By: Zander Keig, LCSW
The Gender Therapist
A Gender Therapist is a licensed professional behavioral health practitioner who specializes in working with individuals, couples and families navigating a Gender Transition. A Gender Transition consists of medical, social and/or legal steps taken by an individual. A medical transition consists of taking cross-sex hormones for the purpose of developing opposite sex secondary characteristics and undergoing surgical treatments to reconstruct the body. For example, a natal (genetic) female taking testosterone would develop facial hair, deeper voice and fat redistribution. A social transition involves selecting particular clothing, hairstyles and mannerisms associated with the opposite sex. For example, a natal male wearing female clothing. A legal transition occurs when an individual acquires a Court Ordered Gender Change or obtains a US Passport or a Birth Certificate with an opposite sex designation. The Gender Therapist can work with you manage your emotional and physical developments through those transitions.
Many individuals who desire to undergo a Gender Transition experience Gender Dysphoria. Gender Dysphoria is a felt incongruence, which exists when the expected Gender Identification associated with the designated Birth Sex does not align. For example, a person designated female at birth who grows up to be a man will experience Gender Dysphoria to varying degrees from mild to severe prior to embarking on their Gender Transition.
The Role of the Gender Therapist
The Gender Therapist’s role is to apply, at a minimum, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People (SOC v7). Per WPATH “[M]ental health professionals should have familiarity with gender nonconformity, act with appropriate cultural competence, and exhibit sensitivity in providing care (pg. 21, SOC v7).” In addition, mental health providers working with individuals, couples and families navigating a Gender Transition must exercise a “basic general clinical competence in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental health concerns (pg. 22, SOC v7).”
How Can a Gender Therapist Help You?
As your Gender Therapist, I will assess your Gender Dysphoria, provide you with social, legal and medical transition information, diagnosis any co-occurring conditions, advocate on your behalf, and recommend you for cross-sex hormone therapy and top surgery. I am also available to conduct assessments for those seeking genital reconstruction surgery once you meet criteria, per WPATH SOC (v7). In addition, I will assist your loved ones who are navigating their own transition as you shift from son to daughter or wife to husband, etc.
Zander Keig is a CA Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with over 20 years of experience working with transgender individuals navigating a Gender Transition. He is an appointed member of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) National Committee for LGBT Issues; a designated NASW, US Veterans Affairs and Department of Navy Transgender Subject-Matter Expert, published author/editor; and sought-after Diversity & Inclusion trainer/speaker/facilitator.