Sexuality and Gender

Humans are sexual beings. Some of us are oriented toward the opposite gender, others toward our own gender, and many more to both genders.

As well, gender itself is more than just the binary male/female we've tended to consider. At Changeways Clinic we provide services to trans-identified individuals - those dealing with trans-specific issues and those simply coping with other life concerns but wishing to see someone within a supportive environment.

At Changeways Clinic we offer services for people experiencing a wide variety of concerns related to sexual orientation and gender identity. Here are a few examples of the reasons people come to see us:

Questioning orientation. Many people find themselves questioning whether they are gay, straight, or bisexual. Although there is no rule that says we must define ourselves clearly and for good, this issue has a bearing on the relationships we form and aspects of the future we envision for ourselves. Upon reflection, some discover that they indeed have a bisexual or predominantly gay orientation. Many others discover that they are predominantly or exclusively heterosexual, and that the concern was the product of worry or society's negative attitude toward nonconformity.

Questioning gender identity. At some point in life, some individuals come to question whether they identify with the gender they may have been assigned at birth. A period of personal exploration and discovery can ensue - often aided by a helpful listener and counselor.

Coming out. Being open about a nonheterosexual orientation or non-cis gender identity can be a profoundly important - and difficult - issue for many people. Who do you come out to? How? When? Although a counselor cannot answer these questions for you, counseling offers the opportunity for exploring the issues, addressing one's hopes and fears, and making difficult decisions. A counselor can also help with planning, preparation, and rehearsal, plus support before and after.

Negotiating the LGBT community. Few gay, lesbian, or trans people are raised in gay or trans households, so coming out can feel like an entry into a foreign culture. How do I create a group of friends? What community resources are available? How does dating go? What is the role of being gay within my overall life? If gay, how do I deal with the challenges within a same-sex relationship? These and other issues can be addressed in counseling.

Straight spouse, gay spouse. Many people discover their sexual orientation once they are in a heterosexual marriage, or realize that a pre-existing same-sex orientation needs to be addressed. This can be a major disruption in the lives of both spouses. At Changeways Clinic we have seen heterosexual spouses who have realized that their partner is gay or lesbian, and the gay/lesbian/bisexual partners themselves. Both deserve care and support in facing what can be a difficult life challenge.

Ex-exgays. In recent years, national psychological and psychiatric organizations have reviewed the research on programs designed to help gay, lesbian, and bisexual people to become heterosexual. In general, the findings suggest that strategies to change sexual orientation are ineffective and psychologically harmful in the majority of cases. Despite this, "exgay therapy" and groups continue. At Changeways Clinic we have seen many people who have found these programs ineffective and wish to pursue a more accepting approach - and undo any damage done.

Relationship issues. Although same-sex relationships may be legally equal, they are not the same as mixed-gender relationships in all respects. Some of the differences are special challenges, others are special opportunities. Counseling can help same-gendered couples overcome the former and make the most of the latter.

...and more. Concerned parents and family members. People dealing with HIV/AIDS. Sexual difficulties. Coping with the aftereffects of antigay discrimination or violence. Let us know the issue, and we'll let you know if we can help. If it's outside our area of expertise, we can often help you find an alternative provider.