Gender and Identity

Clients who are interested in exploration or gender questioning will find a support system through TGC where our focus is on offering guidance and support. Our team understands that there are many different Trans Identities, experiences and expressions.

Goals of Therapy

Finding what expression of gender feels the most genuine for the patient, keeping in mind that there are many different identities including but not limited to:

  • non-binary
  • gender non-confirming
  • poly gender
  • gender-queer
  • trans men
  • trans women
  • gender fluid
  • pan gender,  and more.

Gender Identification

Understanding Gender Identity Issues can be challenging – navigating those changes and the impact it may have on your life, is another benefit of choosing to go through therapy. As a LGBT organization with community staff members and allies, we approach these questions with experience.

Check out the PBS Gender and Identity Throughout History Map Below :

Dr. Jessica Swenson

Let's hear from Dr. Jessica Sweson, one of our LGBTIA+ Issues Experts here at TGC

Let us start by asking ourselves what transgender is. To define transgender, this individual is a person whose sex assigned at birth does not fit their current gender identity. There are a variety of identities under the transgender label, such as non-binary and agender identities. Essentially, being transgender does not stop at being a female-to-male (ftm) or male-to-female (mtf) individual. There is also no right way to transition, go through a full transition, or go through partial transitions. Any transgender identity is a valid identity, in the simplest of terms, to be transgender you do not identify with the gender you were assigned.

Typically, a full transition for a ftm individual looks like testosterone hormone therapy through gel or injection, top surgery (for which there are a variety of procedures depending on the individual), and bottom surgery (either metoidioplasty or phalloplasty). For a mtf individual, hormone therapy includes estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone suppressors through patch, pill, gel or injection, top surgery, facial feminization, vocal training, and bottom surgery (vulvoplasty). Individuals may choose to do some procedures and not others, which does not invalidate their identity as a trans person. Some transgender people are comfortable with the biological body they were born in, but identify with a different gender.

Sex and gender are not inherently linked. It mostly contributes to gender roles and societal ideation that there is believed to by some to be a link between the two. Sex, gender, sexuality, and gender expression are all inherently separate from each other. An individual can remain masculine, feminine, or be androgynous. There is not one right way to present as a transgender person. The idea of having to ‘pass’ is inherently flawed and transphobic as an expectation. There is individual choice and levels of comfortability within each transition.

At Transformative Growth Counseling, we offer a sex positive, affirming, and accepting environment that seeks to help transgender individuals accept themselves and take the necessary steps for their unique, individual transition. This includes letters for hormone therapy and surgeries the individual might need. We also offer resources to help with any name changes needed.

Your Unique Identity and Transition

What does it truly mean to be transgender? Is there any right way to identify or to transition? I’m here to reassure you that, no, there is no right way to transition or identify. Let’s start by breaking down what it means to be transgender.
Being transgender does not identify with your sex or gender assigned at birth. What does this mean for the transgender community? This means that if a person identifies as transsexual, bi-gender, female to male (FTM), male to female (MTF), gender fluid, a-gender, non-binary, etc., they are a part of the transgender community. Over the years, transgender people have become more of an umbrella term for people who do not identify as cisgender. As a transgender individual myself, despite being female-to-male, I technically do not fall into the opposite binary. I am a feminine transman, and I am not taking hormones. I enjoy my personal femininity and that’s okay. There are several lines that are drawn between gender, sex, sexuality, and gender expression. To clarify each term, gender is how you feel and identify, sex is your biology, sexuality is who you’re attracted to, and gender expression is how you express yourself (feminine, masculine, androgynous, etc.) What’s unique about people is that we each have our own, personal journeys. The same rings true for members of the transgender community. One person’s transition is not going to be another person’s transition. When you’ve met one transgender person, you’ve truly met one transgender person. Some transgender people experience gender dysphoria, some experience gender euphoria, some experience both, and some experience neither. Some transgender people opt for a medical transition, some only do a partial medical transition, and some don’t medically transition at all. Everything listed here is on a case-by-case basis that heavily depends on the individual experience. There is no right or wrong way to transition. In the following paragraphs, I’m going to explore a few concepts and hopefully put some wary minds at ease.

