Genderpath Newsletter – September 2008
By Lisa Maurel, MFT : a trans-affirming therapist
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In this issue you will find information about
- My Practice and a NEW GROUP for FTM beginning in October
- Jobs 101 for the Trans Community offered by the Center OC
- The Transgendered Child: a new book by Stephanie Brill for parents and therapists
- Gender Reform in the Mental Health Community
About My Practice
As a trans-positive therapist I work with adolescents and adults who may be exploring gender identity and expression or transition. My goal is to facilitate the emergence of each person’s true self as they experience it and understand it; and to assist in what can be a powerful birth of the self.
In working with family members, my goal is to facilitate the normal stages which family members go through, as they co-experience the journey of their loved ones. This process can support the family through painful grief and loss stages, that make way for new ways of relating and communicating and understanding how to be a family together.
In my work with folks who are exploring their true gender identity and expression, I continue to be inspired and amazed at the strength and courage that they are able to find within themselves. It is an honor to walk with each person, each couple, each family-towards their goal of wholeness and health. I see myself not as a gatekeeper, but as a facilitator of change. It is my role to help remove barriers and relieve burdens that inhibit growth-whether they are internal, or external.
LGBT Victims of Sexual Assault: Training Competent Counselors
One of my passions in this regard is in training students and therapists in cultural competency in regards to LGBT clients. This weekend, I had the opportunity to speak to volunteers for the Community Service Program Sexual Assault Victim Program. Student counselor volunteers are required attend extensive training, and CSP includes a segment on LGBT victims of sexual assault.
I received positive feedback from students who told me that they do not have adequate education, training, or experience in their academic settings to be culturally competent to work with LGBT clients. It is encouraging to see these young students actively seeking training on these issues- and a sign of encouragement for the advancement of civil rights and parity in health care for the gender variant community.
In the two years I have given this training, I have often received notes from students in evaluations of my class in which they indicate that their positions and opinions have been significantly changed by the information they receive in the training. I find this to be the most rewarding aspect of the work-as I know that information is what enables people to move past the fear of what they do not know or understand. As volunteers and future therapists, these students then become more culturally competent to serve the diverse LGBT community.
Support Groups for FTM Forming Now
I am currently scheduling free interviews for this group. This will be an ongoing small group for FTM folks. We will be exploring stress reduction, managing fear and anxiety, coming out, relationship issues and identity development in an atmosphere of support and confidentiality.
Cost is $100 per month for two 90-minute meetings monthly.
JOBS 101: Trans Person’s Guide to Employment
The Center Orange County is proud to present the second in a series of Know Your Rights workshops for the Orange County transgender community.
Date: Saturday, September 27, 2008 2 p.m.-4 p.m.
Event Title: Jobs 101: A Trans Person’s Guide to Employment
- Preparing for the Job You Want: changing documents, how you should present yourself, pros and cons of transitioning before and after.
- Name and Gender Change: how it works, what it does, how it helps.
- You Got the Job!: coming out to your employer, who you should come out to.
- Know Your Employee Rights: what’s protected, information on available resources.
- Tools for Training Employers: worksheets you can take with you.
Workshop presenter Drian Juarez is a client advocate for the Transgender Economic Empowerment Project at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center . She has been doing intense grassroots activism for the trans community for the past three years. Drian has been involved with Transgender Service Provider Network, West Hollywood Transgender Task Force, League of Trans Unified Sisters (LOTUS), and Community Clinics Campaign. She is a board member of Female to Male Alliance. Drian is committed to making the world a better place for her community.
This workshop is FREE! Please RSVP by Friday, September 19, 2008 to find out the exciting Orange County location. Jobs 101 will be followed by a fun and casual dinner for participants at 4:15 p.m. Dinner is FREE! Please join us.
Book Review: The Transgendered Child by Stephanie Brill & Rachell Pepper
Long awaited and much need book for parents, clinicians, teachers, and anyone interested in understanding how to help the gender variant child in their lives. This book is simply written with practical advice on working with the difficult questions and decisions that emerge in assisting a gender variant child in a binary world.
In this book, Stephanie addresses the developmental expression of gender variance at various stages; the balance of supporting gender expression while protecting children from ridicule; parental stages of acceptance of gender variant children; and suggestions for advocating for your child/teen.
One of the emerging trends in trans-positive therapy is the support for hormonal treatment which postpones puberty and enables gender variant children to have more breathing room to develop intellectually without the crisis that is often initiated with the onset of adolescence. This is a controversial tactic but has proven to give relief to many children who would certainly experience severe psychological stress with the onset of puberty.
Stephanie is the director of the organization www.genderspectrum.org dedicated to education and advocacy on behalf of gender variant children and their families. Their annual conference and retreat for families is Labor Day Weekend.
GID REFORM ADVOCATES
The next issue of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) is due out in 2012. This manual is used by Psychologists and Therapists to code mental illness for the purposes of insurance reimbursement.
Gender Identity Disorder or GID in adults and in children, is currently under review. This diagnosis is required by surgeons and endocrinologists, in order to treat a patient who is seeking surgery or hormonal therapy. Thus, a letter from a therapist is required in order for the person to obtain “treatment” for a “disorder” for which no insurance reimbursement is given.
This system has effect of stigmatizing gender variance as a mental disorder, much in the same way homosexuality was labeled as a mental disorder in the DSM until 1983. At that time, the DSM committee recognized that homosexuality was not disordered, but that homosexual people experienced other co-occurring mental illness or stress, as a result of the oppression and prejudice that they encountered as part of a minority group.
Today, there is intense debate about the GID diagnosis and its burden on the person who seeks surgery or hormones in order to create a harmonious and congruent experience of the mind and body in regards to gender expression and identity.
As a trans positive therapist, I continue to work within the framework of a system that is at odds with my philosophy as a trans-positive and humanist therapist.
The tangents in this debate are too numerous to mention here, but if you are interested in staying informed about the developments, and what the mental health community is doing to advocate for change, you can visit www.gidreform.org.