Therapy to help with issues around gender identity and sexuality
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What is gender dysphoria?
Gender Dysphoria (or gender identity disorder) is the name given to the feeling of discomfort that a person may experience living as the gender that the person was assigned at birth. If a person feels that they do not fully identify with their ‘assigned’ gender, they may experience a wide range of psychological symptoms, such as stress, depression and isolation. Such people are most commonly known as ‘transgender’ or being on the ‘trans’ spectrum.
Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness, however people who experience gender dysphoria often suffer poor mental health as a result of hiding their identity. Talking about it and getting support is the first step to alleviating the symptoms. Young children may perceive themselves as being the 'opposite sex' and the changes that teenagers undergo during puberty may be particularly distressing. Stress and depression may sometimes manifest as also the desire to self-harm.
Transitioning is when someone changes their gender presentation and/or sex characteristics to match their internal sense of gender. There are different ways of transitioning: social (changing name, pronoun, clothes), legal (changing legal name, legal gender) and medical (taking hormones, surgery). People do not by law have to undergo medical treatment or physical changes in order to qualify for a 'gender recognition certificate'. A first stage in the 'gender affirming' process is counselling. Hormone treatment may or may not follow.
Getting professional help
It is important that children and teenagers be referred by their GP to a specialist child and adolescent Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) to get a diagnosis and create a treatment plan. In Scotland, the young persons' GIC is in Glasgow (Sandyford). Adult GICs are located in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness.
People in the United Kingdom can engage with an Adult GIC once they are 17 years old (but see Scotland below), although there are sometimes protracted waiting times (possibly years) in some areas. After an initial consultation, clients will work with their doctors to agree an action plan. In addition to psychological treatments, hormone / physical therapy options are available for some clients.
Read about how to find an NHS gender identity clinic
Gender Recognition Act in Scotland
A consultation on new legislation which would reform the Gender Recognition Act was launched by the Scottish Government in December 2019. The draft Bill would simplify the process for people who wish to change their gender legally by allowing "self-declaration" rather than a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The new legislation would reduce the two year time-frame for a trans person to live in their preferred gender to three months. It would also introduce a three month "reflection period" between applying for and receiving a Gender Recognition Certificate. Transgender people would no longer apply to the UK Gender Recognition Panel for a GRC, but instead applications would be dealt with by the Registrar General, and the minimum age at which someone could apply to legally change their gender would be reduced to 16.
How can hypnotherapy help with gender dysphoria?
Hypnotherapists use techniques that bring about deep relaxation or 'trance' - a natural and everyday state similar to daydreaming – during which the client is very responsive to suggestions beneficial to their health and wellbeing. Hypnotherapy can be used in association with other techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and relaxation to help with a wide range of issues.
For the client affected by gender dysphoria, hypnotherapy can be used to complement treatment plans agreed with a GIC (or whilst awaiting their first appointment). It is of help both to the person affected and also their friends and family in the following ways
Support for the parents of a transgender child – helping them to deal with the anxiety, stress and depression which are commonly associated with Gender Dysphoria.
Coping with discrimination and oppression by building resilience.
Working directly with sufferers with a range of issues including anxiety, stress, depression, loss of identity, sexuality, relationship issues, confidence, performance anxiety, insomnia and other health issues.
Empowering the client by teaching them techniques such as relaxation and self-hypnosis to enable them to help themselves between sessions and achieve long term wellbeing once therapy has ended.
Enabling them to fully accept themselves and the integration of all aspects of their gender identity.
Support during the ‘social gender role transition’ period (they are typically required to first live in their preferred gender identity full time for at least one year prior to having permanent gender-confirmation surgery.
Hypnotic suggestions for ‘feminisation’ (see below) or ‘masculinisation’ behaviours.
Support dealing with the challenges of ‘coming out’ as transgender to family, friends and colleagues – finding the courage, self-confidence and resilience.
The next steps
The first step is to speak to a professional. This may be their GP, self-referral to a GIC or other specialist support and advice service. A therapist experienced in gender dysphoria and trans people will have an understanding of what they are going through, and the best ways to help. h2 Hypnotherapy can offer valuable additional support, both while waiting for and during a treatment plan process agreed with a GIC specialist.
What is feminisation hypnosis?
Feminisation hypnosis helps transgender women and crossdressing men become more 'womanly'. Regardless if we were born male or female, we consist of both male and female parts. For those who may be born biologically male, or have a stronger male side in them, it can be easy to lose touch of the feminine.
Feminization hypnosis is a way to connect to your feminine self without necessarily undergoing drastic physical changes. Clients who use feminizing hypnosis for becoming more feminine might do so as part of the full gender reassignment process. Some clients might choose to practice feminisation hypnosis because they wish to adopt more feminine mannerisms, habits and thought processes, even if they do not wish to pursue a full gender affirmation later on. It can help transgender, gender fluid and crossdressing men behave in more feminine ways automatically and unconsciously.
Hormone treatments alone often can't erase the lifetime of masculine mannerisms, thought patterns, beliefs, and habits that have often already established. Feminising hypnosis seeks to replace these mannerisms, beliefs and thought patterns with more feminine ones. Hypnosis may also be able to assist with breast development for a more natural feminine figure. Feminising hypnosis works with the subconscious mind to implant hypnotic suggestions that can help the subject to think and behave in more feminine ways, without conscious effort. Even men who do not wish to undergo a full gender confirmation process may use this hypnosis technique to feel more comfortable with themselves and confident in their female persona.