Question: Gender identity counseling

Anonymous asks…

I recently started talking to my moms about my gender confusion, and they want me to talk to a gender counselor/therapist. We have several trans friends who highly recommend the clinic they want me to go to, but I’m terrified at the idea. Has anyone ever been to counseling specifically for gender identity? Did you find it at all helpful? I’m scared.

Please post your response in the comments below.

» Ask Genderfork «


Posted by on April 25th, 2012 at 08:00 am

Category: faces 11 comments »

11 Responses to “Question: Gender identity counseling”

  1. Kay

    I’m going to be starting counselling for similar very soon, I don’t know how it’s going to go yet, but I’m hopeful. I hope you can find it useful if you decide to go as well.

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  2. fluffy

    I have been seeing my current therapist for close to three years now, as he specializes in gender identity counseling. It’s a very important step in the process, and it’s helped me to figure out what it is that I want and how I feel about myself, as well as to prioritize and plan out what I’m going to do about it. Plus, he knows the local practitioners who can deal with the medical and surgical aspects of what I need. Having that has been a lot less scary than trying to figure all this stuff out on my own.

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  3. Jesse

    I sometimes wonder abut therapists… they’re like teachers. If you get a good one, you can find yourself reoriented, at least for a time, to their perspective. So my question has always been, am I finding myself or am I finding me as my therapist sees the potential me?

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    Anonymous replied:

    This actually applies if you get a bad counselor/therapist. If you get a good one their views and biases will be insignificant to the therapeutic process and the focus will be on the patient. The goal for a mental health professional is largely to allow the patient to talk, to ask questions of the patient that may get them to a deeper self understanding.

    Regardless, I’m a huge advocate of the counseling process (having been in counseling for several years as a therapeutic compliment to my transition). It’s always worth a shot, and if you don’t like the professional you get you can always find another. I would, however, advise caution in clinics specifically set up to diagnose and treat Gender Identity Disorder (GID). There are a lot of places with very specific guidelines for diagnosing GID that not all trans or non-binary folks fit into (for instance, many gender therapists at The University of Michigan assert that you cannot be a transwoman if you have previously identified as a gay male). You could end up with a diagnosis of transvestic-fetishism or just entirely invalidated. For that reason (and yes, this does imply that I think there are a lot of bad therapists in the world), I’d suggest sticking to counseling professionals, not therapists, and not social workers. Someone whose main goal is not going to be diagnosis and treatment, but to improve the quality of your life.

    I know that sounds scary, but counseling has bee the best thing I’ve done for myself and I’d strongly encourage everyone (regardless of situation) to find a counselor who fits and understand you. I hope this actually helps! Good luck!

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  4. Anonymous

    I just started seeing a therapist about gender identity, and it’s been so immensely helpful. Definitely look around to find someone you like, but don’t be scared of it. And, if it doesn’t help you, you can always stop.

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  5. Anonymous

    I have been going to gender therapy for about two years. My first therapist was awful. She didn’t respect my identity and I had panic attacks when I knew I was going to see her. I switched and found an awesome therapist. She has helped me talk to my parents, come out at school, and with other things such as stress with school. For me, the key is finding the right therapist. If I had stayed with my first one, I would be extremely unhappy, depressed, and anxious. If you meet with a therapist and don’t like them, change therapists. Don’t feel bad about it.

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    Anonymous replied:

    a couple of questions: did you find the great therapist through a search for specifically trans-friendly professionals or just by chance?
    and are you non-binary? if so, were you able to express your non-binary identity to her and be met with understanding/acceptance?
    (i’m a non-binary person who will be seeing a new psychologist soon and i need some tips, i guess. maybe just a pep talk.)

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  6. theelectricturtle

    yeah, i think it depends on the therapist, but if you have trans friends that recommend someone, that’s very promising. remember, you can always stop seeing them if it isn’t working or doesn’t feel comfortable for you. if it’s reassuring at all, there are ways of getting hormones and/or surgery without therapy, if you ever decide to go down that road- don’t ever feel that you need to oblige a therapist or say what you think they want to hear.

    that said, i’ve had a really good experience with my therapist. he’s been good to talk to and bounce ideas off of, has been very supportive, and has gently challenged my thinking in a lot of ways, always in the direction of suggesting new ways of thinking and alternative ways of living. that’s a good yardstick you can use to determine whether you’ve found a good therapist, i think- the bad ones will try to fit you into a box and come with a lot of their own expectations; the good ones will not only not project their own assumptions onto you, they’ll challenge your own.

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  7. Mae

    Therapy has been by far the most positive part of my transition. For me, it’s given me a safe space to talk about my gender and articulate my struggles.

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  8. Anonymous

    I am in the process of searching for a good counselor as well. I share the OP’s fear; it’s a scary thing, but so was telling my girlfriend and all my friends that not only am I a crossdresser but I may well be trans too. Just be honest with yourself. You deserve to be happy.

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  9. jamie

    i’ve been seeing a therapist for about 5 months now and it’s definitely been helpful, although the hardest part (which is also really really good) has been that he’s really really good at listening, and i sort of would like him to push me more and tell me what to do, but of course he’s not going to do exactly that ;-)

    my therapist is a trans man who specializes in gender issues, so obviously that helps a lot. i got lucky and found him on the first try, but i think the thing to remember about therapists is that YOU should be in charge of the process, and if you’re not, you always have the option to dump them and should do so. if the process isn’t centered around and controlled by you, there’s a problem, but if it is, you pretty much get to control how much benefit you get out of it.

    good luck!

    <3

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