Becoming a Gender Therapist

"How did you get into this?"  People ask this, often scrutinizing my body, trying to figure out if this 5"0 tall petite woman might be trans.  They subtly look me up and down, and wonder about my gender history or sexuality?  Perhaps there are other motivations for the question that people don't share, wondering, are you like me?  Do you know my community?  
 
My interest in gender started in college during a time when I began to look at my own identity at a deeper level.   I took gender and sexuality theory courses as an undergraduate and completed a second bachelor's degree in Critical Gender Studies (then called Women's Studies) at UC San Diego. Later, I received my masters in social work in a program whose training focused on psychotherapy through a clinical social work program. (Smith College School for Social Work, 1997). While there, as the LGBT Alliance Co-Chair I helped bring student attention to gender identity by co-creating a workshop to train fellow grad students when transgender was added to the group's name.  My first years after graduation I worked in community mental health primarily in Latino and African-American communities.  My job in Springfield, MA led me to meet the one client who changed the trajectory of my career.  
In 1999 she bravely walked into my office and spoke about her desire to live life as a woman, though designated male at birth. She had seen a number of therapists in the past.  While they were kind people who said  "We glad you are comfortable with who you are," not one of her previous therapists had the tools to actually help her take steps to transition.  She will always hold a special place in my heart.  She had patience with my process of gaining the consultation I needed to help her and her family with her gender transition.   
HOW I LEARNED
I began to receive regular consultation (over the course of 3 years) with Senior Gender Specialists. Over time I began to see more transgender clients until I found I was working full-time with transgender, intersex, non binary, crossdressers and those questioning gender.  I began to read everything I could get my hands on, attend gender conferences, became a member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health in 2002 and since then have attended the majority of the international symposia.   
NOW 
I have lectured and taught other therapists about gender issues since 2000.  Around 2002 I began consulting with therapists about their work with transgender and non binary clients, helping them increase their competency. I teach classes to therapists about clinical work with transgender, intersex, and non binary adults. I run 5 consultation groups (both by video conference and in my office) to facilitate therapists new and those experienced, how to feel supported doing gender work.  

While my practice also serves those with general life issues, the majority of my clients have trans identities and/or identify as lesbian, bisexual, queer or questioning.   Since 1999 I have conducted psychotherapy or assessment with over 700 transgender people, many of whom are not on a transition path and some who have already transitioned.   I have met with numerous family members, partners, children and health care providers of trans clients. I find a rewarding part of my work involves educating the community and other therapists about gender.  I founded a New England Gender Conference in 2007 to train therapists and other healthcare providers. I ran a group for female partners of trans men for three years and coordinated partners' programming in the Gender Odyssey Conference in 2011. I have run therapy groups related to gender identity since 2002.  
 
I am a part of the Mind the Gap consortium of providers in the Bay Area using a gender affirmative model serving non binary, gender creative and transgender youth and was a proud member of the Bay Area Gender Associates for seven years.
 
I am a WPATH Certified Provider and a WPATH GEI Mentor for gender therapists needing hours to become WPATH Certified Providers.  
 
I offer, individual consultation (30 min or 60 minute slots) and Consultation Groups, including by video.  Speak to me about scheduling a consultation (510) 915-4795 or Email me.
Therapists:Follow my practice via Twitter including topics of interest to therapists who care for LGBTIQQ people

Back Lecturing at Smith College in 2012
© 2019 Lisette Rose Lahana, LCSW
LCS #23663 State of California