Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Favorite Gift of the Season

by Martha Fugate, Co-Founder of YES Institute 

Martha Fugate.
I've invited YES Institute interns to create a CD of songs they want to share with me. These are treasured gifts that always bring new sounds, ideas, and experiences to my life. This year, this has been exceptionally true. 

Ten CD’s of music favorites are coming into my life bringing new ways for me to listen and learn.  It is an amazing gift, and each CD conveys an artful thoughtfulness and excitement behind the choices selected.  One of the interns Amanda also shared a collection of classical instrumental music that included several compositions and renditions of her own violin recitals. Is it possible to convey so much with a violin? Her performance was riveting, way beyond merely playing of notes and strings. The music evocative, sounds dancing, stirring, encompassing a new art of communication.  She is an amazing musician, and an extraordinary communicator. Caro has just delivered her playlists, sharing her experience of women's music, which I am already excited about hearing. Better than the twelve days of Christmas, I have even more gifts awaiting from Mariana, Adrian, Annie, and Sky!

YES Institute student interns and volunteers hard at work! 

I started thinking about how karma works. As one of the founders of YES Institute, I began this work because I wanted to make a difference in the world for youth who struggled simply because of their orientation or experience of gender.  No matter how hard I have worked these past 15 years, it can’t begin to repay all the love, gifts, and growth I have received from the youth and families that come to YES Institute. I have always said the “brightest and the best” come to YES, and this season, like each one since YES began, their gifts are my favorite. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Engaging with Schools and Communities

YES speaker Sky at Hialeah Gardens.
The sixty volunteer members of Community Voices, the YES Institute speakers bureau, conducted over 142 presentations and courses reaching 3,800 people in Florida in addition to communities across the United States and Mexico this year.

Requests for community presentations and education courses has increased 24% over the last 3 years, and 94% of participants rate YES Institute presentations and courses "worthwhile" or "extremely worthwhile".

Last week, YES Institute presented to Honey Shine Mentoring Program and Ferguson and Hialeah Gardens high schools.
"I will be retiring this December, and after 33 years of teaching, I must admit that this is the most informative and moving presentation that I have ever attended." –Delma M.
YES speaker Jowharah with Honey Shine youth.
YES Institute thanks all the volunteer speakers and interns who have made our community dialogues and education courses possible.

Amanda, a new speaker with YES Institute shared, "A few months ago, I was searching for a place that I could feel safe, be who I am, and make an impact in the world. That is what I found at YES Institute, and so much more. After the Communication Solutions™ course, I walked away with new knowledge and tools to express how I feel, be genuine, and honor others. Also, being a part of Community Voices speakers bureau has enriched my life and has made a tremendous positive shift in how I interact in the world. I am able to share my story and let others know they are not alone."
"I got to see the mistakes everyone– including me–makes, by assuming that people are gay just because of their physical appearance." –High school student
If you would like your voice to make a difference, become a speaker and by joining us in our upcoming Communication Solutions™ course on Friday & Saturday, January 13–14, 2012. Learn the skills to create powerful dialogue and action in our community. Contact Brittney McCabe at 305-663-7195 or to register.
"Honestly, it helped me know that there's people out there who care." –High school student 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Eva Leivas-Andino is Purpose Prize® 2011 Featured Fellow

The Purpose Prize®, now in its sixth year, is the nation's only large-scale acknowledgement of people over 60 who are combining their passion and experience for social good. The Purpose Prize® awards up to $100,000 each to five people in encore careers creating new ways to solve tough social problems. The Prize was created to showcase the value of experience and disprove notions that innovation is the sole province of the young.

Eva Leivas-Andino.
Eva Leivas-Andino, YES Institute's Chief Financial Officer and Director of Programs in Spanish, became a finalist on the Encore Careers website and is one of their Featured Fellows for the 2011 year:

Twenty-one years ago, Eva Leivas-Andino, a political refugee from Cuba, was devastated when her son Paolo came out as gay. Terrified of what her family and friends would say she kept her son’s sexual orientation secret.  
Faced with his pain, Leivas-Andino decided it was time to “transform people's hearts.” An insecure volunteer at first, today Leivas-Andino is the Miami-based organization’s chief financial officer and director of programs in Spanish, working in partnership with religious communities, schools, social service agencies, hospitals and police departments throughout the country and Latin America. YES Institute reached more than 4,000 people in 2010 alone.
You can visit Eva's page on the Encore Careers website. And to our very own Abuela Evita, gracias con todo nuestro corazón por todo su amor y trabajo. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Anderson Cooper and Dr. Phil Interview YES Institute Board Member and Volunteer

