Finding therapy that works for you
[content warning: mentions suicidal ideation (mild)]
I really like using gender and sexual minorities (GSM) an inclusive, cohesive and appropriate label, rather than LGBT. Often I talk of finding a “pink” therapist, and signposting to appropriate therapy was our number one concern in our poll on our facebook group recently.
Growing in isolation
Some people need therapy to help manage transition, for others it’s about finding a therapist who understands the way that your transiness intersects with other parts of your health and wellbeing.
You might want to start here, but remember that client recommendation is probably the best way to find a therapist. What’s paramount is *the relationship* you have with your therapist and often people say that the best course is to try one and not be afraid to move on if they don’t suit.
But how do you know they don’t suit? Here are a few pointers, pulled from my own experiences and wider reading:
* You find yourself having to explain why you found transphobia upsetting.
* Your therapist comments on what you are wearing and tries to undermine you or ask you to wear something else.
* Your therapist thinks that previous life experiences are the reason you are wanting to transition, not the fact that you had those experiences because you’re trans.
* They start talking about surgery, straight away, and how much it must hurt.
* You feel like, or actually struggle not to throw yourself in front of a bus afterwards.
How do I know my therapist is good for me?
* You find yourself having a deeper and clearer understanding of your issues.
* You feel like you’re exploring something together and trying different approaches.
* You feel validated and supported.
* Sometimes therapy can be difficult/upsetting but your therapist notices when things are too much and steers you away if you need it.
*They are registered under the BACP or the UKCP.
I’m a person who’s partner is trans. For much of our journey I created blog posts, which I’ll be sharing here from time to time. If for no other reason than to share what goes through my head, and maybe explain a little bit of what it is to be a partner of someone who transitions.
It is done! We have moved and are reasonably settled into our new home. The strange thing is, that even though it is rented, it feels like home. Perhaps it’s because it’s a house, rather than a flat and it has a garden and it’s just us. I think if I were to buy a house, it would be just like this one.
The move itself was interesting for lots of reasons. Firstly, just having men around who were helping us move brought into sharp focus the difference between having men around and not. The male smell with all that testosterone was far from attractive to me, and the fact that there was so much of our stuff that was completely unfathomable to them, like my beautiful new coat stand shaped like a woman, our mugs that are bone china and painted by Natasha Law, who as Wikipedia puts it, “is known for her sexy line drawings which lie on the boundary between art and fashion. Her work also features strong and evident erotic undertones…”. Ahem. Exactly.
I suppose it seals the deal, for me there is no turning back to ‘hetero-land’. It is more than just the mugs and the man-smell though, it’s the realisation as I saw everything that we have collected as we’ve built our life together, she is the one. The only one. And as much as we sometimes have our little spats, the reality is that fundamentally deep down inside we are connected. We are a single unit. The trans thing doesn’t matter, the history doesn’t matter, we are who we are. And we are better together.
I think the key message I would like to scream from the rooftops, is that no matter how much she changes from the hormones, the voice training and all the other changes that have happened and are due to happen, she is the same person. She is my person. And I love her to bits.
(Originally Dated 09/05/2012)
For the past couple of weeks our Facebook group have been discussing personal safety and keeping yourself out of potentially difficult situations, especially now that the nights are getting darker earlier.
Of course no one wants to be alarmist, but we are all (and especially women) at risk from at least the threat of violence, whether verbal or physical. Most commenter’s seem to agree that spotting and avoiding trouble in the first place is the best option.
Here is a brief summery of what we spoke about.
- Plan ahead. If you are going out and know what time you will be heading home arrange for a taxi to be waiting for you.
- If possible travel with friends! Know what time the bus is due. That will save you standing in an exposed location waiting and alone.
- Be aware of your surroundings and scan the street ahead to avoid potential confrontation. It is better to take a short detour than to realise too late that that group of people outside the pub are looking for a vulnerable person to hassle.
There are plenty of websites giving advice but some seem to think that we live in an action movie and give very impractical advice. Here are some links to some of the better ones that were posted. suzylamplugh.org and this one.
As expected we were given some excellent advice from our members:
- Let people know where you are going and what time they can expect you.
