Are you considering going through gender affirmation, either through surgical means or otherwise? If you are, then it’s important that you fully understand the process and what is involved prior to the actual affirmation. Going through the process is serious, and it requires you to think long and hard before you make a decision that may be permanent.
From childhood to puberty and into adulthood, gender nonconformity is recognized as a valid mental health concern, and there are countless avenues that may be explored with a mental health professional familiar with others who experience the same issues.
People who begin exploring their gender identity can encounter countless obstacles in their day-to-day life, from misunderstandings from the people closest to them to inadequate representation on a federal scale. Exploring gender identity is not linear, nor is it the same for everyone; different people explore and come to conclusions in one way, while others explore and reach conclusions in an entirely different way. A therapist who specializes in gender therapy may be able to help you determine what will work best for your lifestyle, needs, and hopes.
Gender Therapists Offer Support For Those In Transition
What Does A Gender Therapist Do?
A gender therapist is a specialized mental health professional who works with people who are transgender, currently in transition or interested in transition, experiencing gender dysphoria, or questioning their gender identity. A gender therapist will either have specialized training or a great level of experience working with gender nonconforming people, in order to provide a safe and understanding place in which to explore and begin the process of transition or affirmation.
Gender therapists are typically utilized specifically for those who are in need of additional help or guidance regarding their gender identity but have also been sought out for their familiarity with gender nonconforming people while working with mental health conditions and concerns that are not directly gender- related. By enlisting the help of a therapist who is familiar with general mental health conditions and needs and gender non-conformity, a patient can rest assured that they will be treated with civility and understanding throughout the treatment process.
Gender therapists perform many different functions. For those who are considering transition, a gender therapist might assist in the process by making sure the individual is sure of their decision, and walking them through the different physical and mental changes that accompany the transition process.
For people who are experiencing gender dysphoria – a conflict between the sex they were assigned at birth and the gender with which they identify – a gender therapist can offer general mental health services with the understanding and perspective required of being a gender nonconforming person, or can provide therapy specific to nonconforming experiences and concerns.
Gender affirmation and gender nonconformity issues are both extremely personal and require sensitivity and consideration. Therapists who are familiar with the challenges faced by people who do not conform to traditional gender identities or who are currently in transition are vital to make sure that all aspects of mental health are treated with the utmost sensitivity and the greatest degree of care. A gender therapist is, ultimately, tasked with helping their patients better understand their options and pursue the course of action that best suits their wants and needs.
Why Might Someone Pursue Gender Therapy?
Gender therapy encompasses a broad scope of treatment. While it may be tempting to boil gender therapy down to people in transition, questions of gender identity, gender dysphoria, and transition all fall under the purview of gender therapy. This is due, in part, to the complicated nature of gender identity, and the continued misunderstanding associated with people who do not conform to traditional gender identities or those who are pursuing gender affirmation.
A therapist who is “gender-informed,” or familiar with common issues and concerns will be better equipped to see gender nonconforming patients than those who are only passably familiar with the transition process and questions related to gender.
If full or partial gender affirmation is the reason for enlisting the help of a gender therapist, the focus of sessions is likely to be on the process of affirmation, what it entails, and how to maintain mental health in the midst of the treatments involved. If transgender issues in general are the reason for enlisting the help of a gender therapist, transition will not be the focus, and the focus will more likely be on any other mental health issues at play, or the specific challenges faced by the transgender community.
Gender therapists are often considered particularly vital for children and teenagers who are questioning their gender identity, actively transgender, or gender nonconforming. Childhood and the teenage years are difficult without the additional layers associated with gender issues, and many children and teenagers benefit tremendously from having a professional source of support and understanding as they navigate their gender identity and goals.
What Is The Purpose Of Gender Therapy?
Gender nonconformity comes in a wide variety of experiences and looks different for everyone. Consequently, navigating gender non-conformity can be painful and difficult without ample guidance and the objective voice of a professional familiar with gender nonconformity issues. Exploring your gender can be difficult and painful, and people who do not have plenty of support and encouragement may find themselves at greater risk for co-morbid mental health conditions. With adequate treatment and a comprehensive team of healthcare workers, health outcomes are typically positive.
Gender therapy is not designed to change or in any way alter the experience of the individual in question. Instead, gender therapy was created to celebrate individuals and help them more effectively move toward the physical and mental changes that will improve their mental health and make them feel more thoroughly at home in their bodies.
In a stark removal from gender therapies of years past, wherein patients were discouraged from further exploring their identities, modern gender therapy recognizes the experience of gender non-conforming individuals and seeks to bridge the gap between what an individual is feeling and what they are experiencing. For some, that means taking steps toward gender affirmation, and for others, that means undergoing therapy to develop comfort and safety within their body and experiences.
Finding The Right Therapist For You
Not all therapists are familiar with issues related to gender nonconformity. Some may mean well, but lack the expertise required to effectively handle issues related to gender and the potential for affirmation procedures. Locating a therapist with the proper know-how can feel like an impossible feat, especially if you live in a remote area or you do not have a safe space in which to delve further into gender non-conformity. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate the pitfalls and obstructions that can stand in the way of locating a reliable gender therapist.
Support groups can provide some peace of mind regarding gender nonconformity, and in the absence of therapy, can provide a safe space in which to question and explore. Support groups can be found in-person, or may be utilized online, to find like-minded people and develop a framework of people who are able to understand, support, and care for you. Although support groups are not designed to take the place of legitimate mental health support (nor should they be used in this way), they can be an excellent way to begin seeking help and guidance, and can offer a safe space to talk and learn while you continue to search for a mental health professional who will be able to handle all of your concerns with tact and consideration.
Plenty of people regard proximity as one of the most important factors to consider when looking for a therapist, but research has consistently shown that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy regarding health outcomes and efficacy of therapy.
MyTherapist offers online therapy that can be used to explore gender nonconformity and tackle issues that may be difficult to explore with a local therapy clinic or practice.
If you are currently experiencing gender dysphoria or are a gender-nonconforming individual in need of some guidance and intervention, MyTherapist may be available to help. With the help of highly qualified professionals and consistent therapeutic intervention, people experiencing issues related to gender nonconformity may be able to avoid common co-morbidities and experience a long and healthy life without the standard pitfalls associated with gender nonconformity. MyTherapist is also discreet – adults can meet virtually with their online counselor from any location with a secure internet connection.
Whether you are just starting to explore your own gender, have been experiencing gender-related challenges for some time, or are hoping to support someone going through a significant gender-related transition, help is available through MyTherapist. You are not alone on your journey, and there are caring, professional counselors available to direct you to resources, teach you important skills, and help you manage a transition, should you decide to pursue that course. Reach out to a licensed counselor today through MyTherapist for empathetic, high-quality support.