When you’ve come out as Transgender, gender fluid, gender queer, or gender non-binary, your world can often feel turned upside down. Although you may have been wrestling with your gender identity for years, and have finally come to comfortable terms with who you are and want to be, that doesn’t always mean those around you have made the same transition yet.
In my practice, I specialize in Gender Therapy, a type of therapy that looks at and understands that gender is not always what is assigned at birth. Gender Therapy encompasses a multitude of facets, including helping someone find comfort with their gender identity, explore the different gender categories and labels, work on breaking away from labels and stigmas about gender, social and family constructs related to gender, and medical transitional needs. For many individuals who identify as transgender, the desire to begin transitioning medically is a major concern in therapy. In smaller areas such as Grand Junction Colorado, many medical physicians are often hesitant to start someone on hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or prepare for surgical options before an individual has been ok’ed as mentally ready by a mental health clinician. This is often where I come in as a Gender Specialist.
While in Gender Therapy, individuals are often assessed on the topics listed above, including their experiences with dysphoria (a condition of feeling emotionally and psychologically opposite of one’s biological sex), time frame of social transitioning (e.g. dressing in preferred clothing and masculinizing or feminizing appearance with hair styles and/or makeup), and age of recognition of gender identity. Gender Therapy not only assess for gender related topics, but general mental health issues as well, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, substance use, etc. Due to other compounding issues many transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals experience, it is often helpful for them to talk with a therapist who understands not only how to navigate their identity, but also how other mental health factors tie into their life. Feeling safe and comfortable is the number one priority for individuals looking to discuss very intimate details about gender and/or sexual orientation. Coming out for the first time among family, friends, or at work is also an unsteady bridge to cross. Therapy can be one of the greatest resources to help individuals feel triumphant when a situation has gone smoothly, or a way to regroup and grow from a negative experience.
Gender Therapy can also help dispel preconceived notions about what it means to be transgender or gender-nonconforming. For instance, many family members or friends may believe someone who identifies as gender fluid to be going through a ‘phase’ in life, or have misconceptions about sexual orientation based on gender. So, whether you are a gender nonconforming person, or an ally to someone who is, call above or below me to get more information on resources in the community to better help yourself or someone you care for.
Devin Pinkston is a local mental health counselor and Gender Therapist in Grand Junction Colorado. Call to schedule a free consultation today at 970-644-2392.