By NCLR Legal Director

On January 1, for the first time in history, transgender Americans will be able to openly enlist in our nation’s military. This is an incredible moment, and one we can all celebrate.

We know that many transgender Americans have been planning and preparing for over a year for this day.  And many others will now begin considering this as a real option for the very first time.

The military has put considerable time into preparing for this day, and has developed guidelines for those charged with processing new recruits. If you are planning to begin the enlistment process in January or in the coming months, we encourage you to connect with a knowledgeable recruiter, or with an organization like SPART*A or OUTSERVE-SLDN, to ensure you understand the guidelines and requirements.

It is in the interest of both the military and our community for the enlistment process to go smoothly, and we believe it will.  That said, it is possible there will be small hiccups as things get underway. If you do encounter anything confusing or concerning, we encourage you to remain calm, and know that it does not mean the problem will be ongoing.  Do reach out to one of our legal organizations and let us know of your concern:

Military service is a serious and admirable undertaking. We are grateful for the many courageous transgender Americans who are currently serving and who will begin serving soon, with dignity and honor.

Thank you.


Arapahoe House Closing

On December 17, 2017, in Uncategorized, by drneilcannon1
After 42 years of non-profit service to the metro Denver community, Denver’s largest substance abuse treatment center is closing.  Arapahoe House will close on January 2, 2018 due to the inability to financially sustain the cost of delivering their life-changing programs.  Everyone in the mental health community in Denver knows this is a sad day for our county.
Since 1975, Arapahoe House has served as a safety-net provider of substance use disorder treatment for Coloradans. Unfortunately, the cost to care for these patients is greater than the funding provided by state and federal sources including Medicaid.  This will affect some 5,000 patients in the Denver area annually.
According to CEO, Mike Butler, here is the timeline:
  • On December 15, 2017 at 5 p.m., new patient admissions will stop.
  • Arapahoe House will close on January 2, 2018.
  • Treatment for current patients in both residential and outpatient settings will conclude by Jan. 2, 2018 and most staff will be laid off then.
  • Arapahoe House already is working with the treatment community to ensure as smooth a transition as possible. Every effort will be made to place current patients with other providers.
  • In order to continue to help community members seeking treatment and provide information about substance use disorders, Arapahoe House’s call center (303-657-3700) will remain open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, through Jan. 2. We have increased the call center’s capacity in anticipation of more calls.

Many of us are still scrambling to find alternative resources for our clients.  If you need support, here is a link to many low cost and free substance abuse treatment centers.

Banned Words

On December 16, 2017, in Uncategorized, by drneilcannon1

I’m old enough to remember when comedian, George Carlin’s “seven dirty words” were banned from TV.  I am not old enough to remember when another White House banned the CDC from using seven “dirty words.”  According to Fox News, CNN, and the Washington Post, the White House has banned the CDC from using these seven words: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence –based” and “science-based.”  How then, are we supposed to refer to our transgender bothers and sisters, daughters and sons, mothers and fathers? One of the classes I teach is called, “Sexual Diversity.”  The therapy that most competent licensed clinicians practice is “evidence-based” with the alternative being experimental therapy.   I don’t think it matters what side of the political isle we stand on, these are confusing times!


Love Serves All, Hate Serves None

On August 22, 2017, in Uncategorized, by drneilcannon1

As AASECT’s Colorado Section Leader for the past decade, I am proud to be an active member on days like today when such a powerful message is sent…

On behalf of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT), we are heartbroken, disappointed, outraged, and horrified by the recent displays of racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and violence in Charlottesville. We recognize that white supremacy is not limited to this historical time or place. We also recognize that bigoted actions such as those displayed have deep and lasting impacts on us all, including our students, patients and clients. As sexuality educators, counselors, and therapists, we want to re-iterate our core values described in our Vision of Sexual Health where we note: “AASECT also opposes all abuses of sexuality including, but not limited to, harassment, intimidation, coercion, prejudice, and the infringement of any individual’s sexual and civil rights.” While this particular statement pertains to sexuality, we want to be clear that AASECT opposes all forms of harassment, intimidation, coercion, prejudice, and the infringement of any individual’s civil rights.

Black lives matter. The racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism and other messages and acts of violence cast toward communities of color and faith communities must end. People of all faiths, genders, races, ethnicities, nationalities, sexual orientations, and abilities have human rights, and those rights must be respected. As an organization, we acknowledge that our journey for cultural competency and progress will never end because there is always more to learn, teach, and share. We care deeply and are committed to continuing to address these issues, and living our values, in our own work. As an organization that represents therapists, counselors, and educators, we are committed to the work of helping everyone understand the cultural and historical impact that bias, discrimination, racism, and trauma have on personal, psychological, sexual, and emotional experiences.


