Posts Tagged ‘transgender therapy’
If there’s one thing we’ve learned here at LifeCourse Counseling Center, gender is not just male or female, it does not come wrapped in a couple of neat and fixed packages. Gender is as diverse as people themselves!
It is estimated that approximately 1 % of people are transgender. Transgender is a general term used to describe any person who does not fit into traditional sex roles. When someone’s internal sense of gender or its expression does not match conventional definitions of male and female, that person is transgender. Individuals who fall under this definition are crossdressers, intersexed people, transsexuals, gender queer and gender variant individuals. These terms and definitions continue to grow as trans people continue to define for themselves who they are.
A crossdresser is someone of one biological gender who enjoys dressing in the “normally considered” attire of the person of the opposite biological gender. Usually a crossdresser engages in this activity part time and does not want to change their gender or live as a person of the opposite gender.
An intersexed persons biology is inconsistent with either genders. Such individuals may have chromosomal differences, ambiguous genitalia or sex organs from both sexes.
A transsexual person is someone born of one gender and whose internal sense of gender identifies with the opposite gender. Due to increased awareness and acceptance in certain circles, more people are choosing to “transition,” and thereby make changes to their physical body, outward appearance and/or to their use of pronouns. There is no “one way fits all” recipe for transsexuals. Each person decides for themselves which, if any changes will be assist their transition.
Gender queer and gender variant, are people who do not conform to a gender binary view. Gender queer people do not view the world as only male or female. They recognize the gradations of sex roles and see the potential of both genders in every person. They are likely to see within themselves variations of gender. One person may express themselves in appearance as the gender in which they were born, but use the pronoun of the opposite gender. Another may express themselves not either as male or female, but hold qualities of both. Gender queer people challenge conventional ideas of gender held generally by our modern world.
Transgender is a term that refers only to gender. It does not refer to sexual orientation. A transgender person is not necessarily, lesbian or gay. Sexual orientation bares no correlation to ones gender identity. This is often confused. People often think if a person is a transsexual, they are gay. This is not the case. Some of the confusion may be perhaps in part to the fact that for the transsexual, their sexual orientations “appears” to change when they transition. For example, if a biological male has always been attracted to women, upon transitioning she will probably still be attracted to women. Before transition this person is seen by our culture as heterosexual, but after transition she is then seen as lesbian. Since this person has always felt truly female, her sexual orientation itself has not changed, just the labeling of it.
Transgender people are not pathological or sick, only different from what we in modern culture agree as “normal.” The illnesses by which the transgender person suffers usually stem from the prejudice, lack of acceptance and hatred they endure.
Many transgender people at some point in their lives enter therapy as both a means to access medical treatment (hormones and surgeries) and to work with the complex issues facing a person who is changing their lives. Professional counselors can help transgender people clarify their personal gender orientation, work with that changing identity, help with the stresses associated with family, friends, spouses, and work environments. Counseling may be a critical component to the well being of someone who may have struggled with gender for many years or all their lives (see Transgender Services).
LifeCourse proudly embraces transgender and gender queer and gender variant people among the populations we serve. We are grateful to both transgender and gender queer people as they help us all broaden our identities and the limitless possibilities of who we can be.
There are so many things in life that can be hard. We humans naturally want to make what is stressful less so and therefore seek different paths in attempting to accomplish this goal. We will choose the best, most healthy avenue when it is available. There are many reasons this better avenue may not always be possible and other choices are made. Alcohol and other substances may be one of these choices.
The initial inclination to seek the help of substances is understandable. When a person is around others who use, it is a feasible route. In fact, in some circles, socializing centers on the use of substances. Using then, becomes a way of life. For others, turning to drugs and alcohol is a hope for relief from stress, pain or some untenable situation in that person’s life. When things are not going well, when a person is suffering and/or when those around that person use, substances make sense.
The initial high and relief soon becomes a need to rely on that substance in order to feel better. Shortly after that, it may become a regular part of life. Daily routine may very well begin to center around ones drug of choice and before long that drug has control over the person who first turned to that substance in order to gain more control. While first motivated by a healthy need to reduce suffering, dependence on alcohol and drugs, will eventually increase suffering.
While studies showing the incidence of alcoholism and drug use within the gay, lesbian, queer and transsexual populations inconclusive, it is commonly believed that it is higher than that of heterosexual people. This is easy to understand given the homophobia and transphobia in our culture. How a lesbian, gay, queer or transgender person feels about their gender or sexual orientation, how openly that person can live and how much support someone has will greatly influence the GLBT person’s likelihood of developing problems with substances.
Deciding to become sober is a hard choice. However staying drunk or otherwise intoxicated is harder. Little by little a person who is dependent on drugs or alcohol finds that the good things in their lives fall away. As a substance becomes more important in ones life, other people, other interests, and career become less important. People often loose things that were once central to them. At the very least dependence or addiction to drugs and alcohol will reduce one’s vitality and potential fulfillment. Drugs and alcohol can also ruin people’s lives.
