Trans Friendly Therapists and the Fight Against Conversion Therapy

In December of last year, a transgender youth named Leelah Alcorn shared her story of how her parents forced her out of her school and into conversion therapy in an effort to make her conform with her assigned sex. Tragically, this isolation contributed to her suicide.

More than 120,000 people have since signed a WhiteHouse.gov petition to enact Leelah’s Law banning similar anti-gay and anti-trans conversion programs.

Yesterday, President Obama’s administration responded by condemning the practice of conversion therapy.

The statement, written by a senior adviser to President Obama, aligns the administration with the many LGBTQ and human rights organizations who have also condemned the practice of trans conversion therapy as highly dangerous and discredited. “We share your concern about its potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer youth. As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

Trans conversion therapy simply does not work.

There are a number of groups, such as the Narth Institute, that advocate for the use of conversion therapy, citing examples of former trans or gay people who are now living “authentic lives” as cis or straight.

Through Point 5cc, we have heard first-hand stories over the years from members of our community forced to go through these programs and made to feel wrong, confused, and isolated. Your stories have reinforced that LGBTQ identities are not something that can be changed through conversion therapy, prayer, or any other means. It’s just who we are. And thankfully, such therapies for LGBTQ minors are currently banned in California, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., with 18 other states proposing legislation against them this year alone.

How to Find Transgender Friendly Therapy

Whether you’re out and proud or struggling with your gender identity, you are not alone. Finding a therapist who has a background in gender identity counseling can help you move forward on your journey, whatever that looks like.

Contact your local LGBTQ center, if possible

Many LGBTQ community centers offer free or low-cost counseling services to trans folks and their loved ones. If you are located close to a center, you may be able to receive therapy through there. Even if they don’t offer counseling, they may be aware of local places or individual therapists who can best provide help.

Call around to therapists in your area

Make a list of all the therapists in your area. You can then contact them one by one and ask if they have any experience working with transgender folks or folks questioning their gender. If they don’t, cross them off the list and keep going! If you have healthcare, your provider might be able to provide a list of therapists who participate in your insurance to help narrow down that list and ensure you have coverage.

Ask around

In person and online, you can ask other trans folks (as well as other medical professionals in your life) for their recommendations. Doctors often network with one another: your endocrinologist or general practitioner might be able to help. First-hand reviews or referrals from people you trust are just as important.

How to Find Transgender Religious Support

Many of these conversion programs are heavily influenced by religion. For us trans folks of faith, this can be even more confusing and even traumatizing. There are religious groups that are trans friendly and affirming, online and in person, that can help you feel spiritually supported.

Contact your local LGBTQ center, if possible

Your county or state’s LGBT center is probably connected to other groups and organizations, and may be able to provide you with information about transgender friendly congregations or interfaith groups.

Check online before you visit

Many LGBT welcoming denominations are very vocal about their support, so Google searching “transgender + yourfaith” may bring up quite a few results. TransResources.org (site still in development) has compiled a list of national organizations that work for and with trans people of faith.

Share your story or tips in the comments!

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