Cultural competency, sensitivity training, and best practices are essential to understanding the complex mental health and development needs of transgender and nonbinary youth exploring their gender identity. This workshop will highlight that transgender emergence is a normative process of identity development and will challenge the view that gender variance is pathological. An overview of the issues impacting families of gender diverse youth with special attention to caregiver education and support and school-related advocacy will be explored. Resources and best practices for professionals working with families facing gender transition will be provided.

Acey A. Mercer, LMSW is a graduate of the University at Albany School of Social Welfare where he obtained his Master’s in Social Work. Prior to graduate school Acey studied at Radboud Universiteit in the Netherlands where his academic focus was in Gender and Sexuality Studies. These foci ignited Acey’s passion to further explore and examine human behavior, relationships and the dynamics of class, race, ability, gender and sexuality. These motivating factors drew Acey to pursue social work and ultimately to become a licensed psychotherapist and educator. Acey is currently Practice Manager at Choices Counseling & Consulting in Albany, NY where he oversees clinical referrals and is responsible for the overall daily operations. He is also a Clinician at Choices and counsels clients exploring gender identity and expression. He works with adults, youth, and their families as they navigate questions and challenges related to the social, legal and medical aspects of gender transition. Acey’s clinical lens gives a strong compliment to the professional education services he delivers as Senior Consultant of the Training Institute for Gender, Relationships, Identity, and Sexuality (TIGRIS). Acey specializes in providing clinical training and policy development as it relates to best serving transgender and nonbinary populations in medical, mental health and educational institutions.

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