Are Cisgender People Allowed to Explore Their Gender Identities?

Absolutely, yes. I think exploration of the self should be encouraged and extended out to cisgender individuals. Gender and sexuality are both fluid, and people should be allowed to indulge in their individuality. It is not a bad thing if a cisgender person explores other gender possibilities and settles back into their cisgender identity. Gender, much like everything else, is a societal construct. That is not an inherently bad thing, I’ve seen it as more of a neutral presence. But, like all constructs, it’s subject to change and questioning. Gender experience is not only individual, but cultural and historical. For example, there is a group of people in Indonesia called Bugis. They divide their genders into five separate ones: oronae (cisgender men), makkunrai (cisgender women), calabai (transgender women), calalai (transgender men), and bissu (all aspects of gender combined into one). There are also people known as Fa’afafine in Samoa, who are individuals who have a feminine gender expression that do not think of themselves as male or female.
Even from a historical and cultural context, people of all walks of life have explored their gender identities and what it means to be human. Cisgender people exploring themselves should be normalized, celebrated, and encouraged. They should receive the same treatment whether they do or don’t remain cisgender. It should be as normalized and celebrated as sexual exploration and gender expression. If you are a cisgender person who is currently exploring your gender identity, keep exploring. Allow yourself to be as you are, and find out who you are. There is no shame in coming back to the realization that you are in fact cisgender; in fact, I think that’s a good thing. You have found comfort in yourself and your identity, which is all anyone of any gender can ask for. I think it’s also important to normalize that some people may never know, or they may not utilize labels. Both of these things are okay and a part of individual, human expression.

Transmedicalism and Truscum

If you haven't heard of transmedicalism and truscum before, they are both inherently harmful concepts to the greater transgender community. At Transformative Growth Counseling, we reject both ideas. To further explain what they are, transmedicalists believe that individuals who identify as transgender, who do not experience gender dysphoria or do not desire to undergo a medical transition, such as sex reassignment surgery or hormone replacement therapy, are not genuinely transgender. As I stated previously, there is no wrong or right way to be transgender. Some transgender people experience gender euphoria, which is joy at discovering their gender identity. Transmedicalism is a way of gatekeeping that keeps transgender people such as myself out of the community and further isolates individuals with different experiences. We do not support the ideas of transmedicalism and we believe that each person is individual. You are allowed to transition in whichever way feels most comfortable for you, or you don't even have to transition at all.
Carrying on, I will talk about the term truscum. Truscum was coined by a Tumblr user that means true transsexual scum. Truscum fits in with transmedicalism, in the sense that it's the same idea that medical treatment and gender dysphoria are essential components of being "truly transsexual". Within this idea, you must hate yourself, transition fully, and be super masculine or feminine in order to be a transgender person. Again, as stated previously, we reject this idea entirely. It is inherently harmful to the transgender community, those who want to make a full medical transition and those who do not.

De-transitioning

I want to take a moment to discuss a topic that is often shied away from in the transgender community, de-transitioning. I think there is often a negative spin put on de-transitioning in media. Transition regret does exist and there are transgender people who return to the sex they were assigned at birth. The problem is that recent coverage around the topic of de-transitioning states that it is more common than it is. This is harmful and can point transgender people as temporarily confused or suffering from a misdiagnosed psychological disorder. However, if you are an individual who is experiencing transition regret, it is okay. You are allowed to de-transition. If you feel as if your dysphoria is not relieved and you feel stuck, there are ways to safely de-transition judgement free from our side.
Even from a historical and cultural context, people of all walks of life have explored their gender identities and what it means to be human. Cisgender people exploring themselves should be normalized, celebrated, and encouraged. They should receive the same treatment whether they do or don’t remain cisgender. It should be as normalized and celebrated as sexual exploration and gender expression. If you are a cisgender person who is currently exploring your gender identity, keep exploring. Allow yourself to be as you are, and find out who you are. There is no shame in coming back to the realization that you are in fact cisgender; in fact, I think that’s a good thing. You have found comfort in yourself and your identity, which is all anyone of any gender can ask for. I think it’s also important to normalize that some people may never know, or they may not utilize labels. Both of these things are okay and a part of individual, human expression.