For a person struggling with gender issues counselling can be a bewildering experience. Many trans individuals have been misunderstood, and experienced isolation, discrimination and abuse due to their internal gender struggle. They look for peace in a complex and often painful experience.
If this is your experience you require educated and sensitive counselling, which is supportive and valuable. It is an opportunity to share and explore the emotional pain that has characterised your life’s journey, allowing you to feel heard and seen in your true identity.
Effective counselling can assist you in considering the implications of gender transition, while neither encouraging nor discouraging you as you make life changing decisions. Together you and your therapist discuss the requirements, pitfalls, challenges, questions and decisions you’re likely to face in a transition process. Counselling can be effective in assisting you in finding other resources – medical, legal, speech, wardrobe, financial, etc., that will assist in whatever transition process you have chosen.
You can discuss how you feel this will affect your spouse, parents, children and other family members in dealing with the changes that are occurring or that will occur. The impact of this in the workplace and other professional issues are also valuable focus points. For many individuals undergoing a gender transition, the need for socialization is important. Therapy and support groups are effective resources in helping you to refine your social skills and become comfortable in your new gender expression.
The counselling space can also help in exploring realistic alternatives to gender transition. This requires creativity, flexibility, and the capacity to envision resolution when there seems to be no easy answer. This can also result in the need for ongoing supportive counselling for as along as you require.
Counselling and psychotherapy for the trans client should be a helpful and even joyful experience. There is much pain to endure in the questioning of one’s gender identity. But here within there is also much opportunity for growth, enduring relationships, and personal fulfilment.
Insight Matters supports the ongoing work carried out by Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) to create a more equal and inclusive Ireland for all transgender individuals.