Researching for LGBTQ Health

Building Competence, Building Capacity: 2SLGBTQ2+ Focused Trauma-Informed Care

The goal of the Building Competence, Building Capacity project was to increase the capacity of organizations, as well as multi-disciplinary health and service providers, in providing trauma-informed care to members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Our pilot workshops ran in November 2019 and 2020 with financial support from the Public Health Agency of Canada. The workshop was piloted across Ontario in Toronto, London, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Timmins, Kingston and Windsor, with funding support from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The workshop materials we created are now housed at Rainbow Health Ontario. If you are interested in training on trauma-informed care for 2SLGBTQ+ communities, please visit rainbow health ontario - education & training and look for "2SLGBTQ Trauma Informed Care."

This project is important because there is a great deal of evidence that 2SLGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience violence and/or trauma than straight or cisgender (i.e., non-trans) people.(1) Additionally, 2SLGBTQ+ people face barriers in accessing health and social services as a result of a lack of 2SLGBTQ+ capacity on the part of service providers or the organizations they work within.(2,3)

Given that many 2SLGBTQ+ people will be in need of support related to experiences of violence/trauma, it is important that organizations and service providers have the ability to skillfully meet the needs of 2SLGBTQ+ people from a trauma-informed lens.

Our Project's Values

Trauma- and Violence-Informed

We recognize the far-reaching impacts of trauma on individuals and the ways in which service providers and organizations may unintentionally perpetuate trauma.


We are rooted in a strong evidence-base for 2SLGBTQ+ peoples' need for trauma-informed services and an awareness of the barriers 2SLGBTQ+ folks experience in accessing competent healthcare and social services, which contribute to health disparities.


We are committed to meaningful and responsible community engagement in all of our work.

We recognize that research and care delivery have historically (and contemporaneously) harmed 2SLGBTQ+ peoples, and that it is important to include 2SLGBTQ+ peoples in all levels of this project to redress historical and contemporary harms.


We recognize that healthcare and social services are sites of historical and contemporary racism and injustice. We bring an anti-racist lens to our work by encouraging the identification and elimination of racism in systems, organizational structures, policies and practice, and attitudes so that power is redistributed and shared equitably.

Cultural Safety

We recognize that healthcare and social services have been sites of historical and contemporary colonization and traumatization. We are committed to ensuring that 2SLGBTQ+ Indigenous peoples feel safe and respected while accessing services.

We recognize that the Indigenous concept of Cultural Safety may also apply to non-Indigenous peoples that experience systemic discrimination and violence, such as non-Indigenous LGBTQ+ peoples.

Health Equity

We are committed to an intersectional, anti-oppressive, holistic understanding of health that is attentive to the ways in which an individual's social location can inform their health status and access to services.

We believe that social justice is needed improve the health of diverse 2SLGBTQ+ folks.

Team Members

Lori E. Ross, PhD

Lori Ross

Dr. Lori Ross (she/her) is an Associate Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, and an Affiliate Scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. She is the leader of the Re:searching for LGBTQ2S+ Health Team. Much of her research focuses on understanding the mental health and service needs of marginalized populations including lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and two-spirit (LGBTQ2S+) people, in order to improve access to services for these communities. Although she feels very privileged to have the opportunity to do this important work, Lori's most rewarding job is as Mom to her two kids.

Merrick Pilling, PhD

Merrick Pilling

Merrick Pilling (he/him) is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Social and Behavioural Health Sciences Division of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto and a Contract Lecturer in the School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University. His work employs intersectional, Mad Studies/Disability Studies approaches to understanding mental distress in marginalized groups, emphasizing the importance of centering mad/psychiatric survivor knowledge and the lived experience of marginalization. He has developed and delivered curriculum for adult learners with direct service backgrounds on the following topics: intersectional, anti-oppressive approaches to delivering mental health services, trauma-informed care, two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) cultural competence, anti-oppression and social justice, positive space, and trans and non-binary identities.

Jenna MacKay, MA, MSW, RSW

Jenna MacKay

Jenna (she/her) holds a Master of Arts in applied Psychology and a Master of Social Work. She works in private practice as a registered social worker in Belleville, with a focus on trauma and providing 2SLGBTQ+ affirming support. She has over 12 years of diverse work experience in academic, non-profit, hospital and government contexts. Her work has focused on trauma, mental health, bisexuality, and service access. She loves her cat and struggles to keep her house plants healthy.

Michelle Tam, MA

Michelle Tam

Michelle Tam (she/her) is a PhD student at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. She holds a MA in Gender Studies from Queen's University. Her SSHRC-funded master's thesis research focused on understandings of sexuality that reflect on racism, citizenship, diaspora, and transnational politics of sexuality, specifically among Chinese Canadian LGBTQ+ women and non-binary people. Currently, her doctoral research is focused on reproductive justice and access for racialized LGBTQ2S+ folks. In addition to being a researcher, Michelle is a community organizer and works with non-profit organizations around the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and sexual health.

