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Transgender people in North Carolina and the greater U.S. face daily discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations; barriers to accessing physical and mental health care; and violence and harassment at home, work, and school. The toll that this ongoing discrimination takes on the bodies and minds of trans and non-binary-identified individuals, especially youth and people of color, plays a critical role in the suicide epidemic that plagues the transgender community. Drawing on concepts from Pat Ogden’s Modulation Model of trauma treatment and Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory, this presentation will integrate theories from the field of trauma-informed, attachment-focused somatic psychology with intersectional, gender-affirming social work practice to explore the impact that oppression has on the nervous systems of trans individuals. Participants will be introduced to the Gender Affirmative Model of Care and practical strategies to enhance their work with transgender and non-binary clients.


Heather Branham, LCSW (she/her/hers) has been studying gender and sexuality for almost 20 years. In her private practice based in Asheville, NC, Heather specializes in somatic trauma therapy through a healing justice lens and is committed to supporting queer and trans clients. She has completed Level II Sensorimotor Psychotherapy training and is a certified yoga teacher. Her previous clinical work focused on treating perinatal mood and anxiety disorders and early intervention with traumatized children.



  • Caldwell C. & Leighton, L. (Eds.) (2018). Oppression and the Body: Roots, Resistance, and Resolutions. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.
  • Hidalgo, M. A., Garofalo, R., Ehrensaft, D., Rosenthal, S. M., Tishelman, A. C., Spack, N. P., Clark, L. F.,
  • Olson, J. (October 01, 2013). The gender affirmative model: What we know and what we aim to learn. Human Development, 56, 5, 285-290
  • James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). Executive
  • Summary of the Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality.
  • Ogden, P., & Minton, K. (2000, October). Sensorimotor psychotherapy: One method for processing traumatic memory, Traumatology, 6 (3), 1–21.

 Resources:  Webinar Handouts Gender sexuality spectrum |

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