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4 min read

Gender Therapy in Austin: Common Questions Answered

Key Takeaways:

  • Gender is a complicated idea that often requires a lot of self-discovery.
  • Gender dysphoria can be a contributing factor in many mental health concerns like anxiety and depression
  • Gender therapy may be able to help address it, and is becoming more and more accessible for Austinites.

Gender therapy is a form of evidence-based therapy that seeks to affirm or advise on gender issues of any kind.

This can range from a non-binary person seeking affirming refuge from a hostile home environment to a cis-woman asking questions about her role in a relationship - and everything in between.

Historically, accessibility to this kind of therapy has been sorely lacking. Only in recent years has the field made strides in improving it.

There's still work to be done, but those with gender identity issues or questions related to gender are now at least able to find gender therapy.

Let's explore this form of therapy and dive into how it can help Austinites with gender dysphoria, questions about their gender, or with mental health concerns related to gender.

Austin Gender Therapy Resources on This Page:

How does gender therapy work?

Mental Health Concerns Related to Gender Dysphoria

Gender Therapy in Austin: Williamsburg Therapy Group

How does gender therapy work?

Gender therapy works however the patient needs it to. Because gender is such a complex concept, there are thousands of different reasons to go to gender therapy.

One may choose to go to gender therapy for reasons like:

  • Feeling uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth
  • Having questions about their gender
  • Being interested in exploring their gender
  • Needing support groups or individual therapy because of gender-related trauma
  • Feeling unsure about a past or future transition

And many, many more. Talk therapy tends to be a fairly inclusive field, so very few therapists set limitations on who can go to gender therapy. Usually, this only happens if a therapist specializes in a very specific issue, such as pre-transition anxiety.

At its core, gender therapy is a way to address gender identity in a safe, healthy way.

What is a Gender Identity?

Gender identity refers to the way that a person identifies their gender. Gender itself is hard to define, since it's an immensely complicated idea that we're only just beginning to understand.

Traditionally, society aligned gender pretty much in parallel with genetic sexes - that is, male and female. However, we now know that this gender binary is not sufficient to define and describe the multitude of human experiences that occur in regards to gender.

Some people don't feel as though they truly are the gender they were assigned at birth. Some don't feel they align with either side of the gender binary. And still others feel as though their gender shifts over time and is fluid.

All genders are valid, but sometimes society, friends, and family members don't agree. This, along with the overall complexity of gender, also contributes in some people to internal doubt or conflict about their gender.

That's where gender therapy comes in.

What is Gender Dysphoria?

Gender dysphoria is a sensation that occurs when someone's gender identity does not match their external sex characteristics, or when they have general unease about their assigned or current gender.

Gender dysphoria is debilitating, and can cause extreme distress, anxiety, depression, and (in extreme cases) suicidal ideation. That's why gender therapy accessibility is so important: it addresses and aids a group of people who have historically been underserved.

What is gender-affirming therapy?

Gender-affirming therapy is a broad practice that focuses on two central themes:

  • Affirming a person's gender internally
  • Affirming a person's gender externally

Insofar as affirming gender internally, the process depends on the patients current mental health and cognition surrounding their gender.

Some people need little internal affirmation - they are secure and confident in their gender, even if it doesn't match their external appearance. Many, however, struggle internally with their gender, particularly if it does not match their external appearance.

Internal gender-affirming therapy focuses on solidifying the patient's gender within their own mind.

External gender-affirming therapy, by contrast, focuses on changing the patient's outer appearance to match their true gender. Often called gender interventions, these can include anything from chest binders to hormone therapy to surgery.

Mental Health Concerns Related to Gender Dysphoria

While we still need to learn a lot about gender identity in general, there seems to be one thing experts agree on: it's often an important part of how people characterize and think about themselves and others.

Because of this, gender dysphoria is a serious mental health concern that must be addressed by a therapist.

If gender dysphoria goes untreated, it can worsen and lead to chronic and severe mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

Anxiety From Gender Dysphoria

Anxiety, characterized by anything from low-level consistent stress to episodes of severe panic, can result from gender dysphoria and other transgender health concerns.

Particularly common in transpeople who live in unsupportive or hostile environments, or who have more acute and severe internal conflict around gender, gender-related anxiety can typically be reduced by attending therapy.

Depression

Gender identity concerns can also contribute to the development of depression. Depression symptoms can range from daily fatigue and listlessness to profound sensations of impending doom.

Social Life Struggles

Having gender dysphoria can also put a strain on one's social life.

Because gender is only now being truly explored by science, many people either don't understand it or refuse to accept some of the new things we've discovered. This can cause immense pain to someone who is experiencing gender dysphoria, since their struggle is often diminished or considered "fake."

If a patient has not told any of their friends about internal gender identity struggles, they may feel out of place as their friends continue to refer to them as the wrong gender.

Your social circle is, ideally, one of your main support networks. If they don't understand, refuse to accept, or simply don't know about your gender identity issues, it can make the process of self-discovery all the more painful.

Suicidal Ideation

The most serious and acute result of gender identity issues is suicidal ideation, which can occur in extreme cases of gender dysphoria and may be exacerbated by gender trauma in general.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call 911 or go directly to the nearest hospital.

Gender Therapy in Austin: Williamsburg Therapy Group

Whether you're ready to start the journey of exploring your gender identity, have questions about transgender health, or simply need someone to talk to about gender, our team of dedicated psychologists is ready to help.

Known for their inclusivity and professional expertise, our doctoral-level therapists are happy to help Austin's transgender and LGBTQIA+ community feel safer and more comfortable.

Feeling better may be closer than you think.

Book a Therapy Session in Austin Today

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