AASECT Board of Directors & AASECT Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

August 2017


Am I Normal?

On July 20, 2017, in Uncategorized, by drneilcannon1

If you are like most people, you have probably wondered how you compare sexually to others.  Here is a summary from a large newly published study led by Dr. Debby Herbenick from the Indian University and her team of researchers.

The survey was confidential and the researchers never had access to respondents’ identifiers. Respondents reported on demographic items, lifetime and recent sexual behaviors, and the appeal of 50+ sexual behaviors. Most (>80%) reported lifetime masturbation, vaginal sex, and oral sex. Lifetime anal sex was reported by 43% of men (insertive) and 37% of women (receptive). Common lifetime sexual behaviors included wearing sexy lingerie/underwear (75% women, 26% men), sending/receiving digital nude/ semi-nude photos (54% women, 65% men), reading erotic stories (57% of participants), public sex (43%), role-playing (22%), tying/being tied up (20%), spanking (30%), and watching sexually explicit videos/DVDs (60% women, 82% men). Having engaged in threesomes (10% women, 18% men) and playful whipping (13%) were less common. Lifetime group sex, sex parties, taking a sexuality class/workshop, and going to BDSM parties were uncommon (each <8%).

Thank you, Debby for such an important contribution to our field!

© 2017 Herbenick et al

Dr. Alfred Kinsey

On June 29, 2017, in Uncategorized, by drneilcannon1

© Kevin Ruck | ID 79058695

Dr. Alfred Kinsey was born during this month of 1894, two years before my beloved grandmother was born.   Having some sense of that era by learning so much from my grandmother, I would like to take a moment to celebrate Dr. Kinsey.

To this day, Dr. Alfred Kinsey remains one of the most important sex researchers in history.  The Kinsey Institute was named after him at the University of Indiana.  Liam Neeson played Kinsey in the movie called Kinsey and it is definitely worth watching.  When I was going to “sex school” I was required to read Kinsey’s two hallmark books that were published in 1948 and 1953 respectively. The first book was about male sexuality and the second book was about female sexuality.  I counted at least 5,000,000 data points that Kinsey and his small team collected during this monumental research in the era before PC’s and programs like Access data base management systems.  It was truly remarkable!  My favorite quote from Kinsey nearly 2,000 pages:

“Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual.  The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats.  Not all things are black, nor are all things white. . . .  [O]nly the human mind invents categories and tries to force facts into separate pigeonholes.  The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects.  The sooner we learn this concerning human sexual behavior the sooner we shall reach a sound understanding of the realities of sex.” (Male, p. 639)


University of Michigan: Go Blue!

On May 1, 2017, in Uncategorized, by drneilcannon1

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© Snehitdesign |


For current students and/or alumni at the University of Michigan School of Social Work Sexual Health Certificate Program, the dates for this summer’s “Neil Talks” were just announced.  We hope you can join us.  Please note, all times are in the wonderful city of Ann Arbor, MI (Eastern Time).

Neil Talks


Two Legends in the Field of Human Sexuality Pass

On April 26, 2017, in Uncategorized, by drneilcannon1

Albert Freedman (Ph.D., 1981) died April 11th at the age of 95.  As Dr. Ted McIlvenna said, “Al Freedman is a man for all seasons of sexology as creator, academic and supporter.  Creator through Forum, Penthouse, Variations and women’s sexual advocacy; academically as a scholarly teacher, champion and person I consider the greatest friend of sexology of the 20th century.” 

Margo Rila (Ed.D., 1977) died yesterday after a protracted illness.  Her background includes social work and encounter group work.  She also served as coordinator of San Francisco Sex Information, a community telephone service.  


New approach allows more options for sexual assault victims

The Commerce City Police Department (a neighboring city of Denver) recently became the sixth city in the nation to be certified by the You Have Options Program, a national program that focuses on changing how law enforcement responds to sexual violence.

The program centers on the victim, giving him or her choices when reporting and control over the investigative process. YHOP allows victims to feel more at ease, which allows them to move forward with the case and not get discouraged. The program also focuses on conducting thorough investigations of offenders in the community.

“Our usual response to sexual assault puts many barriers to victims when reporting and accessing the medical and advocacy services they need,” said Kim Messina, victim services coordinator. “The You Have Options Program is designed to break down all of these barriers to allow victims to report in a way that is best for them.”

The traditional law enforcement response to sexual violence may discourage sexual assault victims because they feel there is a lack of confidentiality, they fear their story will not be believed and their report will be delayed. This prevents victims from seeking assistance through the criminal justice system. As a result, law enforcement often doesn’t receive the information necessary to hold sexual offenders accountable, and those offenders go on to victimize others.

