On a chilly winter afternoon, a therapist and advocate for the underserved Black Transgender community sits at home practicing a little self-care. For Beverly “Mecca” Moss of Moss Counseling Services, PLLC, self-care looks like starting a new food blog on Instagram, where she’ll be blogging about prepping and preparing vegan meals.
Self-care is important to Moss. “I give so much energy taking care of other folks, I’m at a space in my life where I need to take care of me. Part of that care is being vegan and diligent about it.”
Undoubtedly, Moss does expend loads of energy caring and advocating for her clients and causes. As for how she manages shouldering the burdens of those she assists on their multiple journeys of recovery, the Brooklyn-born native and mother of two reflects on her own experiences. “I was a young mother. I had my son [when I was] 15. So, I know something about the triumphs of overcoming obstacles and resiliency.”
Today Moss is a licensed mental health counselor who has resided in Charlotte for the past 20 years. She’s been practicing therapy for 10 years, and two years ago she expanded her expertise to include a license as a Clinical Addiction Specialist. Her area of focus is transgender health care.
As a cisgender queer woman, what interested you about servicing the Trans community?
Initially it was the LGBT community and adolescents, but I found myself embracing the Trans community more when I started doing advocacy work with the Freedom Center for Social Justice. I did that for 10 years. I’m a founding member along with [Bishop] Tonyia Rawls and [Clinical Psychologist] Lisa Griffin. My thing has always been to service marginalized communities. Typically, these are communities of people of color, impoverished communities and children.
How did you begin working with the Trans Community?
In January of 2012, Dr. Lisa Griffin, an area psychologist who had cared for the trans community in the Charlotte area for 15 years was moving and wanted to create a group of providers for gender diverse individuals – The Charlotte Transgender Healthcare Group. At that time there were only about five providers offering HRT [Hormone Replacement Therapy], seven mental health professionals and one surgeon. So, it became a collaborative effort to provide transgender health care and the first in Charlotte.
Why is the work important to you?
Someone has to be on the forefront in terms of the POC (People Of Color) population within these communities. At one time, I was the only one, especially for those who were uninsured or facing financial deficits. It was important for me to give of myself. It felt like it was my purpose and fit in with my beginning goal of working with LGBT youth of color.
Coming from a diverse environment myself, I hung out in The Village [New York’s Gayborhood] with Queer folks growing up but I felt like I still didn’t know enough – because it’s so much deeper than that. Doing this work gave me the opportunity to serve and learn. It was a unique learning because ultimately, whenever I showed up people were open to sharing information with me they otherwise wouldn’t have [with others]. I guess it was my authenticity. <chuckling> But seriously, exposure to first-hand experience is what gave me the education, it wasn’t the books. I was showing up, being available, that sort of thing.
What obstacles to providing care have you noticed or dealt with?
There’s not enough Black and Brown representation or integration within programs. Health insurance and employment are also obstacles. Without employment, there is no insurance, so many don’t have insurance. A lot of times, that’s where a lack of health care comes into play. Without Maslow’s five basic psychological needs (food, water, shelter, clothing, sleep) being met, everything is that more challenging. If you don’t have housing, how can you have stable mental health? We need a community that is looking at intersectionality and addressing those needs. Especially here, in the southern bible belt where there’s still so much inequality and a real need for individuals [who can service and advocate for the marginalized] to show up.
When it comes to leadership, what are your thoughts on transgender representation?
I sat on the board of Transcend Charlotte until a Black trans woman showed interest. When she did, I bowed out because finally, there was true representation of a person who lives a Trans life. Sometimes as organizers we try to have our feet in multiple arenas – but everyone isn’t meant to be on the forefront. Trans spaces – need Trans leadership because they know their story and what their needs are – better than anyone else
Identity seems important to you and the work that you do. How do you identify?
What does that mean for Beverly Moss?
Having that Agape kinda’ love. For me, it means, being interested in individuals for who they are and not because [of] their genitalia – regardless of their sex and gender.
When I first started out, I was straight, or I thought I was anyhow, <laughing>. Then, I was bisexual and then I was lesbian. When I turned 50, I realized I wasn’t any of that and found myself engaged in a relationship with a trans male. At that point I came to realize that it was really just about the person as a whole. Loving individuals as they are.
Was the transition of that kind of self-discovery a difficult one to make?
As a person who was frequently in lesbian circles it was awkward at first and almost felt like coming out again. Many people in the [LGBT] community don’t get it – why a person would identify as pansexual. They’d ask why I wouldn’t identify as bisexual. For me, pansexual says I’m open for love no matter how it shows up, it’s bigger and boarder than bisexuality. So I’m a Queer pansexual. I identify as Queer as well because Queer, to me, is a person whose gender identity doesn’t correspond to traditional norms.
What brings you joy?
Seeing fruit from the work I’ve done. Knowing that if I leave this earth today, I have touched individuals lives and been able to alter, save, shift or make a difference. And, thinking about the [LGBT] community now, compared to when I first arrived in Charlotte, there’s been a tremendous amount of growth.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I ride a Kawasaki 900 motorcycle and just started roller skating again.
Any final thoughts you’d like to share with Qnotes readers?
It’s necessary that we all work together. That’s how you build rapport and relationships.