Transgender Therapy: How I Understand the Issues
My approach to transgender therapy and other gender work is grounded in the work I did in queer theory as a Women’s Studies student. If you’re not familiar with queer theory and it’s understanding of gender, perhaps this definition will help:
The belief that identity categories (such as gender, race, and sexuality) are constructed through internal and external forces, but are not fixed or stable. It includes critiques of such ideas as that to be a man one must have a penis and a truck or that to be a women one must have a uterus and a purse; and embraces the idea that there are infinite and creative ways to express masculinity and femininity.
What this means for people who are anywhere in the process of a gender transition is that I am most interested in supporting your definition of what it means for you to be the gender that feels right to you. I do not pathologize this process of self-discovery and expression.
I do see each person’s gender experience as connected to other aspects of themselves which is why, in transgender therapy, I’m interested in working with your whole self. Sometimes this means exploring other characteristics of your self that you’d like to change so that you can live a deeply fulfilling life. Often this means working on dating and relationships, and family of origin issues.
The goal of transgender therapy, as I see it, is to do more than follow the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care, it is to help you develop the skills to be satisfied with your life and your choices around gender expression and identity.
I have been involved in the transgender and queer communities off and on for over a decade and have professional experience linking clients with other medical providers.
Other Gender Identity Issues (not just transgender therapy)
Because we live in a society that’s full of gender stereotypes, transgender people aren’t the only ones who struggle with authentic gender expression. As part of my work with many of my clients, who originally come to me with other concerns, I explore with them how to identify and express their deepest selves with confidence. Sometimes men report feeling disconnected from their pelvis (or demonstrate this disconnection through their posture) and therefore from their sense of power and masculinity. Sometimes woman report or demonstrate a similar experience. Sometimes people confess shame around having needs that are not stereotypically associated with their gender. These are all fruitful sources of experiments to help people develop the skills they need to live authentically.