The sky was appropriately gray as I exited the university building that housed the Student Health Center which offers “LGBT Couseling.” I left disillusioned, a little angry and generally upset. Unfortunately, the entire experience had been entirely negative. To be fair though, it wasn’t the counselor’s fault that he did not have any experience with trans people. It would not take much convincing if someone told me I was the first transgender person to enter that building. It was also not his fault that the school’s website advertised LGBT counseling without having an actual LGBT counselor. It was a little his fault that he wasn’t even aware that the website offered that. Additionally, I don’t know how long he has been doing what he does but it surprised me the he hadn’t even heard the initialism “LGBT”.
I first got concerned less than five minutes after starting to talk with him when he stopped to Google the definition of transgender. So, then I explained what I meant, after he read the internet’s definition. After about a minute and a half, I wanted to leave. I realized that we were not going to make any progress but I didn’t know how to leave politely and I hate being rude. We talked, for an excruciatingly long 45 minutes. His process seemed random. He asked me random questions about my life and then would switch back to asking questions about being transgender and then back again with no apparent structure. Now this was my first time talking to anyone like this, so I don’t know if that is a normal way to move the conversation. I remember one thing he said a couple times was that being transgender is “not normal.” Is that a thing? Is it typical for professionals to use the normal word?
When all was said and done, the only “help” he tried to provide was to recommend I get blood work to check for hormone imbalance. Then he regaled me with a story from his youth where a young man(or boy really), who he said was effeminate (though he did not specify if that was physically or socially), was treated by being given testosterone. That doesn’t seem like a way to help people, by using an anecdote from 50 years ago to come up with a “treatment.”
Finally, it was over and I was free to leave. “No, I would not like to schedule a follow up. K thanks, bye.” And so I stepped out under the gray sky. Luckily, I like gloomy weather and the windy walk across the bridge to my classroom helped me more than any conversation with that man.
There is, I believe, one therapist with some experience with trans people in the Valley that I hope to go to. I am hopeful that this horrible first experience can be put behind me and I can move on to a helpful counselor. I am, however, not looking forward to having to pay for therapy. I wanted the school’s free counseling to be helpful.