An increasing number of clients who I work with are struggling with gender identity issues. Although acceptance is growing in society that sexuality is no longer binary, it is early days in the process of changing attitude and there is still a long way to go. Clients come to counselling with self-doubt and lack of confidence about who they are. They may have difficulty understanding why they are different and coming to terms with this difference, believing there must be something wrong with them. Some take on homophobic views, as a mask of shame and indication of their internal turmoil.
The difficulty is two-fold: how clients are perceived by others, friends, family and society and how they perceive themselves. The main focus of our work is to help clients change how they perceive themselves, stop being judgemental and hard on themselves and fully accept their gender identity. The work involves reducing and, with time, ending self-doubt, shame, their sense of isolation and habit of shutting down and not honestly communicating their thoughts and feelings. These negatives are replaced by increased self-confidence, honesty about who they are to themselves and others shown by a desire to communicate more openly. Most significantly, clients find a new inner peace, longed-for happiness and greater ability to fully participate in everything going on around them.