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 discovering your gender identity.
In this guide, we’ve reviewed three of the best transgender therapy services, to help you find the right counseling for your specific needs.
Want to skip right to the suggestions for transgender therapy services? Here are our 3 recommended therapy solutions:
Transgender therapy services
Finding transgender-friendly 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 therapist for transgender 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.
BetterHelp is one of the largest and most popular online therapy services. You can choose if you want to be matched with a therapist who specializes in LGBTQ+ topics, such as sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender issues, queer issues, and more.
BetterHelp 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, BetterHelp 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 BetterHelp to match you with the perfect trans-competent counselor.
Embark on a journey of mental wellness with Calmerry. With diverse subscription options, starting at just $50, Calmerry makes prioritizing your mental health simple and accessible. You can message your therapist any day or schedule a live therapy session from the comfort of your home from any device.
Another platform worth mentioning for therapists focused on transgender counseling is Calmerry – a subscription-based online therapy platform.
Calmerry employs only certified professionals specializing in different areas of mental health, including issues specific to the LGBTQIA community.
Once you’ve visited their website, you will be able to choose LGBTQIA counseling. If you start at this section of the website, all the therapists there have experience working with LGBTQIA people, and helping with issues such as figuring out your gender identity, gender transitioning, fear of coming out, relationship problems, and self-esteem issues.
After visiting the Calmerry website, the next step is creating an account either using your real name or a nickname. Then, you will have to answer a few short questions about the issues you’re dealing with. Calmerry’s agents will use this information to match you with the right counselor.
If you’re not satisfied with your therapist, you can always request another one.
With Calmerry, you can choose between three subscription plans, depending on what sort of therapy you’re looking for, and your financial situation.
The first and the cheapest plan includes unlimited text-based therapy, where you can share thoughts and feelings with your therapist, and they can provide you with feedback and support.
The second plan offers a weekly live session that lasts 30 minutes. This plan is great if you’re more comfortable discussing your issues over video, or find texting too impersonal.
You can still use the messaging system for feedback, homework, or if you’re going through something during the week and need reassurance.
The third plan offers four weekly video call therapy sessions, each lasting 30 minutes. This option is best suited for people who need in-depth, comprehensive support.
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 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 of 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-friendly therapist near you 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-friendly therapist do?
A therapist competent in transgender issues usually helps a person deal with being gender-nonconforming, or not feeling comfortable with their natal 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-friendly 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 therapist competent in transgender issues. However, many clients also go to counseling for their depression, anxiety, or body image problems.
Technically, you could do this with any 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 to force you to identify with your natal 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 trans-knowledgeable 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 by its professional counseling 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 would feel a deep desire to prevent or change your biological or sexual characteristics towards confirming your gender identity (male). You would feel a need for similar treatment as your identified sex. When you identify as male and your assigned sex is female, you would have the same desire to confirm your masculinity.
Is therapy required as a transgender person?
Therapy is not required for all transgender people. However, if you do feel anxiety as a result of being transgender, or are unsure how to proceed through the transition process, 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 trans-friendly 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.
BetterHelp is often a good choice, as it allows you to access online sessions with professionals specializing in transgender issues.
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 trans-competent 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.
- BetterHelp does not submit claims to health insurance at this point.
- Some online therapy platforms like Talkspace partner with 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 friendly therapist nearby, you might notice that finding a therapist is not as easy as it seems.
The above websites can connect you to gender identity 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.