When Holly Reese joined The Center’s staff as senior and transgender programs manager in 2014, she had a goal of adding numerous new trans* and gender non-conforming programs and services. Almost immediately, she introduced the hugely successful SWITCH Trans* Clothing Swap and the FLUX support group for youth, facilitated by clinical psychologist Susan Vincent, PhD. These joined the existing Trans.lation, Out of the (Gender) Box and Transmasculine Group meetings to form what is known collectively as the Identi-T* program.
The next new group to be added to the lineup is called T*gether and will launch at The Center on June 3.
“The mission of T*gether is to provide peer-facilitated support in a safe, respectful environment for couples who find themselves dealing with the complexities that arise when a cisgender spouse comes out as transgender,” Reese says. “T*gether serves adult couples in a committed relationship who are looking for ways to strengthen their relationship and move forward in a healthy way.”
Each three-month session of T*gether— meeting Wednesday evenings from 6 to 7:30 p.m.—will consist of six to eight couples who are at various points of transitioning in a relationship. Couples will be expected to attend together. The meetings will be set up to invite a feeling of home and safety, in a home-style environment. The first couple of meetings will be light and informal, welcoming folks to get to know each other in a casual way, inviting conversation and establishing comfort and trust. As the weeks go on, the group will be structured in a way that the topics of conversation will become more intimate and serious.
“At the end of the 3 months, a new group will form, and our hope is as more couples graduate from the group, friendships and support systems will develop in ways that allow for the couples to continue to find support both in and outside of the walls of the Center,” Reese says.
For the pilot group, Reese and her partner Holly Huth will co-moderate with Holly and Toni Nesmith, a couple of 46 years with grown children and grandchildren. The Nesmiths met in 1967 when Holly was known as Jeff and married nearly two years later. In 2003, Jeff learned the word “transgender” online and adopoted the name Holly the following year. Toni has remained lovingly supportive ever since.
In the near future, The Center will launch Pivot, a parent/child support group moderated by a father with a trans* son and a mother with a trans* daughter. Each meeting will be divided with the youth in one room and parents in another, coming together in one room every six weeks.
“The mission behind Pivot is to provide support to families and the child when a child comes out in order help the family bond and grow, rather than to fall apart at this pivotal time,” Reese says.
Once T*gether and Pivot are both launched, The Center’s trans* offerings will total seven, but that’s just the beginning. Visit www.thecenterlv.org/trans or www.facebook.com/transinvegas to learn more about everything under the Identi-T* umbrella and be notified of new additions. θ