The field of gender therapy has been snowballing over recent years. This growth reflects an increased awareness among both professionals and laypeople about how our society treats members of LGBTQ+ communities.
Besides, significant advances have been made in understanding what it means to be human from a biological perspective. These developments mean that more people than ever before are questioning traditional ideas about sex and gender identity. As a result, some people feel they need help dealing with these questions.
Who Is a Gender Therapist?
Gender therapist is the term used to describe someone who works with people on gender identity issues. Gender therapists can work in many different settings, including schools and universities, health care facilities, community centers, private practice, or as part-time employees at government agencies like social services departments.
They may also be employed by organizations that support transgender people, such as shelters, advocacy groups, and medical clinics. Some gender therapists are also trained specifically to treat children and adolescents.
What Can I Expect from a Gender Therapist? What Does a Gender Therapist Do?
A good gender therapist will listen carefully to your concerns and answer any questions you might have. They should not make assumptions based on their age or background. A good gender therapist will ask open-ended questions rather than give answers right away.
The goal is to get to know you better so they can understand where you’re coming from. You don’t want to talk to a stranger! It’s crucial to find out if this person understands your situation well enough to give advice.
The goal is to understand why you think things are going wrong and then find ways to address those problems. A good therapist will take time to explain concepts related to gender development and sexuality. For example, if you want to know more about sexual orientation, they will tell you when appropriate. If you don’t already know something, this information will give you confidence that you’re making decisions that are right for you.
A good therapist will encourage you to explore your feelings without judgment. They won’t try to change them either. Instead, they will accept them as valid parts of yourself. You’ll learn new skills through counseling sessions.
A good therapist will respect your privacy. It’s essential that you feel comfortable talking openly about sensitive topics. Your counselor shouldn’t share anything you say during the session unless you’ve given permission first. Likewise, it would be best if you never discussed personal matters outside of the office. Finally, keep all appointments. Missing even one appointment could jeopardize your progress.
Even though you may trust your therapist implicitly, there are still certain situations where you need to let someone else know. These include: When you suspect abuse; When you experience suicidal thoughts; When you plan to harm yourself; Or when you believe others would benefit from knowing.
A good therapist encourages you to explore your feelings while respecting your boundaries. They don’t judge you or try to change how you feel. Instead, they help you identify emotions and behaviors that aren’t healthy for you. You gain insight into your behavior and become better equipped to handle future challenges by learning these lessons.
How Much Training Do You Need to Become a Gender Therapist?
There are no formal requirements for becoming a gender therapist. However, most states require individuals working with minors to obtain special licenses. The process varies depending upon where you live but usually involves taking child development and psychology courses.
Many programs include classes on sexual orientation and gender diversity. You might also take additional coursework specific to your area of interest.
How Common Is Gender Dysphoria?
The prevalence rate among gender nonconforming clients may be higher because many choose to remain hidden due to fear of discrimination. Gender transition is often considered an extreme form of behavior modification.
Children may experience gender dysphoria if they experience discomfort when dressing or acting differently from peers. If left untreated, these feelings can become overwhelming and cause distress.
What Causes Gender Dysphoria? What Triggers It?
Gender dysphoria occurs when someone experiences conflict between their biological sex and the gender they identify with. For example, a person might believe she’s a boy but has feminine features like long hair and dresses. Or, a girl feels more comfortable wearing boys’ clothes than girls’.
These conflicts lead to anxiety and depression. People with gender dysphoria feel uncomfortable with their bodies, and sometimes even suicidal thoughts occur. They want to change themselves physically so they will look more masculine or feminine.
Can a Regular Therapist Diagnose Gender Dysphoria?
Yes! The World Professional Association for Transgender Health determines that “gender identity disorder” is an appropriate diagnosis for people experiencing distress related to their sense of self as male or female. As such, many psychologists and mental health professionals have been trained to recognize this condition. If you’re concerned about receiving a proper evaluation, ask if your doctor can refer you to a qualified professional.
There are two types of therapies to address dysphoria available for transgender patients: Hormone therapy and surgery. Both are effective, though there are differences between them. There are also different levels of care depending on how severe the problem is.
