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Transgender Day of Visibility: Addiction Recovery Resources

On Transgender Day of Visibility, we celebrate and lift up trans and non-binary people in our community, including the recovery community.

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According to the Human Rights Campaign, “there are over 1.6 million trans, non-binary and gender-expansive youth (age 13+) and adults across the United States.” This weekend, on March 31st, we honor Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV), when we celebrate and lift up these trans and non-binary people in our community.

And there is so much to celebrate!

Recent accomplishments and appearances by trans and non-binary celebrities

Here are a couple of people and accomplishments that sprang to mind (note that I am a nerd, so my references tend to be a little nerdy):

  • Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider just returned once again to win, this time in her quarterfinalist match in the Jeopardy! Invitational Tournament.
  • Non-binary actor Vico Ortiz played the popular character Jim, a non-binary pirate on both seasons of Our Flag Means Death.
  • Doctor Who recently had a beloved former companion return with a trans daughter (portrayed by trans actress Yasmin Finney).
  • Alex Newell and J. Harrison Ghee both won Tony Awards.
  • Brian Michael Smith was featured in People Magazine’s annual “Sexiest Men Alive” list in 2021 and 2022.
  • Laura Jane Grace just released a new album, Hole in My Head.
  • Mae Martin was hilarious as they won their season of Taskmaster.

These are just a very few examples, and are all about celebrities, but there are so many amazing trans and non-binary folks (or folx, as many prefer) in all walks of life. One community in which they are definitely present is the recovery community.

Substance use disorders among trans and non-binary people

Research into addiction among trans people has mixed results. Many studies show significantly higher rates of substance use within the trans populations, with trans people reportedly up to 2-3 times more likely to develop substance use disorders than their cis counterparts. Other studies find that substance use largely mirrors rates among cis populations. Among the studies that find high rates of substance use and misuse among trans participants, those rates are correlated with discrimination and trauma—trans individuals who experience greater discrimination are more likely to use substances.

Understandably, trans people who experience stigma and discrimination in their addiction treatment are less likely to stay in addiction treatment. This seems like a common-sense finding, but studying and measuring outcomes can make the need for change clear. In this case, the need for treatment that is accepting, affirming, and non-stigmatizing is extremely apparent.

Addiction recovery resources for trans and non-binary folks are scarce

It can be difficult to find resources specifically for trans and non-binary people in recovery. When you do find resources, vet them to ensure they’re appropriate. For example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers a guide about providing treatment for substance use disorders to LGBT patients, written for healthcare providers … but it was published in 2012. While well-intentioned and useful, this resource is fairly out of date in terminology and general understanding of trans identities. Another resource list I found for trans people in recovery contained only a single meeting link, for a Zoom meeting that hasn’t convened since 2021.

But don’t be discouraged! There is support available.

Finding substance use disorder treatment that is inclusive and affirming

For in-person recovery meetings, there are many recovery groups designed for the LGBTQ+ community that welcome trans and non-binary members. To find them, include the terms “Lambda,” “queer,” or “LGBTQ” in your search for recovery meetings in your area. And of course, trans and non-binary people can and do attend general recovery meetings in all kinds of groups.

For online meetings, the TRANS Everywhere group hosts virtual meetings and maintains a spreadsheet of other trans-friendly meetings in a variety of 12-step fellowships.

For clinical treatment, SAMHSA’s treatment locator offers an optional filter that can help narrow down your search. Enter your city or ZIP code in the search box. In the lefthand menu, if I click “Show More” and then expand the menu for “Special Programs/Groups Offered, I see a check box for “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning (LGBTQ)” in the dropdown.

The LGBTQ+ Healthcare Directory is searchable and allows you to choose specialties like “Substance Use Treatment Services” or “Addiction Medicine” as you search.

Workit Health is available in several states for online treatment of opioid and alcohol use disorders, along with co-occurring conditions. Our providers are affirming and committed to harm reduction.

As I look forward to TDoV, I am grateful for my colleagues and friends who are trans and non-binary, many of whom are in recovery alongside me. I hope you will celebrate with us!

Alaine Sepulveda is a content strategist in recovery from alcohol. She believes that engaging people and sharing stories with them allows us to spread knowledge, and to help others in the path to recovery. She holds an MA in Communication Studies from New Mexico State University.

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. Workit Health, Inc. and its affiliated professional entities make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.

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