"Remember this, whoever you are, however you are, you are equally valid, equally justified, and equally beautiful."
— Juno Dawson, 'The Gender Games: The Problems With Men and Women, From Someone Who Has Been Both,' 2017.
What is Gender-Affirming Care?
Gender-affirming care, is defined as a range of social, psychological, behavioral, and medical interventions designed to support and affirm an individual’s gender identity when it conflicts with the gender they were assigned at birth. The interventions help transgender people align various aspects of their lives — emotional, interpersonal, and biological — with their gender identity. As noted by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), that identity can run anywhere along a continuum that includes man, woman, a combination of those, neither of those, and fluid.
What is Gender-Affirming Care?
Are you wanting to try therapy but worried that you’ll be judged? Have you had therapists in the past that didn’t share some of your identities, or didn’t understand your background in the way that you needed them to? As a gender-affirming therapist, I have specialized training and experience in working with individuals who identify as transgender, nonbinary, agender, genderqueer, gender fluid, bigender and more. It is my passion to provide you with a safe and affirming space to explore, encourage and inspire you to be YOU!
Gender-affirming therapy offers you a safe and affirming space to explore issues related to your gender with a therapist who has specialized training and experience. They can assist you in better understanding your gender journey and how to navigate emotional, social, medical, relational, academic, and occupational issues or barriers that may arise along your path.
Gender-Affirming Letters for Surgery
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to the gender affirmation process, and when it comes to your journey, you are the expert of your needs, experiences, and body. In order to provide gender-affirming care, your therapist should support you in whichever combination of treatments is right for you—and sometimes, that includes surgery.
Over the years, treatment for gender dysphoria has become more individualized—while many individuals need both hormone therapy and surgery to alleviate their gender dysphoria, others need only one of these treatment options and some need neither. Some patients may need hormones, a possible change in gender role, but not surgery; others may need a change in gender role along with surgery, but not hormones. If you do choose to pursue surgery, there are some steps to take ahead of time, including getting a letter of readiness.
Certain surgical treatments for gender dysphoria can be initiated with a letter of readiness from a mental health professional who provides documentation of your personal and treatment history, progress, and eligibility for the surgery.
Some surgeries require documentation of persistent gender dysphoria by a qualified mental health professional. For some surgeries, additional criteria include preparation and treatment consisting of feminizing/masculinizing hormone therapy and one year of continuous living in a gender role that is congruent with one’s gender identity.
Insurance companies are often the ones that require letters of readiness before they'll agree to cover a procedure, which unfortunately has restricted access to care far more than facilitated it. It can seem arbitrary that, for example, a transgender man has to undergo a psychosocial assessment to get a mastectomy, but not a cisgender woman—and that's because it is. When I collaborate with my clients on letters of readiness, I explain why it's needed while also recognizing how invalidating it can feel to need a letter that essentially says, “Yes, I am really trans.”
While they can be a barrier to care for many people, the letter or letters of readiness can help the surgical team understand your unique situation and ensure that you are as healthy as possible for surgery. It is also important to ensure that you have support from friends, family, and your healthcare providers before, during, and after your surgery.
If interested in learning more about letters of readiness, feel free to connect using the button below.