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Wed, Apr 22


Remote via Zoom

Spiritual Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Among LGBTQ Youth

This workshop explores two emerging concepts in psychology--spiritual abuse and spiritual trauma.

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Spiritual Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Among LGBTQ Youth
Spiritual Trauma, Abuse, and Mental Health Among LGBTQ Youth

Time & Location

Apr 22, 2020, 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Remote via Zoom, 3800 Coolidge Ave, Oakland, CA 94602, USA

About the Event

Kelsey Pacha

Training Description

Sparse research and resources exist for care professionals working to support transgender and gender expansive youth who have been exposed to negative theological messages and perhaps experienced religiously-based family rejection related to their coming out process and/or gender transition. Educators and clinicians—including social workers, therapists, and psychologists—often do not receive any kind of training related to religious and spiritual competency, let alone information tailored to identities under the transgender umbrella, despite its potential impact on family acceptance, identity development, mental health outcomes, and social behavior. This workshop explores two emerging concepts in psychology--spiritual abuse and spiritual trauma, examining common anti-trans theological messages and their mental health effects on transgender and gender expansive youth. Special attention will be paid to how these damaging messages relate to systemic harm including bullying, homelessness, and substance abuse. Attendees will share their experiences in small and large groups, explore the clinical and logistical resources available to assist clients and their families, collaborate on a case study, and leave with resources for further exploration. This workshop includes a Transgender/Pronoun 101 portion reviewing three dimensions of gender, gender terminology, and pronoun best practices to ensure a solid foundation for all participants to engage how religious and spiritual messages affect transgender and gender expansive youth.

Learning Objectives

  • Become familiar with three dimensions of gender (identity, biology, and expression) and reflect on their own experiences with gender.
  • Learn terms related to transgender and gender expansive youth, including terms to avoid.
  • Practice using gender-neutral pronouns and roleplaying what to do when someone is misgendered. 
  • Learn about transgender and gender expansive people and religion
  • Become familiar with the concept of spiritual trauma and three negative theological messages about being trans or gender expansive
  • Identify connections between these messages and negative mental health outcomes
  • Reflect on their own relationship to religion and spirituality
  • Collaborate on a case study and explore the complexities of multiple spiritual identities and systems on trans and gender expansive youth.
  • Develop best practices to address religious and spiritual concerns in their individual provider context.


9:00 - 9:15 Introductions: name, preferred gender pronoun, one thing you wish to learn. Presenter shares his journey as a trans man who has worked in faith and non-profit contexts. Review Personal action plan.

9:15-9:35 Why is this important? Think about population you work with and what their developmental and social needs are—i.e. what did you need when you were a young person? Unhoused? Senior? Youth in care?

9:35-9:40 Intersectionality—viewing person in context of all identities.

9:40-10:00   Coming Out Stars activity.

10:00-10:15 Break (CEUs will not be issued for this time)

10:15-10:25 Debrief Coming Out Stars.

10:25-10:30 Difference b/w gender and sexuality. 3 dimensions of sexuality.

10:30-10:55     Gender 101—3 Axes of Gender: gender biology, gender expression, and gender identity. Pair share self-reflection questions for each axis. SOGIE Friend/Pronoun practices, Gender Terminology handouts.

10:55-11:05 Genderbread person/Gender Gumby activity. 


11:05-11:25     Exploration of terms related to gender expansive identities (i.e. transgender, genderqueer.) Small group term matching activity. Term matching handout.

11:25-11:35     Discussion of gender pronouns. Practice asking others what their pronouns are, sharing their pronouns, and using various pronouns to refer to someone in the third person in pairs.


11:35-12:00     Roleplaying activity—2 scenarios about correcting when someone is misgendered. Large group discussion. Pronoun best practices. Pronoun best practices handout.

12:00-12:30 LUNCH (CEUs will not be issued for this time)

12:30-12:50 Review intersectionality and watch video. Discussion: How do these individuals’ multiple identities affect their experiences as transmen? What kinds of barriers might they experience and how can a provider support them?

12:50-1:00 Diagnoses and controversies

1:00 - 1:05 Gender ID development—brief overview.


1:05-1:20      Learn about health disparities for transgender and gender expansive people and how they relate to social service systems. Foster youth info.

1:20-1:30 Microaggressions—how they impact MH


1:30-1:35      Mental health impact of support  

1:35-1:50      Discuss research about transgender people and religion. Research handout. Introduce concept of spiritual trauma and spiritual abuse


1:50-2:00   Discuss three common anti-trans theological messages and their respective connections to mental health outcomes. Discuss nuanced differences between anti-trans and anti-LGBQ theologies.


2:00-2:15 Video and discussion about intersecting identities. (10:24-14:18 “Growing Up Transgender and Mormon” National Geographic video)

2:15-2:30 Discuss video.

2:30-2:45 Break (CEUs will not be issued for this time)

2:45-2:50 Laws that protect trans folks in CA in various systems.

2:50-3:05 Individuals complete personal inventory. Personal inventory pair share, then small groups generate best practice ideas based on what they’ve discussed and share with the large group. Personal inventory handout. 

3:05-3:20      Presenter shares best practice recommendations. Model how to fill out Gender Support Plan.

3:25-3:50 Groups collaborate on a case study and share out their recommendations with the large group.

3:50-4:00    Question and answer period; Course Evaluations

Meet Our Trainer

Kelsey Pacha is a queer-identified transman who has worked with LGBTQ people for 15 years, primarily in non-profit settings. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and holds an M.A. in Religion and Psychology, a Master of Divinity, and a Certificate in Sexuality and Religion from Pacific School of Religion, located in Berkeley, CA. Kelsey is passionate about educating would-be allies and empowering LGBTQ people through educational trainings. He has offered LGBTQ inclusivity and cultural humility trainings for corporations, clinicians, non-profits, schools (preschool-college age), senior facilities, and for providers working with system-involved youth. He has also developed curricula for LGBTQ youth programs, faith communities, and presented at conferences across the country. Kelsey is the Board President of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, which publishes a 649-page resource guide by and for the trans*, genderqueer, and gender-nonconforming communities. He is currently writing a chapter, editing another, and serving as the Survey Editor for the second edition of the book, to be released in June 2021.  

This course meets the qualifications for (6) BBS CEUs for LCSWs and MFTs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences & is provided by Fred Finch Youth Center, CAMFT Provider #045295.

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