Now, more than ever, there are open discussions in the world of behavioral health about person centered services that are culturally appropriate. For several decades the counseling professions have recognized that the relationship between the counselor and client is the number 1 determinant for positive change for clients. In other words, clients are most likely to change their behavior for the better if the counseling relationship is characterized as a good, strong bond.
The question of choosing the right therapist, while important to all clients, is even a more sensitive issue for individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) due to decades of being marginalized. To that end I have asked and LGBTQ Literature Poet and Editor, Maxx Bauman, to comment on choosing the right therapist.
Are Queer Therapists Necessarily Better than ~Queer~ Friendly~ Therapists?
If you already have a therapist:
- Does your therapist make assumptions about your gender, sexuality, or identity?
- Do you teach your therapist about Trans, Queer, Two-Spirit, Non-Binary, Asexual, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Gay resources?
If you do not already have a therapist:
- Are you Queer and looking for a therapist?
If you answered, “Yes” to any of these questions, it could be time to find a Queer therapist
Who are these Queer therapists, you ask? Any therapist who identifies as Queer could be a Queer therapist. Queer therapists tend to center the experiences of Queer, Trans, Two-Spirit, Intersex, Non-Binary, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Asexual people in their practice. Why? Because that is their experience, thus, it informs their perspective and how they engage with clients. Not always, but usually, Queer therapists do not make any assumptions about your gender, sexuality, or identity. They don’t gender your partner or your sister or you. That is in your domain.
When you find yourself google searching for “Queer therapist near me,” your search may return “LGBTQIA2-S therapists near you”. That is ok. Breathe. Asking for help is one of the strongest things you could ever do for yourself. Be brave. We need more Queer/ Gender Queer/ Transgender/ Intersex/ Two- Spirit/ Gay/ Lesbian/ Bisexual/ Non-Binary/ and Asexual therapists.
We need more resources and services that are specifically for LGBTQIA2-S Black people, People of Color, Immigrants, First Nations People, Youth, Disabled Folks, Poor Folks, Older Adults, Transient people, and Folks with other Marginalized Identities. We need more. And that is ok. We are not alone in believing that we can increase the access, quality, and efficiency of therapy. Healing is a birthright.
Terms and definitions in this article
Queer – Queer is an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual and/or not cisgender. Originally meaning “strange” or “peculiar”, queer came to be used pejoratively against those with same-sex desires or relationships in the late 19th century. Beginning in the late 1980s, queer scholars and activists began to reclaim the word to establish community and assert an identity distinct from the gay identity. People who reject traditional gender identities and seek a broader and deliberately ambiguous alternative to the label LGBT may describe themselves as queer.
Two-Spirit – describes certain people communities who fulfill a traditional third-gender (or other gender-variant) role in their cultures.
Non Binary – describes any gender identity which does not fit the male and female binary.
Intersex – Intersex people are born with any of several variations in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals that, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies” Such variations may involve genital ambiguity, and combinations of chromosomal genotype and sexual phenotype other than XY-male and XX-female
Asexual – the lack of sexual attraction to others, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity.
Authors: Maxx Bauman, LGBTQ Poet & Editor, Sam Bauman, PhD
image source: https://honeyartstherapy.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/smiles.jpg