On the Anderson Cooper talk show, YES Institute Board Member Dr. John J. Martin, Jr., and volunteer speaker Rajee spoke about the dangers of cosmetic procedures conducted outside of licensed, mainstream medical providers (air date Dec. 5). Those seeking physical procedures as part of a gender transition are a particularly vulnerable population, as many transgender people cannot afford transitioning expenses which are also typically not covered by insurance. Stigma and lack of awareness and education from mainstream providers further compels individuals to seek medical care elsewhere, often at their own peril.

Rajee and Dr. John J. Martin were also featured guests on the Dr. Phil talk show (air date Dec. 8).

The American Medical AssociationAmerican Psychological AssociationAmerican Congress for Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Endocrine Society all have policy statements and/or clinical guidelines calling for greater awareness, education and proper care for clients seeking a gender transition.

Health care organizations such as Children's Diagnostic & Treatment CenterCommunity Youth Services at Memorial RegionalJoe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Pediatric EndocrinologyMDC's Physician Assistant ProgramMiami Children's Hospital and Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity are some of the places that have received training from YES Institute. Contact us today to explore how your medical or mental health services team can schedule a YES Institute presentation on gender transitioning patients and client care at 305-663-7195.

On January 15, 16 and 17, YES Institute will be conducting our entire Gender/Orientation Series™, three days of courses providing an in-depth, research-based exploration of these and many other consequences facing youth, families and communities resulting from binary concepts of gender. Contact Brittney McCabe at 305-663-7195 or email to register and reserve your seat today. CE credits are available for Florida licensed nurses, therapists and teachers.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A High Price to Pay to Belong

For youth and adults pursuing a gender transition today, social stigma, lack of education for medical providers, high costs and insurance difficulties lead many to seek support and medical care elsewhere.

Medical transitioning sought outside of mainstream and licensed channels carries serious risks. CBS 4 Miami and the Miami Herald have both reported on victims of an alleged person posing as a doctor and injecting unsuspecting clients with cement and toxic substances instead of silicone.

Raj, a South Florida resident and a volunteer speaker with YES Institute for the past seven years, said she did not have the financial means to afford a licensed plastic surgeon and sought ought the alleged suspect after hearing of word-of-mouth referrals.

Raj at a YES Institute presentation for Florida Atlantic University graduate counseling students. 

"It becomes so dire that you want to match your outside with your inside that you’re willing to roll the dice and take your chances," Raj said of her decision. "As a transgender person, you’re thinking ‘Oh, my God, I can start to look like, I want to look like and I don’t have to spend a lot of money.'"

Dr. John J. Martin, Jr. 
Longtime Kiaora Society Donor and newly installed YES Institute Board Member, Dr. John J. Martin, Jr., has been treating Raj to correct and restore the botched and unlicensed procedures.
Dr. Martin has been giving Raj therapeutic injections in the the hopes to eventually soften the hard nodules formed in her skin and return her to a more normal appearance. "There is not an easy solution to this nightmare," says Martin. 
Dr. Martin has been treating Raj for the past three years. He says Raj thought she was getting silicone, and he doesn't know what the composition of the substance is now in her skin.

More and more leaders within various healthcare professions and specialties are recognizing the need for increased education and awareness about gender transitioning patients. For example, the American Congress for Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently released a policy statement that "opposes discrimination on the basis of gender identity and urges public and private health insurance plans to cover the treatment of gender identity disorder."

On January 15, 16 and 17, YES Institute will be conducting our entire Gender/Orientation Series™, three days of courses providing an in-depth, research-based exploration of these and many other consequences facing youth, families and communities resulting from binary concepts of gender.

The Gender/Orientation Series™takes place during Communicating Powerfully & ReVisioning Gender, our annual education weekend held in January. YES' two-day signature Communication Solutions™ course will be conducted on Friday and Saturday, January 13 & 14.

Contact Brittney McCabe at 305-663-7195 or email to register and reserve your seat today. CE credits are available for licensed nurses, therapists and teachers.