Gender shapes and defines who we are. It characterises much of how we behave, what we feel and think. Gender also powerfully influences our appearance and our relationships. Our roles in society, the jobs we do, and how other relate to us are largely based on our gender.
For the vast majority of us we take gender absolutely for granted: we do not even have to think about it – it’s just the way we are born. A small minority people, however, discover that their self-concepts of gender are not so straight forward. In some people their sense of gender identity does not correlate with their physical bodies and this is how they were born. Many transgender people experience great distress and anguish because of the inner conflict they experience between their private and public sense of self.
This constant psychological conflict can, and often does, lead to depression and anxiety, low-self esteem, problems with intimacy, and relationship difficulties. Over time, the person’s psychological world often becomes increasingly complex, confused and intense.
Eventually, nearly every person who experiences gender dysphoria will need professional therapeutic assistance to resolve these difficulties.
Many transgender people choose never to come out of the closet. It is hard, difficult and tense life to live.
Some choose to choose a compromise by keeping their ‘gendered self’ separate from their everyday lives. Often these people will have another assumed identity. Many family and friends will have no idea of the hidden lives these ones live. Sometimes this is necessary to protect families, jobs, and reputation from the harm that is often experience were they to be inadvertently ‘outed’.
A few will choose to fully transition, change their whole identities, and live the remainder of their lives in a way so that who they feel they truly are inwardly, can be expressed outwardly. Some transgender will wish to be begin hormone therapy, while a smaller minority eventually choose to have expensive gender confirmation surgery.
The aim of all these interventions is to alleviate the dysphoria and support the person to live their lives in such a way that they experience more contentment, fulfilment and purpose. Ultimately, though, there is no ‘cure’ for gender dysphoria: no matter what changes are made the transgender person will always experience some psychological discomfort caused by the dissonance between their inner mental and outwardly physical selves.
For this reason, at the Adelaide Gender Clinic we provide psychotherapy for transgender and gender-diverse people to address:
- Mental health problems: including clinical depression and anxiety
- Problems with self-esteem and self-identity
- Relationship counselling – including couples therapy
- Promoting coping and resilience
The Adelaide Gender Clinic also provides a referral service to other health practitioners such as general practitioners, psychologists, psychiatrists, and endocrinologists.
This counselling is provided solely by a professionally qualified transgender clinician. Together we can explore what gender means for you, and for those you love, and find ways for you to express who are in a way that is genuine, authentic, affirming and safe.