If you are not sure if your assigned gender matches how you truly feel, you can reach out to a gender-affirming therapist. These types of therapists can answer your questions and help you on your road to discover your gender identity.
In this guide, we’ve reviewed two of the best transgender therapy services, to help you find the right counseling for your specific needs.
Best gender therapist services
Finding transgender therapy is not always easy. It is a known problem that there are not enough counselors that can help with these gender identity questions, and finding a good transgender therapist is even more difficult if you don’t live in a major city.
The following counseling platforms can help you to connect with a nearby or online LGBT affirming therapist, who can help you work through your issues.
1. Pride Counseling
Pride Counseling is a service that can connect you with a transgender therapist, who will help you with trans or LGBTQ-related mental health issues.
The Pride Counseling website provides you with therapy online, via phone calls, video sessions, or text messaging. You can access the site at any moment and from any device you want, making it quite a convenient way of getting help
To get started on the platform and find a gender therapist, Pride Counseling matches you with an appropriate counselor, after you fill out a short online questionnaire. If at any time you want to switch to a different therapist, you can change for no extra cost.
As a trans client, you can provide your gender when signing up, but you can also indicate that you don’t know yet if needed. You can also explain the specific areas you’d like to address, allowing Pride Counseling to match you with the perfect trans counselor.
Unique about this website is that their online gender counselors are specialists in helping the LGBTQ community. This means that your online therapist will have lived experience helping LGBT people, and will know how to help address specific questions and problems related to the process of transitioning.
You can also find a gender or transgender therapist on Talkspace, which is another online counseling app.
This platform makes it easy for you to find online counseling to improve your mental health, and potentially the mental health of your family, if you’d like.
You can ask for individual or family therapy at Talkspace, to help guide you on your trans experience. Group counseling can be especially useful in helping your loved ones learn more about the process, allowing them to support you as best they can.
Talkspace provides gender-affirming therapists for LGBT people, offering online counseling through multiple different pricing packages. You can combine live chats with text messages, phone calls, or live video sessions. It’s possible to just get help with a psychotherapist over text message if video sessions are a bit daunting at this stage.
Rather than selecting a therapist for you, this website offers you a choice of trans therapists after making an account and speaking with a matching agent, who is also a therapist. All their therapists are fully licensed, meaning they have the education required to help you in an evidence-based way. Still, you can always switch therapist if you don’t feel a match with the initial one you choose.
In contrast to Pride Counseling, Talkspace is covered by several health insurance companies and is also available under certain Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) in the United States. However, this provider doesn’t specialize in LGBT or gender issues like Pride Counseling does.
3. World Professional Association for Transgender Health
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) is an organization dedicated to supporting research, education and care for transgender health.
This organization provides a list of psychotherapists interested and specialized in working with transsexual and gender-nonconforming people.
Their providers are not only gender therapists. You can find doctors, speech therapists, and surgeons on this website as well. An advantage about this is that you get a more complete package, and you can find the exact right provider for your specific needs.
Getting matched to a therapist is something you will have to do yourself – it’s not a matter of simply filling out a form. You can find a transgender therapist near me by selecting your country and state, and describing the type of help you’re looking for.
With this service, you need to get in touch with the psychotherapist yourself and wait until they reply. In case you would like to start therapy within the next few days, this directory might not be a great solution for you. However, they do have a wide range of professionals available with significant experience in trans issues, so this website is a good place to look if you’re after in-person transgender therapy.
What does a transgender therapist do?
A transgender therapist usually helps a person deal with being gender-nonconforming, or not feeling comfortable with their native sex.
These types of counselors are not only focused on the transition towards your true gender identity. They can also help you in how to manage some of the following issues you may be facing, such as:
- Social stigma
- Physical violence or abuse
What is the difference between transgender and regular therapists?
A gender therapist works mostly in an affirmative way with transgender clients or gender-nonconforming people, such as those who identify with a third gender, or as nonbinary.
You can explore your gender identity and expression with a transgender counselor. However, many clients also go to counseling for their depression, anxiety, or body image problems. Technically, you could do this with a regular therapist as well, as long as they are able to provide validating and affirming support without any prejudices against trans people.
