After posting here and a few posts on Instagram, I got an email from the Executive Director of CAMFT. I will show it below, but she apologized for not responding to my email. I get that emails do get lost. She listed significant changes they had made in the last year. 

My personal opinion is as follows. The revisions to the Letter to the Editor are excellent. They should make sure that no group is ever treated the way that transgender people were in the initial letter.  

I am also impressed with the DEI trainings and adding those for committee volunteers. I hope that this continues as I think it should be an annual training as there are many issues to cover. 

The legal issues are also a positive.  Many of us have a lot of CAMFT baggage from 2008, when we felt betrayed around marriage equality. The CAMFT Board’s approval of the motion to support the California Right to Marry proposition and Repeal Prop 8 Amendment proposition is a positive move towards healing that experience. 

It also indicates to me that perhaps the Board has changed their views. 

They did have presentations at both the 2023 and 2024 conference on Gender Affirming Care (I did not look back further than that). One criticism is that one 2023 presentation was a lunch presentation and it appears to have cost $70 which may not have made it accessible to some. 

Overall, this seems like a great effort. My big ask moving forward is that CAMFT considers a statement similar to the one the APA made earlier this year. 

I have been asking all professional organizations to do this as I feel like it is a necessary part of the advocacy and education work that continues to need to happen. I would also like a future The Therapist magazine dedicated to the topic. It could be issues on Gender Affirming Care, LGBTQ+ issues overall, or I would really love something addressing how what is going on in our country right now affects marginalized people in general. It seems that the ED spoke some about that in her interview regarding the LGBTQ+ community, but obviously, this is something that crosses all marginalized groups. 

I will put it in my calendar to reach out again next year and see what additional progress has been made. I thank Joy Alafia for her commitment to this.

Here is her email to me in its entirety without edits.

Hello Cathy,

I hope this email finds you well.  Thank you for your email and information shared.  Please accept my sincere apologies for the response delay.  I was traveling much of the day on May 30th and I was recently alerted to the fact that I had failed to respond to your communication.  I actually discovered that there were a considerable number of messages that day that I had missed.  My apologies as it is my goal to respond to emails in a timely manner.  I am out of the office this week, however I wanted to respond upon this discovery, given the great delay.

Thank you also for continuing to hold me and CAMFT accountable. We are keenly focused on continuing to demonstrate our commitment to the LGBTQ+ community from various angles including advocacy, financial commitment, training, improving our processes, increasing representation, and being out-front on key issues. I appreciate the opportunity to share just a few updates of what CAMFT has done since May 2023, below:

  • CAMFT has completely revised our editorial guidelines, which encompasses submissions for the Letter to the Editor.  Our process emphasized that we strive to align our communications with both our mission and DEI values.  Below are a few of the criteria for communications:
    • Ethical communication with inclusivity and cultural sensitivity;
    • Non-oppressive terms and equitable representation;
    • Follow evidenced-based research and clinical best practices from reputable sources;
    • Must be respectful in tone;
    • Communications that potentially impact marginalized groups or touch on current controversial social themes, may go through an approval process before being shared through any CAMFT platforms;
    • Employ professional readers with cultural competencies to help address any unconscious bias.

We have already put the new process in practice, for a few articles published.

  • CAMFT continues to support the LGBTQ+ caucus, attending a fundraising event in October 2023 as a main sponsor and we plan to be a sponsor for the upcoming 2024 evetn.
  • Representation matters – we are pleased to again have a member from the LGBTQ+ community serve on CAMFT’s Board who provides valuable lived experience to the Board’s overall direction.
  • We were honored to have member Gretchen Cooper, LMFT present at CAMFT’s Annual Conference on Gender Affirming Care. Gretchen was the author of the article “Gender Affirming Care” published in the Therapist magazine. This is the article that prompted the letter to the editor.  We are grateful to Gretchen for the willingness to continue to share the importance of educating MFTs on this important practice.
  • CAMFT provided a safe space at the Annual Conference for LGBTQ+ members to meet while attending the event.  The LGBTQ+ community meet-up event provided an opportunity to find deeper community within CAMFT while at the annual conference and also build networks of support.  I briefly met with those in attendance and the feedback was very positive.
  • CAMFT honored Sen. Caroline Menjivar with our ‘State Legislator of the Year Award’ for her unwavering dedication to mental health rights! Her groundbreaking bill, SB 372 (Deadnaming), was proudly co-sponsored by CAMFT, and has been in effect since Jan 1, 2024.  The legislation requires the BBS to use the licensees or registrant’s name and not reference a deadname in its online license verification system.
  • We hosted an event on the steps of the State Capitol to promote this legislation and the importance to respect the names of licensees and not to utilize deadnames.  Board members and members at-large joined us in this effort.  We were particularly pleased that Senator Menjivar’s wife, also an MFT, attended the event.  Our work on this legislation was amplified via several news outlets including CalMatters and The Capitol Morning Report, reaching key decision and policy makers in Sacramento and the news outlets’ readership at-large.

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  • On June 7th, I had the privilege of speaking to KTVU Fox news in the San Francisco Bay Area. The reporters cited data form the CDC that shows LGBTQ+ adults are twice as likely to report they’ve been diagnosed with depression and nearly a third report having poor mental health.  I shared that the political climate is challenging, particularly with the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in this country.  I advised that many individuals have to fight to simply exist, and exerting such energy takes a toll; and for LGBTQ+ people of color these challenges can be compounded.  I emphasized the importance of eliminating the stigma that can be attached to therapy as well and reducing barriers to accessing care.  I also shared the importance to have more therapists from the LGBTQ+ community in our field and steps we can take to improve the pipeline.  During the interview, I shared the importance of culturally competent care, and emphasized that CAMFT has offered training on gender-affirming care.  This CAMFT interview was ultimately picked up by several other media outlets, including MSN and Yahoo! news, and has had 3.4M views.

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Again, I genuinely thank you for following up and requesting what has been done since May, 2023.  There is still much work to do.  I continue to share these updates via various mediums including social media, CAMFT’s State of the Profession, chapter events, and our eNewsletter.

We remain committed to adhering to our DEI values, supporting and offering education on affirming care, and uplifting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.  This is an ongoing effort that remains central to CAMFT’s goals.

Finally, I wanted to advise that I’m out of the office this week, so please forgive if any follow up communication comes next week.

Warm regards,

Joy Alafia

Executive Director

Pronouns: She/her

California Association of Marriage & Family Therapists