CORNWALL, Ontario – Diversity Cornwall’s Gender Affirmation program offers a range of support services to help individuals feel comfortable in their own skin.
Supported through funding from the United Way of Cornwall and SD&G, the Gender Affirmation program helps individuals who might need clothing, hair removal treatments, name changes or gender changes on official identification to help them feel more comfortable with who they are.
“Someone who would have gender dysphoria would use a binder for example to modify how their chest looks. We would provide that,” said Steph Coleman, who has used the Gender Affirmation program’s services and who now sits on the board that manages the program.
Coleman added that the Gender Affirmation program could also connect those in need to therapy services as well.
Suzanna Neville, a mother whose child is transgender and also sits on the board explained that any application that demonstrates an adequate need is duly considered for the Gender Affirmation Program.
“Any application submitted to us will be considered because just as everyone else is learning what help’s people identify appropriately, we are learning as well,” she said.
Coleman explained how important the program is, especially in a smaller community like Cornwall.
“A program like this is so paramount in a smaller community because I think often times people feel bit segregated or separate in a smaller community,” he said. “I think it is so important in the stressful world we live in.”
On the first weekend of March, Diversity Cornwall held an event at Winner’s in Cornwall for members of their Gender Affirmation program. The event took place after the store closed and allowed program members to shop for clothes for themselves in a safe and non-judgemental space. The night also featured hair and nail care as well as information available for those looking for laser hair removal, vocal coaches and more.
The event had about 25 attendees and Neville explained that profound impact that gender affirmation support can have for someone who is transgender.
“There’s 25 people we’re going to be able to provide an inkling of joy because they’re going to have something that is going to help them with their identity,” she said. “For myself, as a parent, I got to experience that with my child as well as my child’s friend when I took them shopping for the first time to purchase something that for once made them feel comfortable in their skin, the joy that brought to their face, it is hard for me to not get emotional about it.”
Those who would like to learn more about the Gender Affirmation program or about Diversity Cornwall’s other activities are asked to visit their website diversitycornwall.ca