Moving From Affirmation to Liberation in Psychological Practice With Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Clients

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Abstract

While affirmative approaches with transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) clients are gaining momentum within psychological practice (American Counseling Association, 2010; American Psychological Association, 2015), there is a simultaneous and pressing need to move beyond TGNC-affirmative to TGNC-liberatory approaches to more fully address how societal gender binaries influence both psychologist and client. Psychologists may use the lens of liberation psychology (Martín-Baró, 1996) to transform the ways they work with TGNC clients. Using this perspective, psychologists can reflect on their own gender journey and experiences, identify how cisgender privilege influences counseling and psychological practice, and advocate for TGNC people to be better served in the settings in which they work. Psychologists are then able to engage in social change on behalf of, and in collaboration with, TGNC people in ways that simultaneously liberate psychologists from their own gender oppression experiences.

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