Hormone therapy is one of the treatments for persons experiencing gender dysphoria. This treatment involves taking hormones to make changes in physical appearance. In some cases, hormone therapy alone isn’t enough to resolve the issue altogether.
However, it can be very helpful in reducing symptoms associated with gender dysphoria. Hormonal therapies such as estrogen replacement therapy or testosterone replacement therapy, which mimic normal hormonal levels, relieve most of the adverse effects of gender dysphoria.
Surgery is another option for treating gender dysphoria. While surgery is not always necessary, it can help reduce the severity of symptoms experienced by individuals who suffer from gender dysphoria. Some surgeries involve removing body tissue, e.g., breast.
Surgery involves altering physical characteristics to match one’s preferred gender identity. In some cases, doctors perform genital reconstruction surgery to make the genitals appear more male or female. This type of procedure requires extensive training and expertise.
There are several ways to address this disorder, including counseling, medication, and surgical procedures. The goal of any intervention is to alleviate the suffering caused by gender dysphoria. Treatment options vary depending on how severe the problem is.
Though research suggests interventions through medical diagnosis to improve outcomes, gender dysphoria does not require treatment.
A mental health professional diagnoses the condition and provides support during its course. The licensed clinical social worker has to issue medical guidelines for transition-related services.
How Long Does Gender Therapy Take?
The length of gender therapy (see ‘What Do They Ask You In Gender Therapy?’ post) depends upon several factors, including the severity of symptoms, age at onset, previous treatments received, family dynamics, mental health concerns, and other personal circumstances. Generally speaking, most clients see improvement within six months.
However, some individuals require more time than others. Some therapists recommend continuing sessions until all problems are resolved. Others suggest ending after a specified number of sessions. You might want to discuss this issue with your gender-affirming therapist during your first session.
How Is a Gender Specialist Different from a Gender Non-Conforming Friendly Therapist?
There are differences between Gender Specialist Therapists and Transgender nonconforming Friendly Therapists: GSTs will often encourage their clients to explore past traumas or negative experiences related to being transgender. They also focus less on body image issues and more on social identity development.
In contrast, TFTs typically work with trans men and women who identify themselves as non-transsexual. Their primary goal is not medical intervention; instead, they aim to provide supportive counseling so that these individuals can live authentically without feeling like outsiders.
GST focuses primarily on helping clients who want to transition medically, whereas TFTs help those who don’t wish to transition but seek support and understanding. GSs tend to use more traditional psychotherapeutic techniques than TFTs.
Is There Anything Else I Should Know Before Getting Started?
It is vital to understand that the gender reassignment process is permanent. Once you undergo such procedures, you will likely need them forever. Genital reassignment surgeries include both male-to-female and female-to-male operations.
These types of surgeries involve cutting through tissue and removing parts of the reproductive system. There are risks associated with each type of surgery.
You should bear in mind how much risk you are willing to take for yourself. Before deciding whether to proceed with genital reassignment surgery, consider:
- Do you want to alter your physical appearance permanently?
- What would happen if something went wrong?
- How long could you wait before considering another option?
- Will you ever regret making changes to your body?
- Are you prepared to deal with the emotional consequences of changing your body?
- Can you afford to pay for the surgery out of pocket?
- Would insurance cover this expense?
- Have you discussed this issue with family members?
- Does anyone else in your immediate circle support your desire to make changes to your body?
You might find answers to some of these questions by talking to other people who have undergone similar procedures. Also, please keep in mind that you will face challenges along the way no matter which path you choose. Some of those challenges may seem overwhelming right now. But you’ll learn to cope with them over time.
Therapists advocate that gender diversity is naturally occurring and not signs of mental health conditions or mental illness. They also believe that all individuals should live free from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender expression.
Gender therapists work closely with other health care providers such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses, physicians, counselors, teachers, parents, etc., who may provide additional support for clients. This article aims to explain what a gender therapist does so you can make informed decisions when choosing one. Gender nonconforming do not need to live in isolation.