Diversity in Gender and Sexuality
Freud, the founder of Psychoanalysis, developed theories on the way in which a sense of gender and sexuality are developed. He believed that 'normal' identity led to an individual gaining a sense of themselves as masculine or feminine, appropriate for their born sex, from their parents. In Freud's view, a 'normal' identity is completed when the child chose the opposite gender as a sexual preference. These kinds of theories have influenced the medical and psychiatric professions who tend to 'diagnose' people who do not fit within this model. Much has changed since then, and there is a much wider range of ideas about what gender and sexuality are all about. As a profession, counsellors and psychotherapists are now realising that there is an enormous potential for variety in the human being. And furthermore, that gender and sexuality may not be linked in such a rigid way as previously thought.
No longer is it thought that an individual who feels uncomfortable with their birth gender should necessarily feel a need to transition all the way to a stereotypical version of the opposite gender, but equally that this full transition is also a valid choice. There is now a greater emphasis on finding what is right for the individual and helping them achieve this goal. And neither is it believed that the individual should necessarily feel attraction to the opposite gender.
If you want help with issues around gender or sexuality, it is important to find a counsellor/therapist who will be affirmative of your choices, who will:
- support you to find a way to be that is right for you
- encourage you without prejudice about what is a 'right' way to be
- feel comfortable talking openly about gender and sexuality
When seeking a counsellor or therapist, do not be afraid to ask them about these issues in the first session. If you do not feel reassured that they will have a positive approach to your gender and/or sexuality, keep looking until you find someone who will put you at ease. If you're not sure that you'd feel comfortable asking this in a first session, why not try e-mailing people from this directory and asking them before having a face-to-face session?
For a list of affirmative practitioners, visit this site:
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