The sexuality conversation: Gay. Lesbian. Straight. Bisexual. Transgender. Cisgender. Questioning. Are you having the sexuality conversation? Are your friends? Your kids? Are you confused about what you’re hearing? Are you distressed about what you’re feeling or thinking about? Do you want to have the sexuality conversation?
WHAT IS GENDER IDENTITY? Gender identity is the gender with which you identify more closely—be it a woman, a man, somewhere in between or possibly a little of each. Or, perhaps you don’t identify with any gender. Your gender identity is connected to how you see yourself fitting or not fitting into societal gender roles. The word Transgender—often shortened to simply Trans—makes reference to a person who transgresses traditional gender boundaries by identifying—fully or partially—with the gender opposite of the one assigned at birth.
FEELING UNCOMFORTABLE: Perhaps you struggle to fit in. Perhaps you try or you pretend but something doesn’t feel right. Perhaps you have fantasies about dressing in the clothing of the opposite sex. Or perhaps you have fantasies about having sex with a person of the same sex. Many Trans people speak about having felt something wasn’t right for as long as they could remember.
HIDING AND PRETENDING: Often people live for a long time in hiding, pretending to fit in, and pretending not to feel uncomfortable in their own skin. Often they form traditional relationships, marry and have children. Underneath, they’re holding on to another version of themselves—perhaps one in which they’re differently gendered—but they’re afraid and feel they need to continue hiding their secret.
PLAIN TALK ABOUT TRANSGENDER: Today, we speak about gender in terms that are quite different from the way gender was understood in years past. Historically, gender was a binary consisting of either male or female. But gender does not exist simply in these binary terms. Gender is more accurately, a spectrum. And we all identify with and express varying degrees of both femininity and masculinity along this spectrum. This is true for transgender individuals as well, who identify as a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth.
SUPPORT FOR TRANSGENDER ISSUES: If you’re uncomfortable in your skin, if you partially or fully struggle with your assigned gender, if you’re depressed, feeling confused or hopeless or in need of support, Long Island Counseling treats all who seek help with dignity. Lisa Lempel-Sander is an experienced clinician who treats transgender individuals in the regular course of practice and warmly welcomes you.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THERAPY: Feeling confused about your gender identity does not mean you must look for gender reassignment surgery. Nor does it mean that you have to do anything at all. Indeed, professional treatment will not push you toward any particular outcome. Rather, a professional clinician will offer you the opportunity to explore—in the safety and privacy of the therapy office—your concerns, your hopes and your questions. Together with your therapist, you’ll come to understand more about what you’re feeling, about what you want, and about how to claim the right to live an authentic, satisfying life.