Through YHOP, victims can report online, in-person, submit a medical report only, through a third person or make an anonymous report. This new approach also ensures that every victim reporting will be believed and have access to medical and advocacy services.

In partnership with the University of Colorado Denver, CCPD carried out exhaustive research and data analysis to find the best practices on how officers relate to victims, investigate assaults and find suspects.

“A couple years ago, we initiated a review into how the department handles sexual assault cases and one of the things we determined was that we can do a better job serving the victims,” said Dennis Moon, deputy chief. “YHOP is an excellent example of CCPD determining the best practice and implementing a program that is victim-centered and offender-focused, ultimately paving the way to provide exceptional service to victims.”

It is estimated that one in four women and one in seven men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, and only 10 percent of the cases are reported. In Commerce City there were 63 reported cases of sexual assault last year.

In conjunction with Brighton’s Police Department, which was also one of the first departments to join the program, the Victim’s Service Unit has 17 volunteers, five victim advocates and one coordinator, who are all available to help victims anytime.

Every Commerce City police officer, victim advocate and member of the department has been trained on YHOP’s 20 elements, which center on the victim and finding offender, as well as the common behavior and reactions of trauma.

“Now, through the certification of YHOP, every member of the Commerce City Police Department will be able to assist any resident who calls asking information about the program,” Messina said.

To learn more about the program and CCPD’s responsibilities as a certified agency, visit


Please Help Stop Hate!

On November 19, 2016, in GLBT, LGBT, sex therapy, by drneilcannon1


My heart broke this morning when I heard about this hateful act that occurred right here in Denver.

Despite the nature of the hate crime that occurred yesterday, this post is not about politics.  It is about love, safety, education and awareness.


Tomorrow of all days is Transgender Day of Remembrance. This is the day we honor transgender folks who are savagely murdered each year as a result of their gender identity. Yesterday a trans woman right here in the Capital Hill district of Denver was the victim of a hate crime. Look what somebody did to her car.

It appears this act of hate was fueled by the election as “Trump” was written on the hood of her car.  This is but one example as to why so many members of the LGBT community are terrified by the election results.  Can you imagine how violating this must have felt to her? What else must she be worried about?  Who is watching her?


I’m on the Board of Trustees at the Gender Identity Center of Colorado and have been volunteering at this special community resource center for the past decade.

Regardless of where we each stand politically, we all need to step up and care for our neighbors. How would you feel if this woman was your friend? Perhaps you’ve never had a trans friend, or at least you didn’t think you did. In a recent Minnesota study, 2.5% of high school students reported being transgender, gender-queer or gender non-conforming.  That is about the same percentage as there are for Jewish people living in America.  If you know a Jewish person, odds are you also probably know somebody who is gender non-conforming but may not feel safe to come out.


  1. HELP RAISE AWARENESS: Tell at least one person in your circle of influence about this local hate crime as a way to raise awareness.  “Hey — Did you hear the horrible news about the hate crime in Cap Hill?” If you have children, employees, or students; use this as an opportunity to educate.  Diversity is not to be feared, but rather it is the backbone of our great country.  Forward this link to your friends, family and co-workers.  It’s not as cute as a cat video, but it just might save somebody’s life!
  2. EDUCATE: Transgender folks identify differently than the gender they were assigned at birth. That’s all.  We use the term gender non-conforming because gender identity and gender expression are on a spectrum.  To keep it simple however, you can simply educate by saying that most trans people are either Male to Female (MtF) or Female to Male (FtM). Make it simple and age appropriate.  You can explain to young children that a Male to Female for instance, has a boy body with a girl heart.
  3. IDENTITY vs. ORIENTATION. As an ally, explain that gender identity is who we are, while sexual orientation is who we are attracted to.
  4. USE PROPER PRONOUNS.  Use the person’s preferred pronouns.  A simple act of respect is to use the pronouns that the person identifies with. In other words, most MtF’s want to be referred to as she or her. If you are not sure, just don’t use any pronoun.  Sentences don’t need to start or end with sir or ma’am. These are simple acts of kindness that cost nothing but can make the day of a gender variant person.
  5. DONATE. The Gender Identity Center of Colorado (GIC) is needed more today than ever before.  This is a 501c3 non-profit organization that needs funding to support the community with free counseling and suicide prevention services. It is estimated that 40% of trans people have attempted suicide.  If you want to help, please contact me or Karen Scarpella, the Executive Director of the GIC.








Make America love again!


(c) Credit photos CBS.