Olivia Taylor

Olivia Taylor

Olivia Taylor (she/her) is a first year MPH Health Promotion student at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto. Recently graduated from the University of Waterloo Health Sciences program, she has gained the knowledge and skills from various disciplines and has developed an interest in LGBTQ2S+ health. Through sexual health courses, co-op placements in student health services, guest speakers, and course projects in public health policy, Olivia has gained a greater understanding of LGBTQ2S+ health and the barriers in accessing competent healthcare among the LGBTQ2S+ community.

Giselle Gos, R.P., Ph.D.

Giselle Gos

Giselle Gos, (they/them) has been a psychotherapist in private practice in Toronto since 2016. They are a non-binary, transmasculine, queer, fat, white, settler, trauma survivor living with an invisible disability. Their therapy practice is anti-oppression informed, and integrates relational, psychodynamic and somatic psychotherapy. Since 2013, they have been working and volunteering in queer community health and research through various organizations, including Re:searching for LGBTQ2S+ Health, Planned Parenthood Toronto, Supporting Our Youth, and The 519 Volunteer Counselling Program and have published on LGBTQ health, mental health and identity. They have been interrogating the gender binary for as long as they can remember, and completed a Ph.D. on gender and subjectivity in literature in 2012. They have over a decade of teaching and facilitation experience. They sometimes describe their gender as "nerd" and enjoy spending their time watching sci-fi and reading and writing fanfiction.

Zafiro Andrade-Romo, MSc, MD

Zafiro Andrade-Romo

Zafiro (she/her) is a PhD student at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. She holds a MSc in Health Systems and is also a Medical Doctor. She worked at the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico and has collaborated on research projects across Mexico, Brazil, and Nigeria, ranging from those focused-on HIV/AIDS in men who have sex with men, to research focused on sexual and reproductive health in women. Currently, her doctoral research is focused on the mental health of lesbian and bisexual women in Mexico. She loves eating and cooking Mexican and Japanese food with her wife and playing fetch with her kitten (yes, kitten ^‿^).

Jen Goldberg, RM, MPH

Jen Goldberg

Jen (she/they) is a PhD student at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, supervised by Dr Lori Ross, and has a Master of Public Health in Family and Community Medicine with a Collaborative Specialization in Indigenous Health from the same school. Jen joined the Re:searching for 2SLGBTQ+ Health team in 2018. Jen's interests include sexual and reproductive health equity for queer, trans and nonbinary people, and arts-based approaches to health professional education that build capacity to provide safe and celebratory midwifery and primary care to queer, trans and nonbinary people. Jen is the Primary Investigator on a research project to explore the attitudes of Ontario midwives towards sexual and gender minority people. Jen is also a Registered Midwife with 25 years of clinical experience and has been an Adjunct Clinical Professor at Ryerson University and a clinical preceptor in the Midwifery Education Programs at Ryerson, McMaster and Laurentian Universities. Jen is a Partner at Community Midwives of Toronto.

Project Resources

► The following are some of the resources used in our workshop. For more about the workshop curriculum, please refer to Development and implementation of a 2SLGBTQ+ competent trauma-informed care intervention or get in touch with us.

Module 1: Principles of Trauma-Informed Care and the Alignment with 2SLGBTQ+ Cultural Competence

Module 2: Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

  • No handouts

Module 3: Sexualities: Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Queer+ Identities

Module 4: Gender Identities: Two-Spirit, Trans, and Non-Binary Identities

Module 5: Trauma and 2SLGBTQ+ People

Module 6: Implementing 2SLGBTQ+ Trauma-Informed Care at the Individual, Organizational, and Systems-Level

Continuing Education

This document includes a list of sources we consulted to create the curriculum, as well as resources for further education.


1. Roberts, A. L., Austin, S. B., Corliss, H. L., Vandermorris, A. K., & Koenen, K. C. (2010). Pervasive Trauma Exposure Among US Sexual Orientation Minority Adults and Risk of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. American Journal of Public Health, 100:12, 2433-2441.

2. Pilling, M., Howison, M., Bellamy, C., Davidson, L., Frederick, T., Ross, L., McKenzie, K., & Kidd, S. (2017). Fragmented Inclusion: Community Participation and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer People with Diagnoses of Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. 87(5), 606-613.

3. Ross, L. E., Gibson, M. F., Daley, A., Steele, L. S., & Williams, C. C. (2018). In spite of the system: A mixed methods analysis of mental health service experiences of LGBTQ people living in poverty in Ontario, Canada. PLoS ONE, 13(8): e0201437.