HOW TO FIND A GENDER THERAPIST
Most therapists are not specialized in, or even adequately educated about, how to provide counseling and support for gender identity concerns. Unfortunately, many therapists will naively accept clients who are dealing with gender conflicts, believing that traditional counseling techniques will be sufficient. Seeing an unskilled therapist can greatly delay your journey toward peace with gender.
A SKILLED GENDER THERAPIST WILL…
* Clarify the issues through an efficient diagnosis (which should take no more than a session or two) to distinguish whether or not you are experiencing gender dysphoria according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual DSM-V
* Provide accurate information about gender dysphoria, the continuum of gender expression from FTM to non-conforming to non-binary, to gender fluid, to MTF and everything in between.
* Clearly communicate the steps involved, and the related requirements of, a gender transition. This involves a clear understanding of how to clarify the difference between a gender-related fetish, a cross-dressing expression of gender that is not an identity, as well as what it looks like to have a strong and enduring sense of misalignment with one’s core gender.
* A skilled gender therapist can direct you toward important resources to assist in whatever transition process you have chosen. This includes common issues involved in a transition such as name-change process, coming out at home and work, peer support, hair removal option, physician referrals for HRT, surgery, and all other resources related to a gender transition.
* Assist individuals in exploring realistic alternatives to gender transition*. The best decision for dealing with a gender conflict is different for each client. A skilled gender therapist will offer creativity, flexibility, and the capacity to envision resolution when there seems to be none.
* Provide marital and family counseling services, or connect you to a friendly provider through professional associates to help your spouse, parents, children and other family members deal with the changes that are occurring or will occur.
* Be of help with workplace and professional issues, offering guidance to clients about how to decide if and how to transition to your current job.
* Offer gender-specific therapy and support groups (not mixed-groups with multiple issues – such as sexual orientation as that is a different focus altogether) that are effective resources in your individuals refine your social skills and become comfortable in their new gender expression.
* Have a deep sense of appreciation, not pity, for transgendered people. Using appropriate and respectful language to refer to persons with non-conforming gender experiences and feelings.
* A skilled therapist will not assume the gender pronouns and name you prefer to go by, they will ask, and then consistently and appropriately use these.
* Be familiar with and able to apply the Standards for Care (SOC’s) of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).
* Be able to answer the following questions to your satisfaction:
– Are you a member of World Professional Association for Transgender Health?
– Do you follow the Standards of Care?
– How many letters of referral have you written and for what services? (HRT, Surgeries, etc).
– How many sessions does it usually take for you to complete an assessment and referral for HRT (or whatever service you desire)?
– What is required to qualify for a letter of referral?