“Will they try to make some deep, Freudian connection between my desire for women and my deep, paralysing fear of flying?” 

I laugh awkwardly and start babbling. “Oh, well, you know, I’m just a huge supporter of LGBT rights. I believe the human experience is so vast, and…”

Lies. I am so gay. 

Typically, I take every opportunity to let other people know just how queer I am, short of throwing confetti in their face whilst sporting a “FEAR THIS QUEER” badge, but as I sit across from my new therapist, who I’ve known for all of thirty minutes, suddenly I’m finding every way of shimmying back into the closet. 

It isn’t just the question, but the slightly patronising tone she uses as her eyes bore into mine. I feel like I’m liable to turn to stone just looking at her. Confronting the fact that you’re mentally unwell enough to see a therapist can be tough enough, and attempting to find a therapist who syncs with your personality adds another level of stress, but there’s something even worse when talk of my sexuality comes into play.

I have been diagnosed with Panic Disorder and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) for a number of years, and in attempts to curb its symptoms, I’ve used medication, exercise, and deep breathing, to varying degrees of success. Additionally, I’ve frequented the offices of a multitude of therapists, but never lasted more than a few sessions. 

It’s not that I don’t enjoy talking about myself, because believe me, I’m a treat. It’s just feeling open to discussing all the bad bits of your life with a virtual stranger requires frank bravery, which I struggle to possess even on my best days. 

When the subject eventually comes around to my sexuality, I feel myself shutdown further. There’s always the worry of the personal opinion of a therapist regarding LGBTQI sentiments. Of course, they should be operating professionally, but there’s always the chance they believe you shouldn’t have basic human rights. 

In a study done by Stonewall in 2008, half of lesbians and bi women were said to have negative experiences with healthcare professionals, and only another half were out to their GP (no, you really don’t understand, I don’t need birth control). Then there’s the issue of how a therapist will regard your sexuality in comparison to your mental health. Will they try to make some deep, Freudian connection between my desire for women and my deep, paralysing fear of flying? 

The desire to bond with a therapist is based in my want to be understood, to feel safe and vulnerable enough to better myself through dialogue. My sexuality is a core part of who I am, and it is an injustice not to include it when in therapy, but there is also fear of rejection, assumption, and the inability to connect. 

Despite feeling alone in my mental health journey, I know three quarters of lesbians and bi women experience symptoms of anxiousness or nervousness, and that number only increases for queer women of colour (QWOC). To say the root of my (or any queer woman’s) mental health issues stems from sexuality-based oppression, but equally the aggressions of living life as an out and proud queer lady can take their toll. Similarly, closeted individuals should feel safe to explore their identity with a therapist, not struggle to maintain a semblance of heterosexuality.    

I don’t have an answer. Awareness has been perpetrated through studies, encouraging better training in health care professionals to meet the specific needs of LGBT+ patients, but the practical results of such efforts certainly have their shortcomings. 

Various UK LGBT-friendly therapists exist – check out Shoreditch Therapy if you’re in London, or Pink Therapy, a UK wide directory to find one near you – but people’s accessibility to such resources varies by location and economic situation. I’m fortunate to have a tremendously supportive network of friends who I can wholeheartedly open up to in times of crisis, but it isn’t quite the same as a trained professional. 

What I hope is no queer woman, myself included, feels she can’t seek help due to judgment or fear of oppression. Taking the initiative to better oneself should be rewarded, and handled carefully and sensitively. Talk of sexuality or gender identity should be done on your terms, as you feel it applies to a situation or symptoms. 

As queer women, we should demand respect from health care professionals, settling for nothing less than open-mindedness and acceptance. 

If you are in need of mental health support or treatment, consider these resources put together by mind.org.uk.  

One thought on “VIEWS: Coming out to your therapist”

  1. I totally get what you are saying, putting trust in another human being, whether male, female or like me intersex female with Kleinfelters, CAIS & Gynaemastia..

    I have a totally female mindset & brain type + female dexterity & skeletal traits including pelvis.

    I strongly dislike masculinity / male dominated media & society and yes i practice equality totally & into saving nature, as i am a horticulturalist with a mission.

    Getting any kind of therapy has to be with a female therapist ideally lgbt ally, as i have a severe phobia of men, image and gender dysphoria, anxiety and variable personality disorder due to 24/7 gender fluidity, as my genetic status is AMAB Intersex female CAIS A+ & my new gender status Agender queer non binary female…

    Doctors/ GIC in 1999 ( after mosiac 47 XXY was diagnosed ( at aged 38) decided i needed to be made male again as was in hetro relationship, so was 10 years as a Transmasculine person too on T, (& binding was painful), it did not work out as screwed my feminine head and made me ill, causing thrombosis that stopped my heart..i had regular psychosexual counselling for first 5 years of that !

    So I have waited until December 2019 to comeout via Stonewall after a visit & email to G.I.L.E.S. website.Rethink ..Switchboard..UK Transtherapy..Mind- Lighthouse.They were super helpful.

    I told my doctors in 31/12/19 i wanted to re- Transition to full female.. So I started living & dressing female from
    1 st January 2020…

    Fortunately for me I joined D & G (Scotland) LGBT+, I attended a local LGBT+ meeting in Feb 20, just before Covid-19.

    D&G LGBT+ were super understanding, and found me a LGBT Therapist through there zoom user services and have also completed a Mindfulness for living course, which has mentally put me in a better place.

    I now have a Bi female partner, as been living on own for 2 1/2 years, as just started my divorce from hetro wife number two..My new partner is a physician and is totalky understanding of my medical & mental problems, which is super helpful as we are both on the LGBT+QIA spectrum.

    So 70% female, 30% male- hormonally 98% female, female bust & part ovaries had a female voice until i had a snip that went wrong at aged 34-before i discovered i was Intersex & born sterile!..

    I have a a deeper voice, size 12 feet! (as just discovered I was born with rickets & Coeliac too, so drastic re- think of diet, so using an estrogen rich diet, until next GIC appointment for Female re- transition & possible Esteriol HRT at 57!..It has been a lot to take in a short space of time

    I may just go for a Labiaplasty ( I am awaiting an abdominal scan to see if other female parts are present).

    Or do I stay as i am, for genetic reasons, as have an acute blood disorder- not enough red or white blood cells & raynauds , very low blood pressure/ bpm 48-50, could be risky!

    I would be interested io know if others have had similar experiences and did your de/ re- transition of one’s femaleness path continued, i have started wirting a interesting part rural UK life/ semi auto bigraphical book, it will be an interesting read…

    Thank you all at Diva, i am enjoying being here- It is truly a re- education for me and very positively entertaining 😊🥰

    (without that pityfully dire drag content
    that other publications promote- i loathe it, so degrading to female kind in my view)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.