Updated: Mar 8, 2021
For most of us in the LGBTQIA+ community, it is generally known that receiving competent, safe, or even (dare to dream) affirming care is often a significant challenge. Many LGBQ+ and TGNC folks have been traumatized repeatedly in the pursuit of getting help when we are most vulnerable. This is true in many helping modalities including medical care, psychotherapy, and trying to work with other types of healers. There is such a history of stigmatization of LGBQ+ and TGNC people in the "helping professions" and while this may be improving, there is still much that needs to be improved upon.
These experiences can making seeking adequate help not only a logistical nightmare, but an emotional minefield. How many times have you found yourself deep in the trenches of Psychology Today, or even more nightmarishly, on the phone or online directory of your insurance company trying to suss out which therapist is not going to make you explain your genitals to them? Or someone who is not going to ask if your partner's gender identity makes you a _____ (insert sexuality label here)?
Navigating wellness services in general, and therapy in particular, is even more challenging for the many folks who hold multiple intersections of marginalization (race, class, ability, and more). It is often surprising to me how few providers are LGBTQ+ competent, much less affirming. This has been the case for myself, as well as countless loved ones, community members, and clients of mine.
Finding one's identity, living into one's fullest expression of who one is, IS A SIGN OF WELLNESS and we in the mental health field need to understand this.
Another common pain point for queer and trans folks is education burdening. It is not the client's responsibility to educate professionals on the LGBTQ+ community, how to use pronouns other than the ones *expected*, or which questions are appropriate or not. I recently spoke to someone who had to explain the word "cisgender" to a therapist. This is basic stuff! These experiences are "education burdening" in which marginalized folks are expected to educate professionals in order to receive competent, or even safe, services. This is a waste of our time, money, and healing processes.
If you would like to work with a therapist educated on the queer and trans community and who is in fact queer and non-binary themselves, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com to schedule a free 30 minute phone consultation.
A few other resources for finding a LGBQ+ and TGNC-competent therapist:
A note to practitioners: If you are going to work with those marginalized by gender and
sexuality, please be responsible and at least get trained in serving us (and not just once!). I do offer such trainings, and both this post and my trainings are borne out of the repeated pain both myself, my community, and my clients have experienced with practitioners who were not qualified to serve an LGBTQ+ population. Don't learn on the backs of marginalized, traumatized folks, especially if you can help it. (And you can!) Access my training materials here and reach out to me for further training and consultation by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel Harlich, LMSW
Therapist & workshop speaker. LGBTQ+, sex, body, & kink positive. Trauma-informed. Somatic healing. Intersectionality and social justice oriented. Holistic approach.