Erica Woodland Is Giving Culturally Sensitive Care a Major Platform

erica woodland

Photo by Margarita Corporan

While mental healthcare and service providers are (rightly) being profiled and promoted, there is a significant need for more culturally responsive services to be platformed. In particular, services dedicated to queer and trans people of color are needed, as these communities face unique mental health challenges that are often overlooked or misunderstood by mainstream mental health services.

While there are many services providing excellent care to these communities, the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN), founded by Erica Woodland, is certainly one to take note of.

Introducing Erica Woodland

Erica Woodland is a black, queer, non-binary therapist, and the founder of the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN). He is a licensed clinical social worker, therapist and he received his master’s degree in social work from Hunter College in New York City.

Woodland’s journey began in the early 2000s when he worked as a therapist at a community health center in Brooklyn, New York. It was here that he became acutely aware of the lack of support for queer and trans people of color within mental health services. Particularly, Woodland saw firsthand the impact of discrimination, trauma, and lack of access to care on his clients’ mental health and well-being.

Founding the NQTTCN

Noticing a need that needed to be filled, Woodland created the NQTTCN — a network of mental health practitioners, organizers, and activists dedicated to providing culturally responsive mental health services to queer and trans people of color — in 2016. Additionally, the NQTTCN also works as a national resource that provides training, education, and support to mental health professionals who work with queer and trans people of color.

NQTTCN was named best therapy service for LGBTQ+ individuals as part of Verywell Mind's 2022 Online Therapy Awards.

Furthermore, the NQTTCN also advocates for policies and practices that support queer and trans people of color’s mental health. This advocacy includes working with organizations, and collaborating with policymakers and funders to ensure that mental health services are accessible and culturally responsive. The NQTTCN also advocates for the inclusion of queer and trans people of color in research and data collection, as a means to better understand and serve the mental health needs of these communities.

Through his work with the NQTTCN, Woodland has become a leading voice in the movement for LGBTQ+ mental health advocacy and his contributions have been recognized by numerous organizations, including the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBT Task Force. In 2018, he received the Presidential Leadership Award from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).

And in 2019, he was selected as a TED Fellow and delivered a TED talk titled “How Queer and Trans People of Color Are Saving Mental Health Care.” Woodland’s work with the NQTTCN has also been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Forbes, and The Huffington Post.

Woodland’s work with the NQTTCN is not just about providing mental healthcare to queer and trans people of color. But rather, to also create a world where individuals within this community can thrive.

Thus, the NQTTCN’s work is grounded in the belief that mental health is a fundamental human right and that everyone deserves access to care that is culturally responsive. It also operates on the principle that queer and trans people of color have unique mental health needs that are often ignored or marginalized by mainstream mental health services. Therefore, his work also serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of intersectional advocacy and the need for culturally competent mental health services for us all.

Why Culturally Responsive Care Is an Essential Resource

Queer and trans people of color experience higher rates of discrimination, harassment, and violence, which can lead to higher rates of depression, suicidal ideation, and PTSD. Additionally, due to his intersecting identities he also faces added stressors and harm, such as racism, homophobia, and transphobia.

As a means to combat this, culturally responsive mental health services provide mental health care that is informed by a nuanced understanding of the cultural, social, and political factors that impact the mental health of queer and trans people of color. Woodland and NQTTCN are at the forefront of ensuring access to this kind of care.

Specifically, the services provided are conducted from a foundation that understands the ways that systemic oppression—such as racism, homophobia, and transphobia—impacts mental health outcomes. For example, one study found that transgender and gender diverse individuals were disproportionally burdened by substantial mental health disparities. 

He also works to create a safe and affirming space for queer and trans people of color by giving care that recognizes the needs and experiences of these communities, while also creating an environment where they feel seen, heard, and valued. As a fierce advocate for equitable care, Erica Woodland continues to be a major leader in the mental health space.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National LGBTQ Task Force. New analysis shows startling levels of discrimination against Black transgender people.

  2. Wilson EC, Chen YH, Arayasirikul S, Raymond HF, McFarland W. The impact of discrimination on the mental health of trans*female youth and the protective effect of parental support. AIDS Behav. 2016;20(10):2203–2211. DOI: 10.1007/s10461–016–1409–7

  3. Reisner SL, Benyishay M, Stott B, Vedilago V, Almazan A, Keuroghlian AS. Gender-affirming mental health care access and utilization among rural transgender and gender diverse adults in five northeastern US. States. Transgender Health. 2022;7(3):219–229. DOI: 10.1089/trgh.2021.0010

By Zuva Seven
Zuva Seven is a freelance writer, editor, and founder of An Injustice!. Follow her on Twitter here.