Therapy can be hard for anyone to go through because you open yourself up in ways you don’t normally allow yourself to. Gender therapy is the same thing except you typically focus your discussions around your transition and being transgender versus a broad spectrum of topics. How you feel about it, what you want from it, how people feel about it, etc. For me I have been in and out of therapy my whole life due to my own mental health conditions, but I wasn’t quite ready to start talking about something that I had been hiding for so long. Talking about me being transgender and my transition was nerve racking to say the least. I knew I needed and wanted to get all this stuff off my chest, but I wasn’t sure I was mentally ready to do it. When you hide it for so long you wonder if there will ever be a day that you can let it go and be free of it.
When I first started looking for a gender therapist I was already in therapy, but my therapist at the time didn’t focus on transgender individuals nor had she ever dealt with with the topic. Her understanding of transgender people was simply what she got off the news and internet articles. I knew than I needed someone who knew more and had been working with transgender people for a while. But for me transitioning to a new therapist I knew might be a tad difficult. In order for therapy to be successful from my experience you have to have some form of a connection with your therapist in order to truly feel free to say whatever you want and not worry about being judged. After looking for a gender therapist for a while I finally came across one that had experience and was covered by my insurance. As we all know transition is expensive so anyway to save money we do.
The first time I met my therapist I was very anxious and stressed because I was uncertain if we would connect or whether I would just plain out like her or not. It took me a few sessions to warm up to her, but she ended up being a great therapist for me. As we progressed through therapy I realized that some of my past wounds weren’t healed so she was able to help me sort through them in order to move on in my transition. Sometimes in therapy you realize there are some hang ups or hurdles you need to overcome in order to have a successful and happy transition into your authentic self. Going to therapy also helped walk me through some of the parts of transitioning I was hung up on. My biggest fear was always about what other people would think about me. Would they judge me, like me, hate me, and so many more thoughts were running through my head. I wondered sometimes if I could get past those parts of my thought process. Through therapy I was able to fight those off and realize that transitioning wasn’t for anyone else, but me. This was my journey and no matter what anyone thinks about me I need to be happy and that my ultimate goal in life is to be true to myself.
Going through gender therapy also helped me in my process of coming out. Coming out as you know was rougher the second time around than the first. Most people have acclimated well to the transition besides my grandparents. I struggled telling my grandparents because I wasn’t sure how they would react and I needed them to still love me the same. My grandparents and I have a bond I can’t even begin to explain, but such a bond that if they had disowned me in the process of coming out I would have been devastated. Although they aren’t completely on board yet, our relationship has stayed just as strong and has helped me through my journey so far. Through my therapy I have been able to work on the situations I have encountered with my grandparents and she has helped me figure out ways to cope with their lack of understanding.
Therapy isn’t for everyone and I am well aware of that. But, as a human race we are communicators although most of us struggle to communicate effectively. Through therapy I have learned so many effective tools that I couldn’t have learned simply through living my life. Most transgender individuals go to therapy with a goal in mind typically to receive a letter from the therapist in order to start HRT or undergo some form of surgery. Is this why I went?? Of course it is, but it’s also helped me through the process and helped me understand myself more. It took me about 3 months before my therapist felt comfortable enough to give me a letter to start HRT. To be honest part of me was getting impatient with her because I so badly wanted my letter to start. When I finally received my letter I felt a since of relief. That I finally was going to be able to start my medical transition, something I had been waiting for over ten years. Although I have already received my letter I still go to therapy every other week to check in and discuss things going on in my life. I felt it was important to continue going despite the fact that I had received what I started going to therapy for. As therapy progresses I will improve as an individual and be a better person overall in every aspects of my life. I would suggest to anyone going through their journey to continue therapy and bounce off struggles or good things going on in your life to a non biased person like a therapist.
If you aren’t sure where to start you can start with World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). They are a great organization that works with healthcare professionals on how to take care of transgender individuals. On their website at wpath.org you can also search for healthcare practitioners in your area that are members of the organization. You can also google gender therapist in your area like I did and start researching people to see what their background is in working with the transgender community. There are more resources out there than you think you just have to be ready to start. So be brave and start your journey like I did no matter how scary it is trust me its worth the process. If you have any questions or need any help with finding a gender therapist please leave a comment or shoot me a message and I would be more than happy to help you out. Good luck in your journey!