Therapy provides a safe and accepting space for you to explore your thoughts and feelings, and support you on your journey.
You may be questioning your sexual identity, experiencing internalised or externalised homophobia, struggling with the norms in your community of choice, or deciding whether to come out to your family or friends. Our goal is to provide a safe and affirming therapeutic environment in which to explore and address these important questions.
The subject of gender identity is more common these days and, for many, it has become challenging to keep up with a lot of recommendations and the terms being used. What is clear is that children struggling with gender identity need our support and understanding.
Common misunderstood terms:
Gender identity: One’s internal sense of who one is, based on an interaction of biological traits, developmental influences, and environmental conditions. This may be male, female, somewhere in between, a combination of both, or neither.
Gender expression: The various ways individuals display their gender through clothing, hair styles, mannerisms, or social roles.
Gender perception: The ways others interpret someone’s gender expression.
Gender diverse: Used to acknowledge and include the diversity of gender identities that exist. It replaces the former term “gender nonconforming,” which has a negative and exclusionary connotation.
Transgender: A subset of individuals whose gender identity does not match their assigned sex and generally remains consistent over time. This is not a diagnosis, but rather a personal way of describing one’s own gender experience.
Cisgender: Someone who identifies with a gender that is consistent with the sex assigned to them at birth.
Sexual orientation: This is not synonymous with “gender identity.” Sexual orientation refers to a person’s identity in relation to the gender to which they are sexually and romantically attracted. Being transgender does not imply a sexual orientation, and transgender people still identify as being straight, gay, bisexual, etc.
Rather than predict or prevent who a child may become, it is better to value them for who they are now, even at a young age. This fosters secure attachment and resilience.
QVTP counselling creates an environment of safety in which complicated emotions, questions, and concerns related to gender can be appreciated and explored.
Most children who assert a gender diverse identity know their gender as clearly and consistently as their developmentally matched peers and benefit from the same level of support, love, and social acceptance. Attempts at predicting or changing who a child may become have shown to be unsuccessful, and even harmful.
Support profoundly affect a young person’s ability to openly discuss or disclose concerns about their identity and feelings. When a child feels they must suppress their gender concerns, it negatively affects their mental health.
We focus on the importance of listening to, respecting, and supporting transgender and gender diverse children.
Understanding Families Gender Identity
Transgender teens with supportive families are less likely to have severe depression or report suicidal thoughts than those in families that report no support at all. Even being able to identify just one supportive person significantly decreases distress for these individuals.
It is understandable that parents have questions regarding their children and gender identity. There are some common themes that emerge. Parents may wonder if children can become transgender due to friends or online information. They may also question if there were signs that they missed in their child. The fact is being transgender is not contagious. Some youth may not have confronted gender diversity, or feel they must suppress gender diverse traits, until they find non-judgmental and affirming peer or online communities that provide exposure to a wider range of gender identities and expressions.
If parents discovered their child is gender diverse, or the child works up to disclosing such suppressed feelings, it may seem sudden and unexpected.
Some transgender youth expect immediate acceptance, but often family members proceed through a process of becoming more comfortable and understanding of the youth’s gender. T Family counselling can help by promoting open dialogue and perspective-taking between the youth and their parents.
Gender dysphoria: Describes the level of discomfort or suffering that can exist when there is conflict between the assigned sex at birth and gender identity. Some transgender children experience no distress about their bodies, while others may express significant discomfort. This distress can be more obvious as puberty begins and the body starts to change, and can show in signs of anxiety, depression, and self-harm.