Our advice is: don’t go to a psychologist on the spur of a moment, but prepare yourself first. You can do this by thinking about three important questions:
1) Which treatment program suits you best?
Is it your choice to go to a gender team? Or is the route via an independent psychologist, general practitioner/independent hormone specialist and/or an operation outside a gender team better for you?
These questions are not easy to answer. We recommend you to read along in Facebook-groups for transgender people, to find support groups where you can speak with others (Vereniging Genderdiversiteit, Transvisie, COC’s, etc), and to read the reports from Transvisie and Principle17.
It is best to make the choice for a gender team or a "free route" before you speak with a psychologist. It is cumbersome to switch from a "free route" to a gender team because gender teams follow quite rigid protocols. This means that a referral letter from an independent psychologist is no guarantee that you will easily get hormones or operations from a gender team.
When you know this, you can make an appointment with a psychologist. Ask yourself the following two questions:
2) Which medical care do you need?
Do you need hormones only or operations too? Do you need just one operation or multiple operations?
For trans women who need hormones: do you need estrogens only, or do you need anti-testosterone as well?
What do you expect from the medical treatment(s)? (First gain knowledge by reading Facebook-groups or internet forums, and also look at the brochures from Patienten organisatie Transvisie!)
If you need operations, which operations do you need – and why do you think you cannot live without those?
You don’t have to feel ashamed to go see a (supportive) psychologist, when you don’t (yet?) need medical interventions!
3) Which help do you need from the psychologist?
Are you just looking for a psychologist who can give you a referral or do you also expect help in your transition?
Or maybe you would, ideally, like to see no psychologist at all?
The psychologist will always want know where you are in your transition process:
- Which actions have you done already? What were your feelings when you did that?
- If you haven’t taken many actions yet, why do you want to take medical actions first?
Ask your psychologist about the main characteristics of their diagnostic method. Some psychologists require you to undergo a mental health program with them. Some transgender people like to do that, but others don’t. If you are a trans woman and you are going to a gender team, also ask what their rules for hormone therapy are: some gender teams require you to take both anti-male and female hormones. This may or may not be in agreement with your points of view.
During your first meeting be honest to yourself and to the care provider. If your psychologist/care provider only wants to work in a way that doesn’t suit you, it is probably better to find another care provider who better meets your requirements first. It is not disgraceful to come back later and tell the psychologist that you didn’t succeed in finding a psychologist/care provider who can offer exactly what you are looking for. Being honest to yourself is something everyone can only appraise; it will not be used against you. It is a much greater problem if you have first waited for months until the psychologist/care provider finally has time for you and then, after a few meetings, find out he is not willing/able to offer what is needed for your process.