Transgender Care and Trauma
There are many assumptions that many people in the general population have about those who are in the transgender community. Unfortunately, many of these assumptions can come into the therapy process as well. One of these assumptions involves trauma and gender identity outside of a cisgender identity.
Many people assume that those who are non-cisgender and non-binary are suffering from some type of trauma. This bias isn’t only reserved to those who believe that gender authenticity for trans and gender non-conforming people is “wrong.” Many who are “friendly” to the trans community also believe that there must be some explanation for this identification.
People of all genders live with trauma.
Many people who are in groups that represent non-traditional and non-dominant suffer from various types of trauma. This can include socio/historical traumas. There is intense rejection and even abuse people can face, when they start to realize and express this part of who they are.
Also, like any other group of people, those who are trans, gender queer, and gender non-conforming have the potential to have dealt with various traumas in their lives. Most of us deal with some level of traumatic circumstances in our lives.
Trauma does not make up anyone’s gender identity.
When people are processing and making sense of their gender, there are often assumptions that trauma is behind that person’s identification. In other words, we only assume that trauma is responsible for the gender identification of those who don’t have a cisgender identity. Many think that there has to be a reason for this.
This comes out of a cognitive dissonance for people who understand gender in a binary and cisgender way. Our culture assumes that gender is determined at birth and it is either “male” or “female”. There is a struggle to move away from this binary thinking. Even many who are open-minded struggle to think outside of these constructs.
Trauma is an important consideration in all therapy.
Unfortunately, this has been used as a reason to stand as a gatekeeper from preventing people from transitioning, or making this process longer than needed. This isn’t to say that there would never be a case where a therapist might do some trauma work with a client, prior to hormone therapy, surgery, etc. Instead, for those therapists who aren’t as trans-affirming, there is an increased risk that they can put their beliefs about gender before the needs of the client.
Therapists do need to know of the trauma that all of our clients experience. This can impact physical and mental health well being. At the same time, it is up to the client to make the decision about whether or not they want to work on this part of their lives. This might include trauma from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. It can also include trauma related to childhood neglect.
Not everyone realizes that they could benefit from trauma therapy. Signs that you may benefit from this type of therapy include current behavioral, emotional, relationship, and sexual problems. Not all of these issues come from trauma, but many of them do. Working on these things can help you with heal, and enhance your self-esteem, which can radiate out into your relationships as well.
If you are someone who could benefit from help with trauma, you can look for a therapist who specializes in trauma therapies such as Somatic Experiencing and EMDR. These therapies work with your natural ways of resolving unfinished business.