Becoming sober can involve many things. Twelve step programs offer a wonderful structure for sobriety as well as enormous support. Various types of rehabilitation programs offer a safe and structured environment that can support the initial phases of sobriety. Garnering support from family and friends, when available, is important. Therapy helps people come to understand the role that their drug of choice has provided. It can help people find new ways of coping with stress. Counseling can help people make better choices, find other, more adaptable ways of feeling better and finding solutions to life’s problems and pain. Good psychotherapy will also help a person relate better with themselves and others. Therapists with experience in working with drug and alcohol dependence understand this journey. Becoming sober is not easy. But ask someone who has been through it and they will surely say that has given them new life.
One of the most stressful things a person experiences is the end of an important relationship. What was once exciting and rich is no longer. Often the end of a relationship is does not stop there. There are losses in lifestyle, financial means, home, friends, extended family and more. For many, partnership and marriage becomes part of ones identity. It is not uncommon for people to feel that they have lost this too. One can feel alone, lost and that a part of them is gone forever.
In moments of great stress other symptoms can evolve. They may be new or those in which someone may have previously struggled. These may include, but are not limited to depression, anxiety/panic, drug and alcohol problems, addictions, eating issues, sleep disturbances and more. While it is not fact, sometimes people may feel that they can not go on, that their life is over or that they will die.
Loss of relationship will also make people think about and feel previous losses of loved ones. If not the grief of the current relationship were not enough, a person suffering this loss will also emotionally revisit old losses as well.
Lesbian, gay, queer and transgender people who experience the end of a relationship may be more vulnerable at this time. Depending on ones support system and feeling of acceptance of who they are, will depend on whether there is an increased vulnerability.
Whether someone is GLBTQ or not, this is a time in life where support and love are essential. A person facing separation and divorce should not isolate themselves and be alone. Telling others and reaching out for support is critical. Engaging in things that make that person feel good, whether that’s getting into the outdoors, spending time with good friends, taking hot bathes or doing anything that feels good is important. This is a time to take one day at a time. It is a time to only focusing on the present day and what is needed for that day or even in that moment. It is important not to look into the future. From the current perspective the rest of life will look bleak. Since all things in life change, this too shall pass. Things do get better.
All loss requires time to heal. If the loss is too difficult to manage or if several months go by and there is little or no improvement, a person may consider speaking with a therapist. If the loss of a partner creates significant depression or anxiety after this time, or if substances or any other behavior that does not bring health and fulfillment becomes what is sought, it may be a good time to seek the assistance of a psychotherapist. There may be many reasons a loss can result in a person getting stuck. This does not mean it will be forever or that there is something seriously wrong with that person. Loss is a large storm and after it has struck rebuilding can take time, attention and assistance.
Everyone suffers loss. In this regard, no one is alone. People can recover and go on to lead rich and fulfilling lives again.
Nothing can be scarier than coming out. If you’re reading this, it’s been with you a long time. It may be a secret that has not be spoken. It may challenge the way you think about yourself. You may fear the way others will think of you. It may feel that it puts you at risk for rejection, isolation and even hostility. There is no doubt that coming out is an act of courage. It shows that we humans must be ourselves.
Silence equals death has been a slogan in the gay, lesbian, queer and transgender community. It speaks to what happens when someone feels that they can not be themselves. If silence equals death then coming out must bring freedom and life.
We at LifeCourse Counseling Center want to assist you in living your life fully. Most people who come out, regardless of the difficulties and challenges, experience much greater wholeness, integrity and happiness when they choose to do so.
Coming out may require that your reach out and make connections to garner the needed support to make this journey. Therapists at LifeCourse Counseling Center being LBGTQ themselves are in a unique position in helping you with this process. We can help you in any point in your process. You do not have to come out to talk with someone about how you feel. Talking can help build a foundation that may help you decide when and if coming out is right for you. Talk with us too if you do want to come out. We’ve been there!
If you need help knowing what to do, or if you need guidance in finding a productive direction with a problem or life issue, ask a professional therapist!
Of course we cannot solve your problems immediately on this website, nor replace therapy, but we can do our best to help you consider different perspectives and find a new direction.
We do offer some perspective free of charge.
Just ask us!
Call or email us for more information or to set up an appointment.
At LifeCourse Counseling Center, we have been privileged to work with transgender people since 1983. We know the courage it takes for people to be themselves regardless of what others think. LifeCourse Counseling Center and all it’s therapists validates and supports transgender, queer and gender varient individuals. We encourage all people to find their unique place in our world and we share the joy in seeing people content and at peace with whom they truly are.
Transgender individuals who come to speak to our therapists are looking for different things. Some need to explore their gender orientation (with all the possibilities that entails) while others know with certainty they want to transition. We help people gain insight into what transitioning means for them and what choices are available. We make referrals to medical professionals and see people through any medical process they may choose.
Our therapists also specialize in helping individuals consider the many issues that inherently come with being transgender. We focus on what a changing identity means to each person. We discuss the impact on families, friends and work relationships. We help people change inwardly as their bodies change outwardly. Together we focus on anything of significance for each individual.
No matter how difficult the changes may be at times, we find that transgender people who follow their hearts and natural yearnings discover that life becomes more joyful and transformative.
While the office is located in Northampton, LifeCourse’s individual therapy services are easily accessible to people living in Springfield, Greenfield, the Brattleboro Vt area, Amherst and surrounding areas of the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. Telephone and skype appointments are also available.
Call or email us for more information or to set up an appointment.