ABOUT TRANSGENDER THERAPY
Are you considering transitioning? Do you need support navigating the process of coming out to your family or at work? Are you simply exploring your identity and just want a safe non-judgmental place to truly understand you who are? I am here for you.
Transgender people are a very diverse and unique community and are all around us. They represent many racial, ethnic, religious backgrounds as well as varying ages; they can be our own family members, coworkers, and neighbors. They strive for equality. Transgendered individuals need support and advocacy for an equal chance to succeed and thrive. They need to be treated with the same dignity and respect as anyone else. Living without fear of discrimination and violence is essential to their wellbeing and is the goal of organizations and individuals who support them.
There are many terms associated with this community and its understanding is important to break stereotypes and stigma. Individuals who do not identify with the sex assigned to them at birth utilize the umbrella term “transgender” or “trans.” This means that their innate knowledge of who they are and how they externally manifest themselves in the world (gender identity or expression) is different from and does not match what others may see/expect or label them as based on anatomy (sex) as well as the traditional or stereotypical roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women (gender). On the other hand, those who do associate and identify with the sex assigned to them at birth are often called “cisgender” or “cis.” Some transgender people identify as neither male nor female, or as a combination of male and female, and utilize terms such as non-binary or genderqueer. Although most people never think about what their gender identity is because it matches their sex at birth; everyone, transgender or not, has a gender identity. Some may go through a transitioning process to begin living as the gender with which they identify, rather than the sex assigned to them at birth. This may or may not include hormone therapy, sex reassignment surgery, and other medical procedures.
While visibility is increasing within this community, inequality continues. Because of the social stigma surrounding transgender identity, this community faces a unique set of challenges:
- Poverty – lack of legal protection translates into unemployment for transgender people, homelessness, engaging in underground economies like drug sales or survival sex work (which can put people at increased risk for violence and being arrested/incarcerated/targeted by law enforcement
- Harassment and stigma – over a century of being characterized as mentally ill or socially deviant and sexually predatory; being vulnerable to lawmakers who attempt to leverage anti-transgender stigma to score cheap political points; family, friends or coworkers who reject transgender people upon learning about transgender identities; bullies, abuse, and serious violence against transgender people in schools and workplace (ie fired or denied a job)
- Anti-transgender violence – many have been killed violently by intimate partners or strangers, few options for protecting themselves from violence or seeking justice, unsafe/uncomfortable turning to police for help
- Barriers to healthcare – healthcare system not meeting the needs of the transgender community, medical professionals who lacked transgender healthcare competency, being refused/denied critical medical care outright because of bias
- “Accurate” Identity Documents – evicted from or denied access to emergency housing, shelters, or other public services due to required evidence of medical transition (which are expensive and not something that all transgender people want) and high fees for processing new identity documents (which may make them unaffordable for some)
- Visibility – difficulty in increasing positive images of transgender people in the media and society (though not enough and comes with real risks to safety, especially for those who are part of other marginalized communities)
To me, transitioning is a radical act of self-love. I didn’t transition because I hated myself, it was because I loved myself enough to believe I deserved to be happy while I’m alive.