Dr. Ray Blanchard Archive

What Every Trans Person Should Ask Their Mental Health Provider

For me, deciding to see a therapist about my gender dysphoria was a huge step. It was the first time I had told another human being face to face that I thought I was transgender. I was lucky; the psychologist in the area who is known for taking trans clients was full up and couldn’t take me. She recommended a colleague whom I had never heard of. I gave her a chance, and she turned out to be phenomenal. She was non-judgmental, listened well, asked insightful questions, and in the end became someone whose insights and ideas I trusted.

Bad Psychiatry Still Haunts Us

In 1988, when I had just turned 14, I made the life changing mistake of trying to figure out what I was using the materials I had on hand. In this case, it was a copy of the book written by Dr. David Reuben in 1968, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (But Were Afraid to Ask).” The book came from my mother’s top shelf on adult topics, and for a kids just hitting puberty and dying slowly with the changes, I needed answers. Namely, why did puberty feel so wrong, why did I feel a need to be female, and why did I pray every night to wake up right.

An Interesting Hypothesis

In the early 1950’s, a well known Canadian psychiatrist named Dr. Donald Ewen Cameron developed the concept of “psychic driving.” The idea was that mental illnesses could be cured by reprogramming new narratives into subjects. He recruited from the local community to participate in his studies. Most of his volunteer subjects suffered from relatively minor psychiatric complaints, such as neurosis or depression.