Davina Kotulski

Being Transgender Is Not a Rare Disorder

Filed By Davina Kotulski | April 29, 2012 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: gender identity, gender identity disorder, LGBT therapy, rare disorder, sex change

This week I spoke with a parent of a transgender child. Frankly, this is nothing new. I often speak to parents with transgender children, both professionally and personally. I often speak to transgender people and have several transgender bigstock-Psychology-session-sign-vector-23230688.jpgpeople in various stages of transition in my therapy and coaching practice and in my personal life. Being transgender is not a "rare disorder."

However, this week while speaking to a mother of a transgender child, I was shocked to hear her say that she had looked extensively for therapists who had experience working with transgender clients and was unsuccessful in her search. To her - and my - dismay, she said she interviewed dozens of therapists and only one or two had any experience counseling transgender clients and in these cases, they'd only worked with one client and told her that being transgender is a rare disorder. This experience has caused her to doubt her child's desire to transition and reifies the belief that transgender people are confused or mentally ill.

Now, multiple personality disorder that's a "rare disorder," yet, I have worked with this condition at least once before. People transitioning from male to female or female to male, is totally common.

Another disturbing thing that happened this week is that a client of mine who is transitioning was challenged by their doctor about hormone therapy, and questioned if they were really in the closet about being a gay man, rather than a transgender woman. My client was, obviously, very upset by this experience.

Okay, and if those two things weren't ridiculous enough, during a Coming Out Workshop I offered for free in a small town in California, I met another person who is beginning their transition process and is being told that they are not "transgender enough," and so the medical professionals are not taking this person seriously.

So, while it has been a great week for employment protections for transgender people, the lack of proper education and information about the realities of transgender people is glaring. It is critical that people get the support they need and that medical and mental health professionals get the diversity training they need to provide adequate care and support.

This is why I will continue to offer free coming out workshops in person and via tele-seminars, to support LGBTQ people in their coming out process and transitioning, and why I will continue to make this a focus of my work as a psychologist and life coach. This is also why I will continue to call on transgender men and women to come out and their parents and family members to speak out and educate the masses about the prevalence and diversity of transfolks.

Just like gay people, transgender people are everywhere and they do not have a "rare disorder." The only thing that is out of order is our ability to provide them with the unconditional love, support, and care they need to live their lives openly and joyfully.

(Therapist clipart via BigStock)

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