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What does it mean to be transgender? Though the simplest definition is not having a gender identity that matches the sex assigned at birth, the term “transgender” can cover a broad spectrum, including a binary shift within the sexes (FTM or MTF), or can extend beyond the traditional binary label (agender, for example.)

This is why many transgender people may prefer terms such as “non-binary,” “gender-fluid,” or “genderqueer” Whatever the preferred label, transgender people have distinct medical needs which are best addressed by health professionals with the necessary training and experience.

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What Constitutes Good Transgender Health Care

According to the latest version of the standards of care laid down by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), the following principles are deemed to apply worldwide, even in countries with limited resources.

  • Exhibiting respect for patients with nonconforming gender identities, i.e., not treating gender conflict as a disease to be cured.
  • Providing care (either directly or by referring patients to more knowledgeable colleagues) that affirms a patient’s gender identity and reduces the distress of gender dysphoria if it occurs.
  • Become knowledgeable about the health care needs of transgender and gender-nonconforming people, including the benefits and risks of different treatment options.
  • Match the treatment approach to the specific needs of patients, i.e., based on the patient’s gender goals.
  • Provide patients with access to the best possible care based on principles of informed consent and continuity of care throughout the transition process.
  • Be an advocate for patients, both in dealing with their families and the community as a whole.

In general, this means being able to provide patients with a full range of care no matter where there are in the transition process, whether in the form of counseling, hormone therapy, gender-affiriming surgery, or other treatment approaches such as phonosurgery.

Should I Find a Full-Service Gender Clinic?

At present, transgender health care can be provided in either a centralized or a decentralized setting. A centralized setting is an interdisciplinary facility where were all transition-related treatment can be done in a single one-stop setting providing optimum continuity of care.

Unfortunately, most centralized gender clinics are located in large cities and many patients need to travel long distances (or even to other countries) to receive treatment. As an alterative, many transgender patients may opt for treatment with different treatment settings.

Across the United States, for example, transgender health services tend to be decentralized with private practice doctors and community health centers offering primary care (such as with hormone therapy and counseling) and receiving gender-affirming surgery and similar treatments at more specialized hospitals.

Though gender clinics are more common in Canada and many other countries in Europe and Japan, current research comparing decentralized and centralized care suggests that they can both be effective in meeting most transgender care needs.

Do I Need To See A Psychiatrist Because I Am Transgender?

Even though the transgender community is gaining greater acceptance with time, legal and political issues, not to mention the rampant transphobia found in many places, means that people who are transgendered often experience mental health issues. In fact, recent research shows that between 17.5 to 45 percent meet the criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) along with related issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Even in places that provide legal protections for the transgendered, research demonstrates that transgender adults and youths have a heightened awareness of potential danger. Unfortunately, this kind of transphobia can also be found in many health care professionals, something that may cause transgendered people to avoid medical care altogether.

Dealing with a transgender-positive psychiatrist is especially important due to the different medications that might be prescribed for emotional problems. Given the other medical needs in the transgendered population, including hormonal therapy, it is essential that the prescribing psychiatrist be fully aware of the latest research into potential drug interactoins and other health complications. This means finding a psychiatrist who complies with WPATH standards and who is either part of a centralized clinic or else able to provide patients with the necessary informatoin to go the decentralized route.

How Do I Find A Transgender-Positive Psychiatrist Near Me?

Recognizing the strong heterosexist bias among many mental health professionals, organizations such as the American Psychiatric Associatoin have established formal guidelines for all practitioners to follow when dealing with transgender clients. Whether dealing with issues such as internalized transphobia, domestic abuse, transphobic abuse from friends and family, or simply the stresses of transitioning, mental health treatment, including medication can be invaluable.

But finding a truly accepting psychiatrist in your area can often be difficult and many transgendered people are now turning to online alternatives to traveling long distances for treatment. Not only is e-counseling often as effective as face-to-face counseling, but allowing patients to receive treatment in their own homes has been a game-changer when it comes to mental health.

What Is Pride Counseling?

This is why more transgendered adults and youth are turning to Pride Counseling for their mental health treatment needs.

Developed as an all-inclusive referral source for people seeking help, Pride Counseling has an impressive roster of trained psychiatrists from across the country, and even in your own area.

All you have to do is to click on the link at the top of this page and answer a few questions about your health care needs and history, your contact information, and the kind of pronouns you prefer, Pride Counseling will do the rest.

Once the treating psychiatrist contacts you directly, the two of you can work out details about how you would like your therapy to be conducted, whether by phone, video link, or text.

And that includes working with your family doctor to ensure proper continuity of care. But don’t worry about confidentiality since Pride Counseling uses state-of-the-art technology to keep your treatment sessions and records completely safe.

How Much Does The Treatment Cost?

The cost of treatment through Pride Counseling varies and can be negotiated during the initial session. It is also covered by most private health plans.

Billing is through Pride Counseling once every four weeks and you are free to cancel your membership at any time.

We also include referrals to gender clinics in your area as well as specialized hospitals where gender-affirming surgery can be carried out.

So call Pride Counseling today. Effective and empathetic mental health care is your right and we can help you get started.

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Dr. Vitelli

Romeo-Vitelli

I am a psychologist in private practice in Toronto and Hamilton.

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