To preface – A gender therapist is a therapist who works and understands trans issues while also helping trans people. They may or may not be trans themselves. However, it is common for them to be somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. In my transition, my therapist has been instrumental in validating my feelings, helping other family members understand, and giving insight and resources.
My experience – After I originally came out to my mom, I started therapy with a person who did not often work with trans people. They had 2 other trans clients, excluding me. She did not have the proper knowledge to help me understand what I was feeling. When I came out to my dad with her, she brought up surgeries when talking about basic information. I did not have enough knowledge about transitioning at the time. I needed help to flush out my feelings with a person who had experience with trans clients. Not only that, but I was 16 at the time. I could have received puberty blockers; however, she did not bring that up as an option. In my opinion, not going to a gender therapist first was one of the biggest mistakes of my transition. I feel like I wasted important time with a therapist who could not properly help me.
My parents before gender therapy had trouble understanding what transitioning meant for me. When going to a gender therapist, she helped my parents understand by breaking it down into smaller steps. For instance, starting with a name and pronoun changes. My parents both agreed since it was completely reversed. After weeks of doing it and the changes they noticed, they wanted to take another step. I was able to start growing out my hair and dressing more femininely with them. Eventually, my therapist wrote me a note and gave recommendations for a doctor who prescribes HRT. My mom supported me and went with me to my first appointment.
Not only that, but her being cis meant she could help other cis people understand. Gender dysphoria is a unique mental distress. Even if someone has experienced other mental distress before, such as anxiety or depression or distress about their body, like body dysmorphia, understanding gender dysphoria can still be challenging. Having a cis person who consistently works with trans people can bring a unique perspective that may help other cis people understand.
Furthermore, anxiety, depression, dissociation, and other mental distress can be experienced by having gender dysphoria. Having a therapist who treats all of your mental distress together is the best way to better your mental health.
Unfortunately, finding a doctor or a surgeon experienced in working with trans clients can be a challenge. Gender therapists can often give you resources and insight into doctors, surgeons, and other important resources in your transition. In my experience, I have had a doctor who “works” with transgender people, only for him not to understand how trans medicine works. Not only that but working with transgender people is different than understanding transgender medicine. Having a therapist who can give you resources and insight can be incredibly valuable.
My therapist has recommended me to surgeons, doctors, voice therapists, psychiatrists, mental hospitals, and support groups that are trans-friendly in my transition.
If you are in the DFW area and need a gender therapist, I would highly recommend Rebekka Ouer. She is queer herself and works with many other trans people. She focuses primarily on solution-based therapy but is willing to change her method to accompany your needs. Her sessions typically are 45 minutes to an hour and cost $150 without insurance. In comparison, group counseling costs $60. She not only works with transgender people but specifically anyone who is in the LGBTQ+ community. At the moment with COVID, she only does televisits. When she feels comfortable returning to her office, she will post on her website.
Rebekka’s website – http://dallasrainbowcounseling.com/
Moreover, gender minorities can often feel alienated and isolated from society. Finding a support group of other gender minorities who can understand your feelings can heavily help. In my experience, my therapist offered support groups for both trans people and their parents. I believe she truly wanted to help trans people.
In short, a gender therapist is one of the most important first steps someone can make in their transition. Having a professional who can help you and others around you understand your feelings is instrumental in support and acceptance. Not only that, but often gender therapists have insights into important resources, such as doctors, surgeons, voice coaches, and many more. In my experience, understanding of my transition was heavily helped by my therapist. If you are in the DFW area, I would highly recommend Rebekka Ouer. She has done amazing things for the trans community.