Introduction to Transgender Issues

28 Apr

transgenderTransgender and gender-variant people have a variety of concerns for which they may seek the assistance of psychologists. In addition to the usual problems that may bring any individual to therapy, transgender and gender-variant people often seek professional help in understanding their gender identities and patterns of gender expression and in addressing the complex social and relational issues that are affected by these. Transgender persons not uncommonly seek medical services to make their bodies more congruent with their gender identities; involvement of mental health professionals is often necessary or desirable in arranging such services. Moreover, many transgender and gender-variant people experience stigmatization and discrimination as a result of living in a gendered culture into which they often do not easily fit. They may not only experience an inner sense of not belonging but also discrimination, harassment, sometimes lethal violence, and denial of basic human rights. These issues, too, often bring transgender people into contact with mental health professionals.

In recent years, transgender people have increasingly been willing to identify themselves openly (such as Bruce Jenner). Public awareness of transgender issues has increased dramatically, in part because of an increasing number of books, motion pictures, and television programs featuring transgender characters and addressing transgender issues. As a result, not only transgender people themselves but also their families and friends, employers, schools, and government agencies are increasingly turning to psychologists for help in addressing these issues on individual and community levels. At the same time, changes in service delivery systems related to transgender issues have resulted in transsexuals and other people with gender identity concerns more frequently turning to community mental health professionals for assessment and treatment. Consequently, it has become increasingly likely that psychologists will encounter people needing assistance with gender identity concerns. This trend underscores the need for psychologists to acquire greater knowledge and competence in addressing transgender issues.

The concerns of transgender and gender-variant persons are inextricably tied to issues of social justice, which have historically been important to APA. The stigmatization and discrimination experienced by transgender people affect virtually all aspects of their lives, including physical safety, psychological well-being, access to services, and basic human rights. This report highlights opportunities for APA to advance social justice as well as to support competent and ethical practice by promoting research, education, and professional development concerning transgender issues among psychologists, by creating a welcoming environment for transgender psychologists and students of psychology, and by supporting the human rights of all transgender citizens.

The most frequently cited estimate is that 700,000 people in the United States, or about 0.2 to 0.3 percent of the population, are transgender, though some experts say the true number is probably greater than that. However, there aren’t reliable statistics on this, because neither the U.S. Census Bureau nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ask people in national surveys whether they identify themselves as being a gender different from the one indicated by their physical features at birth.

Related Online Continuing Education Courses:

Gender Identity and Gender Variance is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that presents basic facts about homosexuality, transgendered individuals, and gender identity.

GLB Issues in Psychotherapy is a 6-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that examines psychotherapy with gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by theTexas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.


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