Gender Affirmation Therapy
Gender is personal. There are infinite expressions of identity, many stages along your gender journey, and many different ways to engage in transition. How you come to see and understand yourself along the way is unique to you; there is no one size fits all approach. You may be seeking support at any point along your journey and at Madison Park we offer therapeutic services to address the needs of gender diverse individuals (and families). Our therapists have specialized training in gender and we can support you at any stage in your process. Please read through the following information to get a better sense of what this work is about and what we offer.
Gender Affirmation, Gender Identity, and Associated Terms
Gender Affirmation refers to the process of being recognized and supported in one’s true gender identity and expression.
Gender Identity refers to your personal and internal sense of having a particular gender. Your gender identity may be the same or different than your birth-assigned sex.
Birth-Assigned Sex refers to the label you are given at birth based on medical factors such as hormones, chromosomes, and genitalia. When your gender identity does align with your birth-assigned sex, it is called being cisgender. When your gender identity does not align with your birth-assigned sex, there are many ways possible ways that you might identify. Your gender identity is very personal and unique to you. Some examples of terms used to describe identities across the gender spectrum include transgender or trans, non-binary, gender fluid, genderqueer, transfeminine, transmasculine, demiboy, demigirl, gender nonconforming, agender, masculine presenting, feminine presenting, bigender, butch, boi, masculine-of-center, feminine-of-center, femme, masc., female to male, male to female, multi-gender, pangender, polygender, third gender, two-spirit, gender neutral, or gender questioning.
Gender Expression refers to the way someone expresses their gender externally, through behavior, mannerisms, interests, physical characteristics, or appearance.
Gender Dysphoria is a feeling of discomfort or distress that can occur when your gender identity differs from your birth-assigned sex.
Gender Euphoria is a feeling of comfort or even joy when thinking about one’s true gender identity.
- Gender dysphoria and/or euphoria are commonly experienced by people with gender identities that differ from their birth-assigned sex, however not everyone with a gender variant identity will experience these feelings.
Personal Gender Pronouns are a frequent topic of conversation within gender identity issues and can be an important way for someone to educate others about their gender identity. Examples of personal gender pronouns include he/him, she/her, they/them, ze/zir, ve/vir, and per.
- Today, there is growing knowledge and awareness that people may have a different gender identity than they were assigned at birth, and that gender identity can be distinct from one’s external presentation. It is important not to assume someone’s gender identity based on their appearance.
Reasons Why You May Seek Gender Affirmation Therapy
The development of your gender identity is a highly individual process and it is completely normal for it to change and evolve over time. Academic literature has shown support for the fluid nature of gender (and sexuality), but we know colloquially that people are often unaware of their own true gender identity or do not feel safe expressing it. The reason for this is that in many parts of the world, gender identity and expression are interconnected with social and cultural norms. People often feel pressure to identify within the gender binary (i.e., either male or female) to avoid rejection or stigma. Your gender identity and expression were likely impacted by your family’s gender norms and the society and community you grew up in, including what types of media and literature you were exposed to. Oftentimes, if you grew up in a place or community where gender variant expressions were unwelcome, you may have felt discouraged from thinking about or exploring other expressions of identity than your birth-assigned sex. There are many different presentations and timelines for expressing a different gender identity than you were assigned at birth. Some people experience early-onset gender dysphoria and others have late-onset gender dysphoria. Each type of presentation is just as legitimate and the accompanying concerns should be taken seriously. Sometimes one’s coming out process has a defining catalyst moment that they can remember, but other times one’s gender identity development happened slowly over time. Additionally, gender identity is interrelated to other aspects of your identity. Gender is related to your sense of self and where you see yourself fitting in the world. The concept of gender is nuanced and complex and it is important for everyone to be able to authentically express who they are.
People who identify across the gender spectrum are often at higher risk of discrimination, victimization, bullying, social stigma, and rejection from family, friends, and/or community These experiences can impact psychological functioning and can increase the prevalence of anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidal ideation, adjustment difficulties, lower quality of life, and relationship concerns. Seeing a therapist can help.
Gender Affirmation Therapy
A therapist who is knowledgable about gender identity can support and guide you through your gender journey while you come to understand yourself more deeply along the way. Figuring out your gender identity can be complicated, and a therapist will help you navigate the intersections between your gender and other aspects of your identity, development, and functioning. A therapist can help you with gender identity exploration and expression and navigate the components of social and/or medical transition. Therapy can also help support you through coming out to family and friends, finding community, advocating for yourself at school or in the workplace, and more. A therapist can provide valuable resources and education. A therapist can also diagnose and treat Gender Dysphoria as well as other co-morbid psychological concerns that can arise such as depression, anxiety, suicidality/self-harm, adjustment difficulties, and relationship concerns. A therapist will collaborate with you to help you explore all of your options and decide together what is ultimately best for you. Above all, a therapist can provide a space where you feel safe, seen, and supported.
Madison Park’s Philosophy
At Madison Park, our psychological practice is informed by Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy which allows us to treat people holistically by addressing the body, mind, and spirit. Body refers to your physical self, Mind refers to your thoughts and emotions, and Spirt is the essence of who you are. A healthy body, a clear mind, and a fulfilled spirit will set the conditions for a meaningful life. With this in mind, we will help you to develop a core identity that lets you shine. Our mission is to help you step into your most empowered self so that you can thrive in a life without barriers.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
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