of support goes a long way. Be that safe space for someone. Show up for the community. There are so many ways to do this whether it's through having tough conversations with others, calling on elected officials for progressive and inclusive change, using preferred pronouns, and supporting trans owned businesses, to name a few. We are all human and deserve a safe place to thrive authentically. Together, we can amplify our voices and create inclusive and supportive change in the trans community.
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