W.E. Trans to start offering its own in-house counselling services

The organization's executive director says members of the Queer and Transgender community have a challenging time finding counselling options that are supportive of their identities, so this new model is intended to help fill that gap.

The organization has hired three counsellors that will start working June 1

Chad Craig, left, and Jayce Carver say they're excited about this new approach to offering counselling services at the centre, explaining that it's fulfilling a need in the community. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

In-house counselling services are coming to the W.E Trans Support centre in Windsor.

The organization has offered counselling in the past, through community partners, but now W.E. Trans has hired three independent counsellors who will start working at the centre June 1.

Executive Director Jayce Carver said members of the transgender community have a difficult time finding counselling options that address their needs. The new counselling services at the centre are intended to help fill that gap.

"When we put out a community survey to the people we serve, they were saying that they felt safest coming to a queer and trans-led organization to access these services."

She explained that many face barriers when accessing health care and mental services through the greater community. Some examples include discomfort with discussing their identities in a "cis-normative hetero-normative community," Carver said, and also previous poor experiences with accessing care.

The organization has historically offered counselling services through community partners, but now they're shifting towards an independent model. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

The co-founder of 514 Foster Care and a W.E. Trans board member, Chad Craig, has felt that barrier close to home.

"Our kids have walked into emergency rooms and counselling sessions where they've been told trans people don't exist," said Craig.

'Filling that gap'

He and Carver both said that while there are great service providers in Windsor-Essex, it can still be challenging for people to get the help they need. 

"If we could triage that here and we could provide those services, even temporarily here, for folks to prepare them to access services in the greater community, then we are filling that gap," said Carver.

According to her, the counsellors that W.E. Trans has hired are trained in supporting people who are gender diverse and have worked with the community for years, so they'll already have a relationship with some of the people the centre supports.

People can continue to schedule appointments on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but there will be some flexibility based on a client's needs. The organization will offer child and youth counselling, family counselling and group counselling.

Group sessions will cover things like depression and addictions.

The centre also plans on renovating one of its rooms to make it sound-proof for the comfort of clients. 

A safe space

Lisa Renaud said her 13-year-old son who is trans has been using the counselling services available to him at the centre. 

She said that before coming to W.E. Trans, they had tried counselling by other means. 

Lisa Renaud says her son, who is trans, feels safe accessing counselling services through W.E. Trans Support. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Her son was placed on long wait lists, and Renaud explained that once he was finally seen by a counsellor, "he'd come out and it would be worse than he'd gone into the appointment."

Finally being able to accessing counselling sessions at W.E. Trans has made a huge difference for her son, who feels safe at the centre. 

"He knows that when he comes here, he is known by his name, his pronouns are used, he doesn't have to worry about being misgendered, about being questioned, about the past, things that we assumed at birth, things that weren't who he is," she said.

Renaud has heard about the new counsellors' qualifications and feels comfortable that they understand the community of people they will be helping.

She is also accessing family counselling at the centre.

"I may be the cis-gender mom, and just an ally, but I'm going through some things in order to support my son, and there's not really another counsellor that's going to get that, except for a counsellor that's involved here."