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Why Gender-Affirmative Counselling Is Important

Seren Edwards

I had some hesitations about counselling because I wasn’t sure it was right for me. I was uneasy about exposing the intimate details of my life to a stranger. However, I realised I needed help, so I contacted GenderGP. They offered me the option of ad-hoc transgender counselling without signing up for the full GenderGP service. I really appreciated this because it meant that if I decided that counselling wasn’t for me, I could cancel without paying the entire sign up fee.

 

I looked over the list of counsellors and, because I was married, I chose Jackie Swarbrick based on her personal experiences and the belief that she would be the best person to help me.

My Internal Struggles 

Prior to counselling, I became increasingly confused and frightened by my resurgent feelings about my gender. I had known I was transgender since my early teens. Yet, I repressed and ignored my feelings because of what I saw to be a lack of available support and a desire to blend in and not stand out.

I got very good at this denial game and eventually married and had a family. Although my feelings about my gender never went away, I thought I could live with them without too much distress. However, when I turned 56, my gender feelings returned with a vengeance, and I realised I needed to seek treatment because I couldn’t continue to live in denial.

Why Counselling Is Important

I sought transgender counselling from GenderGP for help with my gender feelings, and I’m glad I did. My counsellor, Jackie, listened intently as I described my feelings. I felt relieved that, at long last, I had found someone to talk to who didn’t think I was weird or abnormal, deeply understood how I felt and the frustrations I was experiencing.

The ability to explore my feelings in a non-judgmental and supportive atmosphere gave me the confidence to confront them. It also gave me the courage to realise that I couldn’t go on like this—and that I HAD to transition. But I was never forced or pressured into this realisation; rather, being permitted to examine my feelings provided me with a clarity of mind I had never experienced before.

Coming Out to My Family

With counselling, I was able to consider the impact of my decision to transition on my wife and son. Jackie’s experience was invaluable, as it prepared me for the likely consequences and outcomes. Fortunately, despite their initial shock and struggle with knowing that I was transgender and needed to transition, my wife and son now support me and my decision.

I also established a transition timetable with Jackie that allowed my family to adjust to my transition without feeling rushed. Of course, this came at a cost to me because I had to postpone living full-time as my actual self. But I believed it was worth it for our family’s future happiness. I feel this would not have happened without Jackie’s advice, and I am indebted to her.

My Life After Transgender Counselling and Transitioning

I’m much more emotionally and mentally settled now. Previously, I had a short fuse, was easily angered, and must have been a nightmare to live with. My wife has said that I am a much nicer person to be around after I came out as trans and started counselling.

Transgender counselling helped me determine the causes of my emotional and mental turmoil. It consistently came back to the same thing: I needed to transition. My problems stemmed from my frustration at not being able to—or feeling unable to—address my gender issues. My friends and my GP have all commented on how much happier I am now.

Being able to talk about my feelings and begin my transition (even if in stealth mode at first) had a significant impact on my physiology, and I began to lose weight. Feeling much better about myself encouraged me to adopt much healthier eating habits. I also firmly believe in the power of the mind over the body, and my weight loss was due to more than just better eating. I connected it to being in a much happier place—a place I feel I achieved with the help of the counselling I received.

How GenderGP Fit Easily Into My Life

What I liked best about the healthcare and delivery was that it was simply available no matter where I was. I used to work in locations all over the UK and Northern Ireland. It was easy to access the counselling and care I needed. I really appreciated how non-judgmental the care was and how GenderGP respected my feelings about my gender. Also, getting access to the HRT that I desperately needed was a very quick yet thorough process.

I would recommend GenderGP to others because of its convenience, speed, and remote access capabilities. I would also like others to be aware they may have difficulty getting help from their NHS doctor. I was fortunate that my GP worked with GenderGP, which should be taken into consideration.

Overall, I was very impressed with GenderGP and the services they provided, but the counselling service was what really stood out for me. Without transgender counselling, I wouldn’t have been able to properly:

  • Explore my gender feelings
  • Understand what those feelings meant for me
  • Appreciate and face what I needed to do about my feelings

Instead, I would be stuck in my twilight existence. I certainly wouldn’t be here living my best life as Seren—the woman that deep down, I always was.

Formal counselling with a qualified professional can help you work through feelings and concerns you may have about any aspect of your physical transition or life transformation. From gender and sexuality to relationship and career, you can talk to us about anything! Check out our team of brilliant counsellors (therapist) here.

 

Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny on Unsplash