Is A Trans-identified Therapist Really important When Navigating Transgender Emergence?


I have read many studies and documents that promote the LGBT community seeking out an LGBT therapist.  I have seen a few reports stating that a Trans-Identified therapist is ideal for those exploring a Trans Identity.  Personally, I think there are benefits to both sides of the conversation and wanted to share some tips for those who Identify as members of the LGBT community (particularly those exploring a Transgender Identity) when seeking a Therapist:


1)  Find A Therapist That is Knowledgeable – One of the primary benefits of seeking a Trans-identified therapist is that if they themselves have transitioned, they will most likely have an understanding of the process based on personal experience.  They will likely have unique perspectives into some of the benefits and challenges that may come up throughout your counseling experience.  Trans-Identified therapists may also have a stronger sense of compassion for the torment of not feeling whole.  Personally, I feel this is ideal if you are able to locate a Trans-identified therapist that you are able to connect and feel comfortable with.


2)  Watch out for Hidden Agendas – Many therapists (LGBTQ identified or not) may have specific expectations or agendas that may drive your therapeutic process.  An example of this would be the Trans-Identified therapist that insists SRS should be a final goal( when we know that roughly 60% of Trans-identified people do not choose that route).  A good therapist will have no agenda other than to help you relieve the pain and/or confusion you bring into the room. The goals you work towards in your therapy should be YOUR goals; Not the therapist’s.


3)  The Relationship Is the Most Important Aspect – Should you meet with a therapist that has all of the degrees and certificates on their wall, but no real connection with you… then I suggest you continue to shop around.  Therapy is an extremely personal process and you owe it to yourself to meet with someone that can help you honor that in a way that provides some relief.  You should be able to freely explore every aspect of your experience without worry of shame or judgment.  This should be a rule of thumb when seeking out a therapist, regardless of LGBT status or presenting challenge.


Exploring a Transgender Identity is one of the most exciting, liberating, and scary times in our lives.  It is important to not only do it in a safe environment, but to do it with someone compassionate and knowledgeable of the Transgender experience.




Cameron Duvall, MS
MFT registered intern (IMF#65656)
30 N. San Pedro Rd, Suite 160
San Rafael, California 94903
(415) 968-9591