As you begin discussing gender concerns with your psychologist, you will cover a ton of topics. However, with the rapport you build in your initial evaluations, you should feel slightly more comfortable.
Up until 2013, Gender Dysphoria meant a lot to the Psychological community. Considered a mental disorder, it allowed the medical community a large variance in how they treated patients. In ICD-11, the World Health Organization reclassified it again, making the language more political than medical. However, to keep the treatment criteria congruent with the WPATH, most psychologists continue to diagnose Gender Dysphoria the same way. They look at six criteria, and how it affects your quality of life.
- A marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and primary and/or secondary sex characteristics.
- A strong desire to be rid of one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics because of a marked incongruence with one’s experienced/expressed gender.
- A strong desire for the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender
- A strong desire to be of the other gender.
- A strong desire to be treated as the other gender.
- A strong conviction that one has the typical feelings and reactions of the other gender.
Sample Questions Asked When Discussing Gender Concerns
My Experience Discussing Gender Concerns
At this point, I feel that sharing my personal experience might help. In 2017, I met with my first psychologist to begin receiving help for my Gender Dysphoria. He spent three sessions conducting the initial evaluation before sluffing me off to another psychologist. The second psychologist spent one hour with me, before completely dismissing me to a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) specialist. At the TBI clinic, I underwent a specific therapy where the therapist asked me to draw several pictures as she evaluated what I made. Then, when I finally began to feel at ease, the TBI specialist sent me to a gender therapist specifically.
Tired of the seemingly endless game of pass-the-patient, I began studying and researching everything I could on the treatment of transgender mental health patients. Then, I wrote an eleven-page letter specifically focused on answering every single question I could find in the form of a story. I printed it out and brought it with me to my intake interview at the gender clinic. My nurse was surprised and a little caught off guard when I handed her the letter. At the conclusion of the intake, she scheduled me for a three-hour interview with the specialist.
On the day of my interview, I walked in and sat down, ready to start all over. The specialist showed me my letter and asked me point blank if everything in it was true. I confirmed that it was, and she dismissed me just like that. No counseling, no rapport, no other mental concerns. However, she did write me a referral to an entire care team, changing my life forever.
- Barbara, Angela M., et al. Asking the Right Questions, 2 Talking with Clients about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Mental Health, Counselling and Addiction Settings. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health = Centre de toxicomanie et de santé mentale, 2007. Open WorldCat, http://www.deslibris.ca/ID/427458.
- Bockting, Walter O., et al. “Counseling and Mental Health Care for Transgender Adults and Loved Ones.” International Journal of Transgenderism, vol. 9, no. 3–4, Sept. 2006, pp. 35–82. DOI.org (Crossref), doi:10.1300/J485v09n03_03.
- Standards of Care – WPATH World Professional Association for Transgender Health. https://www.wpath.org/publications/soc. Accessed 25 Mar. 2021.