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Supporting Youth With Gender Dysphoria

May, 01, 2018 / by Victor Staff

Gender Dysphoria -902377784At Victor Community Support Services we encourage all of our employees to share their stories of success, progress, or even just a small victory that lets them know they are making a difference for someone.

The need for support services for youth with gender dysphoria is on the rise. These are often complicated situations involving youth that are at a transitional stage of development, families that may or may not understand and social and cultural expectations that may not align with how this young person is feeling.

In a recent paper by Diane EhrensaftPh.D. called Gender nonconforming youth: current perspectives, she says:

The field of interdisciplinary treatment for gender nonconforming children and youth has not just expanded at an astronomically fast rate; to switch metaphors, it has rather been such as a tsunami, with a swell of children and families seeking support and services and stretching existing gender clinics and programs at their seams. This cohort of young people includes those who do not accept the sex assignment given to them at birth, those who do not accept their culture’s expectations and rules about gender roles and gender behaviors, and those who present with a combination of both.

Many of you may already be working with these types of cases in your clinical work. This story comes from Kelsey Baumstinger, Wraparound Facilitator at VCSS, Grass Valley:

We have been serving this client for ten months and she was introduced as a “tomboy,” loves sports specifically playing peewee football and expressed interest in body building and exercise. The client presented with high anxiety, low self-esteem and frequent engagement in familial conflicts. Throughout my time as her Mental Health Rehabilitation Specialist the client began to express experiencing “gender dysphoria.”

The client had been independently researching “questioning gender identity symptoms” and was prepared to discuss her feelings of disassociation with her biological gender.  With the support of her therapist and wraparound facilitator, we carefully documented the client’s statements and expressed desire to transition her gender expression to male. I supported the client in verbalizing his concerns and desires to family members with the help of a school counselor and his therapist. The client’s parents were receptive but cautious and concerned with potential risks.

We utilized community supports to provide education and interview opportunities with local agencies and individuals who have completed their gender transitions. I supported the client in beginning to attend a local Gay Straight Alliance meeting to identify peer allies, I worked with school counselors and officials to determine best practice for assisting the client’s transition to male pronouns and chosen name. I provided background information of “what to expect” and contact information for medical doctors in the community that specialize in gender identity health concerns to the client’s parents.

He continues to receive services and has shown vast improvement in reducing anxiety and familial conflicts. He continues to battle self-esteem concerns which appear closely related to his transition. His family members have come a long way in identifying how to be supportive and changing their language to meet his needs. We are on the road to success and he is an amazingly brave and inspiring young man.   

It's great to hear the stories of progress in these complicated situations. Most families are unprepared to deal with situations like gender dysphoria and Victor's services can help them to understand and communicate better with each other. As this issue comes to the forefront of adolescent mental health, we continue to equip our staff with the right tools to serve our clients.

At Victor, we believe that every individual deserves a chance to succeed.

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Topics: Staff Stories

Victor Staff

Written by Victor Staff

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