By Melissa J. Johnson, PH.D.
Founder & CEO
As an organization dedicated to empowering girls, their families and their circles of community, we have been thinking deeply about our role in empowering gender non-conforming, non-binary and trans youth. Coinciding with our own deep reflections, we find that parents, teens and young adults are asking more frequently about services for youth who may be questioning or who may not identify with their gender assigned at birth. We thought it would be helpful to share about our approach to working with gender diversity. This spectrum of gender diversity includes but is not limited to gender non-conforming, transgender, non-binary and gender-questioning youth. We describe our practice here at the Institute as trans affirmative. We are committed to providing culturally competent, developmentally appropriate, respectful, aware therapy to gender non-conforming, transgender and non-binary youth and their families. Our approach is individualized, interdisciplinary, and collaborative.
- Individualized: we seek to understand the unique lived experience of each of our clients and their families.
- Interdisciplinary: we are committed to incorporating into our work an understanding of biological, psychological and social factors that influence our client’s lives.
- Collaborative: with the client’s and client’s family’s permission, we are dedicated to working with other professionals who are involved in supporting youth and families. Communication, cooperation and collaboration are especially important in light of the complex emotional, social and medical paths to navigate, not to mention discrimination and stigma.
We have several therapists on our team with a specialized interest in working with children, teens, young adults and families in which a member identifies as transgender, non-binary or gender non-conforming. We have also spent time cultivating relationships with other professionals who specialize in this area. This allows us to help non-binary and trans youth and their families build a team of support and knowledge for the complex journey they are navigating. These additional resources also help us as we walk alongside individuals seeking to authentically articulate and live out their gender identity and gender expression. At one of our recent clinical team meetings, we spent some time diving deep regarding gender and gender identity. We discussed the gender identity statement we’ve included here and that you’ve just read. One team member asked wisely, can we add to our gender identity statement that we are still learning? YES! We will always still be learning. And as we learn, we will continue to share resources with you, our community. See below for an article and resources from two of our therapists, Mary Schultz and Rebecca Turner: What is Gender Identity Anyway? You can also learn about Rainbow Grit, our group for LGBTQIA youth, facilitated by Kara Johnson, LMFT.