How can I be a supportive friend or family member to someone exploring their gender identity?

Someone who is experiencing gender dysphoria can feel disrespected or distressed when they are misgendered or if their dead name is used. First offering your own preferred name and pronouns can be a helpful way of helping feel comfortable to share theirs. If you know them well, ask. Ask what you can do that will help them – what name they prefer, pronouns and how they would like you to address them privately and in front of others. Talk in an open, non-judgmental way and provide acceptance and support. Being aware that someone who is exploring their gender identity may find different labels at different times, and staying up to date with what they prefer will help them feel respected and understood. You may make mistakes at first, and that is okay. Rather than making it a big deal, briefly correct yourself and make a conscious effort next time you engage with them. Encourage those around you who are exploring their gender identity to engage with gender-affirming health professionals such as GPs and psychologists if they are going through a tough time. Lastly, research. The links below are examples of gender-affirming services that provide comprehensive information, and keeping yourself informed will help you help others.

What are the signs I might need professional support? 

If you have been experiencing feelings of anxiety or low mood for more than two weeks, it may be time to talk to someone. The experience of gender dysphoria can be extremely distressing, and connecting with gender-affirming health professionals can be extremely helpful. More specific signs of anxiety and depression may include having panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, suicidal thoughts, abrupt mood swings, having little interest in things you used to enjoy, low mood and feeling tired all the time, as well as persistent, generalised anxiety.

Where do I go for more information/help?

Due to the distress involved in Gender Dysphoria, early intervention is key in managing associated difficulties with mental health and the gender dysphoria itself. Across Australia there are a number of organisations and health centres providing specific support around gender and sexual identify.  Thus, if you or those around you notice signs of anxiety, depression or other difficulties, book an appointment with your General Practitioner (GP) or obstetrician to discuss options and for them to help you find a suitable psychologist or mental health professional. For parents proactively supporting your children is so important and staying informed is crucial, and a wide array of resources can be found in this parenting group -

Spencer Health is proud the be a gender affirming practice and are welcoming of all clients who are looking for support with their gender identity or sexual orientation.

In a crisis or if you are suicidal, contact a 24 hour crisis support line such as Lifeline Australia (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) or the Mental Health Line (1800 011 511). QLife offers a gender-specific crisis support line and Webchat (1800 184 657). Additionally, you can present to your nearest hospital’s Emergency Department or call 000.

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