Adults and Gender Identity
When anxiety, depression, anger, and frustration about one of the most important factors of personal identity interferes with
your relationships, productivity, and overall quality of life, it's time to get more information, and some new tools for managing emotions.
If you have been struggling with questions alone, not having answers can add a lot of anxiety to an already stressful situation. Or maybe it's your spouse who has been experimenting with a gender expression that takes you by surprise, and you don't know what it means for you.
The topic of transgender individuals periodically gets a lot of attention in the news and on social media. It's useful to know that others are going through what you might be thinking about.
When it comes down to your own questions, it's better to talk with a knowledgable, experienced professional. Internet support groups and websites can be helpful to a point. But it's very important to also have local support in person.
If your discussions or experimentations have lead to being disowned by family and friends, you could be feeling a tremendous sense of loss. Getting some counseling for navigating through this tricky time can help avoid depression and rupture in relationships.
Whether you are the person who is questioning, or in transition, or the spouse, relative, or friend who loves someone who is, I'm respectful of how you feel, and will help you move at a sensitive pace in your transition or acceptance process.
Kids, Teens, and Gender Identity
Maybe it's your young child who is resisting and rejecting gender sterotypes by refusing the clothing you just bought or the toys they have. You know that can be a passing phase, but you wonder if something else is going on.
Or perhaps, your teen has started to talk about wanting to live as the other gender. You see yourself as a supportive parent, but the more you read up on what it means to be transgender, the more confused and scared you become.
Understanding what your child is feeling and thinking about how they experience themselves in the world -- and learning how to relate to the gender they identify with -- may be the most crucial step you can take in helping them grow into a happy and successful adult.
Statistics show that more than 40-50% of transgender youth attempt suicide due to the pressures of not having the support and acceptance of parents, friends, and community. Others engage in self-harming behaviors, including cutting, substance abuse, and life-risking activities.
You can help spare your child that kind of trauma. Counseling will help them, and you, withstand the pressures, reduce the confusions, and determine the best steps forward.
How I'd Work with You, or Your Child
Gender development is a natural process that occurs over time in all humans. So we'll start by seeking to understand what that means, how it works in general, and how it might be working for you or your child specifically.
As one with advanced training in human sexual and gender development, I'll help you understand the ambiguity and fluidity of any important decisions dealing with gender identity.
When working with young children particularly, although it may not be clear what the child is really saying, my role is to listen deeply and help you interpret and understand what the child's internal experience of herself or himself really is. In this way, your child's confusion and emotional struggle can be reduced.
I don't encourage parents to try distracting children away from the issue, or to see it as a whim to be squashed. These approaches risk other types of psychological and relationship damage that makes the child's self-understanding much more difficult to achieve.
Whether for yourself or your child, no final decisions on irreversible changes need to be made quickly. No matter where you already are in process, I'm here to help.
Call Abbee Smith, LCSW
Overwhelmed by a major transition in your life, and unsure
where to turn for help in understanding what you're feeling?
Watching your child or teenager struggle
with issues of identity, and want some answers?
I can help.