Gender Identity

Nonbinary and transgender students are a vibrant and valued part of the VCU community. We are present and contributing across all academic disciplines and throughout campus life while also navigating some significant stressors. The disproportionate rates of mental health problems, bullying and violence, housing or employment discrimination, and income inequality experienced by nonbinary and transgender people, particularly trans women and trans people of color, are well-documented (James et al., 2016).

College students may be arriving at VCU after experiences of bullying and discrimination in school or at home and may not have the same level of social or financial support when we arrive (See Stolzenberg & Hughes, 2017, Goldberg, 2018). Less publicized are daily challenges such as making the constant decisions about outness and visibility, being “the only one in the room," finding trans and nonbinary role models or mentors, and accessing mental health and medical providers who are knowledgeable and affirming. Nonbinary and trans college students often find strength and fulfillment in our journeys toward self-understanding and authentic self-expression. We also find strength in supporting each other and in advocating for ourselves and others.

While nonbinary and trans college students do report higher levels of mental health problems, there is no evidence that nonbinary or trans identity cause mental health problems. Rather, research shows that these problems are reactions to growing up in communities, institutions, and cultures that do not understand or celebrate gender diversity. An affirming therapist can provide a safe space to heal from these experiences. They can also help with exploring gender identity, making decisions about transitions if relevant, building positive relationships to our bodies and more, or to address other mental health concerns without fear that all problems will be pinned on being trans or nonbinary.

Affirming Services at UCS

Are you a trans or nonbinary student at VCU who is interested in mental health services? University Counseling Services strives to be an affirming space and here are some of the ways in which we do that:

  • Clinicians who specialize in working with nonbinary and trans individuals are available and can be requested during your Referral and Assessment Meeting (RAM).
  • Clinicians will welcome clients who want to explore gender-related concerns and can provide referrals and resources for additional support.
  • All staff members, including administrative staff, are Safe Zone trained.
  • Paperwork allows for clients to notify staff about their pronoun of use and the name that they use, in addition to legal name (required by law).
  • Students who are exploring or preparing for medical transition can request a consultation with a clinician in order to obtain a letter for affirming surgeries or hormone therapy (HT)
  • UCS clinicians lead the Rainbow Group, a weekly LGBTQIA+ support group that is available to all VCU students (prior registration required). 


Within VCU

Online Resources


  • Virginia Transgender Resource and Referral List
    This directory of resources is maintained by the Virginia Dept. of Health and includes information about different regions of Virginia.
  • Transgender Assistance Project of Virginia
    Organization by and for trans people that offers safe emergency and temporary transitional housing to homeless/precariously housed transgender adults in Virginia.
  • Planned Parenthood of Virginia
    Provides gender-affirming primary care as well as hormone therapy services with an informed consent model (no letters needed).
  • Nationz Foundation
  • Richmond organization by and for LGBTQ people that facilitates support groups for trans women, trans men, and non-binary folks and also provides emergency housing support, food pantry, HIV testing/safer sex resources and more.
  • Health Brigade Transgender Services
    Richmond health center provides a legal clinic to assist all trans and nonbinary people with name and gender marker changes, as well as medical services for those without health insurance.
  • Virginia Transgender Information and Empowerment Summit
    An annual conference for nonbinary and trans communities in Richmond.