- Don’t panic if you are confronted, try to keep calm and walk away. Don’t become angry or aggressive yourself, this could make the situation worse!
- Have your mobile phone ready, if a potential attacker thinks that you have help on the way they may think twice.
- Carry a personal alarm and keep it handy. You don’t want to be rummaging through you handbag looking for it.
If you are caught out don’t be afraid to report it to the police. Most forces take LGBT hate crime very seriously. Remember, it may not help you but it could help the next person! zhooshbrighton.co.uk has some very good advice on this matter as does this police website on LGBT safety tips, and Stonewall’s “how to report hate crime” if you don’t want to report it to the police.
Remember that a confident person who looks like they know where they going are less likely to attract unwelcome attention than someone who looks timid and afraid. Be careful but don’t be put off enjoying yourself.
This beautiful and poignant film was commissioned by TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland) and is a conversational piece which explores gender identity and transgender experiences in Ireland.
Radio Reverb (nominated for Ultimate Planet Award 2104 “Radio Show of the Year”) presents…
An exclusive interview with Sarah Savage, trans activist turned author of her new book “Are you a boy or are you a girl?”
You can watch Sarah’s pledge here:
I wish her all the very best for the book 😀
We had loads of really good advice recently on our Facebook group. Shopping can be a difficult experience for anyone who doesn’t identify as the gender they were assigned, and we live in a society with really strict dress codes. Here is a selection of the best comments for someone struggling to buy clothes…
“Start off with androgynous jeans, shoes and plain tops and slowly build up a wardrobe/ why go local ?/ get to a big city shopping centre where no one knows you/ do not be ashamed or guilty/ because you know this is right and all ok… It may be an effort but you have to start somehow somewhere …”
“Primark if you can get to one….cheap so you can find a style that suits you and populate a decent wardrobe without breaking the bank, there are loads of people through there so it’s basically anonymous and the staff really don’t care. Same goes for any larger store, really. And eBay/any online clothes shop. As for sizes, just measure yourself, find out what you are in ‘women’ sizing, remember that all shops define the sizes differently (nightmare!) and get out there.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, if they’re staring then it’s their issue, not yours. Don’t let their inability to step outside the box they live in weigh on your life and what you want to do. You’ll find, if you act confidently then you’ll get less attention, but if you act like you’re doing something wrong (which you definitely aren’t) it’ll attract people’s attention.”
“It is tough and the world is not always nice and caring for any girls and transgender girls in particular, especially, in the beginning of their journey. You have to brace yourself and learn to focus on your aims in life, one day at a time, and ignore the outside world when it actively negatively affects you. Shopping can and should be enjoyable for any lady. Relax! Other shoppers aren’t there to identify any strange (from their point of view) characters, they are (surprise! surprise!) only shopping too! Shopping assistants are only interested in their sales. so even if you were an alien or a mythical creature – they’d take your cash! Go to whichever dressing room you feel comfortable in – even if they call you a mate or anything else (that’s from my personal experience). the more relaxed you are – the more natural you are – the less unwanted attention/stares you will get! Remember that! I was walking the other day on a friday night in a fairly short little black dress to a railway station from which a crowd of drunken football fans was coming out – would you panic in such a scenario? if you would, they’d see you as a sport! the right approach is to walk right through them proudly ‘wearing your invisible crown’ and paying no attention to them chin up, nose up, smile, straighten your figure and go ahead! Conquer the world! you can do it! … xxx”
“Every stare, every comment, is them trying to stop you.
What you are doing in being who you actually are, instead of what everyone wants you to be, causes most to rethink their ideas on gender and people.
They look, because you are breaking the code.
All you are doing is being a person.
And you deserve so much better.
What you are doing should be celebrated.
It is horrible that it isn’t.
But you have the right to go into any shop, buy anything you want and be whoever you want to be.
Please know that. You are not asking for anything special.
Please keep going. You deserve the life you want. The best thing you can do to fight is keep going.
Don’t let them win.
They want you to feel like this so you can go away.
For now, listen to headphones when you are in shops.
Don’t stop. Don’t look at them. Concentrate on being you.
Eventually (and I know you won’t believe this) you will be OK.”