When you come to see me with troubles related to anxiety, depression or relationship problems, I can work with you on the issues you find relevant. Our focus is on your particular concerns and helping you make the kinds of improvements you’re looking to achieve, without taking detours into the reasons why you identify as transgender.
As a cis-gendered person, I don’t claim a thorough understanding of the experience of trans people. However I have worked with many trans people and can offer help with various concerns. Chances are you won’t need to educate me on what the trans aspects of your experience are all about. At the same time, if there is something I am unfamiliar with and need to learn or get updated on, since this kind of care is constantly changing, I will do my research. My intent is to partner with you so I can provide you with the most capable help.
I know there are options beyond getting surgery or forgoing it. I acknowledge that wearing clothing associated with another gender or wanting to change your gender appearance have been treated as diagnosable mental health conditions and this reflects a regrettable ignorance.
Also, because documentation is required in order for you to receive hormones or surgery, I can write the letters you need attesting to your readiness and the process you have gone through in considering these decisions. I find it unfortunate that trans people are required to go through a gatekeeper in order to access needed services, but this is the way our service delivery system currently functions so I will do my best to assist you through the initial stages of the process as well as events over time.
My goals in therapy with trans people are related to helping you make well-informed decisions and equipping you with resources that will expand on your knowledge. You don’t have to have everything figured out and know what you want in order to make good use of therapy services.
Self-determination is a key value in my work with trans people. My hope is to support you in your wish to feel at home in your body and self.
To give you a sense of how I think about these concerns, here are some thoughts and observations about my understanding of trans experience.
Transgender people have an appearance, identity or behavior related to gender that is different from what is associated with their assigned sex when they were born.
Some people choose clothing, hairstyles or mannerisms that are conventionally associated with another gender. Others need to seek hormone treatments or surgeries to feel comfortable and self-accepting in their own bodies.
Some people struggle with discomfort about gender from an early age; others experience their gender identity as changeable and shifting over time.
Gender is a distinct and different concept from orientation; sexual or romantic orientation is about who we love and feel attracted to.
Gender is both who we are on the inside and how others see us from the outside. Gender variant people might have any romantic or sexual orientation.
In North American life, our social structures imagine gender as male or female, with no recognition of variance; for example, people talk about the “opposite sex.” A different way of thinking about gender is along a spectrum, with many shades of identification. This is typical of other phenomena in the natural world and offers a more flexible way of viewing gender experience and identification.
As our culture allows more conversation and consideration of varied experience, more families are beginning to recognize children who are non-conforming in gender.
Some people who are flexible in gender choose to wear clothing traditionally associated with another gender. This can involve a few garments or items, or full attire, and people may do this some of the time or all of the time. Some people feel a need to change aspects of their physical appearance and seek a variety of medical or surgical interventions to achieve a physical appearance that feels reflective of who they are on the inside. Other times people choose some aspects of this process and then prefer or decide not to select others.
Over the course of history, various societies have been more or less flexible in their recognition and acceptance of gender variant people. The idea of needing to change aspects of gender appearance or role is not at all new, but many people who are living with flexible gender are re-discovering and inventing ways to raise and address questions about gender.