ISO therapist for transgender kid

My 20 year old kid recently came out to me as transgender. I honestly did not see it coming. This is a challenging time for our family, but we will get through it. I'm just trying to be as loving and supportive as possible. We both feel strongly that she should start seeing a therapist to help as she transitions from man to woman. She has been trying to find a therapist, but it seems that many are fully booked. I am looking for recommendations. She is away at college, but location is not a concern since therapy sessions can be done by phone or zoom. I already have my own therapist, and those sessions have been extremely helpful. Thank you. 

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I'm glad you are helping your daughter with this. Gender identity is not yet well understood and it isn’t known how it develops and changes, especially for people who have a strong mismatch with their body kick at this age (way past early childhood).   But people are still trying to figure out if it “settles” perhaps later on, after, say age 25, when other things in the brain mature.  Exploring it and learning more about oneself is wonderful.  She’ll have lots of company, apparently about 2% of college students are now identifying as transgender, and another 2% as non-binary (you can  look at how many people answer “yes” to these questions).

One thing she might not know (a lot of gender therapists, even at colleges, don’t, there is no training to become a gender therapist, so it's fantastic that you are looking carefully) is that the medications are all off-label with the FDA for treating gender dysphoria (“low quality” evidence). One misguided doctor told me that the famous study by deVries supported medical transitioning for my adolescent, but deVries' work was for kids who had this wish early and strongly in childhood, and other things, it doesn't apply to teens coming late to it. de Vries actually wrote about it .  There isn't much known, especially 5, 10 years or longer after starting on treatments. Yale tried to do a retrospective survey ( and found no benefit to hormones (and the surgery results are controversial, one problem is that the only really long term study, which is almost all older people, showed a very bad death rate starting about 10 years after surgery).  They don't know how many people start the drugs and then find they don't work, some, like Keira Bell, report great harm done before getting to age 25.  Since you take the drugs for the rest of your life, the doctors working on it really want to know more about the long term dangers, besides the ones they already know about. She can't check the dangers easily herself because it's all off label use.  So it’s research in action.

It'll be a discovery in many ways!  

Best of luck to you and your daughter!

I'm glad you are getting support for yourself. It is hard on a parent for sure! I would check with Diane Ehrensaft or the UCSF gender clinic to see if they have a list of practitioners. There is a group here in the Bay Area that has a listserve and they can put out a call for someone with openings but not sure how you access that as a parent. I talked to a therapist that didn't have openings and she put me in touch with others who did. Look for someone with training and experience. Also, is your child neurodiverse? After my son came out as transgender we also realized that he is autistic. There is a much higher level of neurodiversity and transgender overlap than one would expect. Understanding that profile really helped me understand him better and helped him understand himself better too. Good luck. It's a lot to process but love wins out. 

Our transgender kid has been really happy seeing Amy Walthall ((510) 269-2917) in Albany.  Not sure if she currently has availability, but she has been great for our kid and for us as parents. I also talked to Jessie Rose Cohen ((510) 454-8851) in Berkeley and was very impressed.  

Also, there are great online support groups available through Gender Spectrum

Best of luck to your daughter as she walks this path, and to you parents as you walk it with her.  It is challenging for the whole family.  I have learned that there is grieving I need to do, and that is fine.

I found Ehrensaft surprisingly unaware of the research when I asked her for information,  she in fact misinformed me.   Also, any therapist who doesn't understand that the suicide risks have not been shown to improve with medical transition or who doesn't know that there's insufficient evidence to show that hormones are safe or effective (according to a massive recent evidence review) may not know enough.