In reality however, gender-nonconforming people often report regular mental health care to be less than helpful. Some therapists still support gender conversion therapy, which is where people try and force you to identify with your native sex. This is shown to be harmful to your health, and is also highly unethical.
Further, people report that traditional mental health professionals sometimes lack training on transgender issues. This also seems to be a big problem for medical professionals.
Another issue when using a regular therapist instead of a gender therapist is that they might focus too much on LGBTQ or gender issues, or even portray your gender identity as a problem. Some also feel that regular therapists seem to label their gender identity as repressed homosexuality.
Essentially, there are very good reasons to choose a gender counselor over a regular therapist, if you can find a good one you can reach out to.
Can a regular therapist diagnose gender dysphoria?
If your counselor is licensed in your state and by its professional board, they should be able to diagnose your gender dysphoria.
The diagnosis will be based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This manual, provided by the American Psychiatric Association, defines that you need to feel distressed for more than 6 months in multiple areas in your day-to-day life in order to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Your social, work and mental functioning should also be negatively impacted in a significant way.
When your gender at birth is assigned female, you should feel a deep desire to prevent or change your biological or sexual characteristics towards confirming your gender identity (male). You should feel a need for similar treatment as your identified sex. When you identify as male and your assigned sex is female, you should have the same desire to confirm your masculinity.
Children with gender dysphoria also feel this distress as a result of the incongruence they experience. It is only logical that you as a trans patient want to be perceived as how you are. You might want to be addressed by a different name or pronouns, for example.
Is therapy required as a transgender person?
Therapy is not required for all transgender people. However, if you do have problems identifying with your gender or you see a discrepancy with how your body expresses it, therapy could be helpful.
If you want to access certain surgical or hormonal services to confirm your gender, licensed professionals may require you to have therapy for a gender dysphoria diagnosis.
While a personal statement and informed consent is sometimes enough, others still require this diagnosis before you begin to transition.
Some providers make it especially difficult by asking for unnecessary tests and assessments before they support your transition. This is another reason to search for medical or mental health care specialized in helping the gender or queer community.
Where can I find a transgender therapist?
As mentioned above, you can find clinical sessions for gender therapy online via the above websites. Each website provides online care for a range of different gender-related issues.
Pride Counseling is often a good choice, as it allows you to access online sessions with professionals specializing in transgender issues.
Talkspace would be our recommendation if you need sessions to work on your individual expression and want to involve your family. Like Pride Counseling, they also match you quickly, but they make it easier to have group sessions.
We would recommend looking at the website of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health if you need more than online sessions. They make it easy to find a counselor in your local community, although it may be difficult to find a good therapist if you don’t live in a major town or city.
Is transgender therapy covered by insurance providers?
The care you choose and need may or may not be covered by your insurance company. Although it is illegal for insurance companies to deny you the care that you need, some have blanket exclusions on transgender healthcare.
When it comes to solely individual transgender therapy, coverage will depend on your chosen platform and on your chosen clinical psychologist.
- Pride Counseling does not submit claims to health insurance at this point.
- Talkspace does partner with some US health plans to provide online therapy to employees through Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). Some insurance companies also cover their services.
- With an in-person therapist, you may be covered, depending on your health insurance provider.
If you are searching for a transgender therapist nearby, you might notice that finding a therapist is not as easy as it seems.
The above websites can connect you to gender therapists after you answer some basic questions. Your therapist can affirm your gender and help you with any associated depression, anxiety, or relationship problems you are experiencing.
It’s important to note that if you or someone close to you is experiencing urgent symptoms of mental illness, such as thoughts of self-harm, you should contact the emergency services at 911 or the suicide prevention hotline on 1-800-273-8255 in the US.
About the author
I’m a registered psychologist in Belgium, with a BSc and MSc in clinical psychology. I also have an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy training certificate, which is a form of cognitive therapy that utilizes a mindfulness and value-based approach.
My focus is on helping people who feel stuck or don’t know what they want anymore in life. I hope to provide tools and information that people can use in their day-to-day routine to reach a higher level of autonomy and improve their overall wellbeing.