Transgender therapy?
June 28, 2016 3:31 PM   Subscribe

I want to transition. How can I find a trustworthy gender therapist in the Philly suburban area?

I'm a transfeminine transgender person who's just presented as masculine my whole life, because I was assigned male at birth, and it's the path of least resistance. I know I'm trans though, and I've come to realize that I'll be most happy with myself if I'm able to come out as a trans woman and transition to presenting as female, but I've taken next to no steps towards doing so.

I have a lot of questions about transitioning and trans issues in general, but forget about that, a lot of what I need to do starts with actually just seeing a gender therapist. I'm just not very sure if I'm doing that part right. A couple weeks ago I started seeing a therapist (actually a licensed social worker) who I found with Psychology Today's "Find A Therapist" feature; I just searched the northeast suburbs of Philadelphia for people who indicated they have experience dealing with transgender patients. For the past two sessions I've really only recounted my life, highlighting areas and instances of particular dysphoria.

I've been a little put off at times, because her grasp of terminology is... not great? She consistently keeps using "transgender" as a verb, as in she's "helped people transgender". And on one occasion she described the first time she met a transgender person, a coworker who she called a "trans man" but referred to by female pronouns, and it was clear from her description she was actually talking about someone who was a trans woman (though this meeting was in the 1970s). I didn't questioned her or anything on those occasions because I'm very, very, very confrontation-avoidant, which is maybe part of my whole problem.

tldr: I'm looking for advice about how to find an experienced gender therapist who can help guide me on the path to eventually start medically transitioning if my current therapist turns out not to be what I'm looking for. (Or am I getting ahead of myself and should just keep seeing this one and get a better sense of her qualifications?)

(Also, for what it's worth, my current therapist doesn't take my insurance, which is Medicaid-provided Keystone First; she at least charges on a sliding scale determined by my income, which isn't much)
posted by elsilnora to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My therapist has amazing things to say about Dr. Christine McGinn at the Papillion Center in New Hope, PA. She is a trans woman herself and looks to be amazingly accomplished and focused on trans issues and support.
posted by julthumbscrew at 3:41 PM on June 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm not in Philadelphia myself, but if you haven't already checked out the Mazzoni Center's Philadelphia Trans* Resource Guide, it might be a helpful place to start. As well as info regarding local supports and resources, there's also a listing of health professionals.
posted by northernish at 4:18 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

Open Path can help you find someone with a sliding scale outside of insurance.

I would change therapists because yours is maybe too confused to be helpful on this topic. She needs to update her understanding. I would straight-up ask your next therapist before your appointment what their experience working with trans clients is, and see what they say. Or treat the first session as an audition.
posted by blnkfrnk at 4:51 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mazzoni Center counseling: Mazzoni Center is a licensed outpatient mental health and substance abuse treatment provider, offering quality professional, accessible and culturally-affirming psychotherapy and psychiatric services for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals, couples and families who are seeking to enjoy healthy and more fulfilling lives.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:37 PM on June 28, 2016

It's likely worth just going to the Mazzoni Center and not trying to find someone good in the suburbs (unless Mazzoni can give you a name). They've been doing this a long time. (Note: they also do hormones on an informed consent basis, IIRC.)
posted by hoyland at 7:19 PM on June 28, 2016

Also, it's safe to treat basic grasp of vocabulary as a prerequisite for a therapist who says they have experience with trans people. You don't actually need a "gender therapist", but often experience working with trans people is a good thing.

Additionally, familiarise yourself with the Standards of Care. The most conservative reading of the SOC you can come up with is the maximum amount of hoop-jumping that a decent therapist should ask of you. Even if you're totally not ready for any sort of medical transition anytime soon (or on the fence about it entirely!), it's a way to gauge how up-to-date someone is.
posted by hoyland at 7:33 PM on June 28, 2016

A comprehensive reply from a friend without an account:
Mazzoni is a good suggestion but it will take too long and they might not have anyone. I recommend Lola Georg, MS. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in working with trans clients, among other things. She can be reached at and (484) 324-8370. She accepts insurance but it's important to say what kind of insurance the person has at first contact (true for all providers) to ensure she can work with theirs.

Also, Mazzoni is particularly good for informed consent hormones. That means you can make a new patient appointment, go in, and get a hormone prescription pretty quickly, no therapy letter required. If that's not needed right now, that's okay. They ask for a patient's name in addition to their legal name (if they are different) and also they ask what your pronouns are on the intake forms, and staff will respect you for who you are.

Mazzoni is also good for letters and forms to change gender markers with all different institutions, for that you need to contact Lisa Phillips at after you are an established patient.

New Hope is too far and McGinn is too expensive.

The Walnut Therapy Center is also another option but they do have a waiting list. I am not sure but I believe they offer services on a sliding scale in addition to accepting insurance, but again, it's important to confirm they accept YOUR insurance.

Mazzoni works with almost every insurance under the sun, they are great at coding things to get the care covered (though that will be a problem less and less with the new HHS rule being out), and they also offer services on a sliding scale, as well as hormone prescriptions through the attached Walgreen's (you ask for the price on "The Mazzoni Plan" if your insurance does not cover it). Again, this problem will phase out at the latest by the beginning of each person's next plan year starting January 1, 2017, per the HHS rule. The rule is also applicable to a smaller extent on July 18, 2016, but the wording is too vague so some insurance companies may try to weasel out of it.

The important thing is that for hormones and letters, there is no gatekeeping at Mazzoni. You don't have to be "a certain kind of trans" to get treatment there. Non-binary folks can access more customized hormone regimens if they need them (and anyone can), trans men can receive prenatal care there, etc. They do offer lower cost electrolysis still, I believe, but it's still an expensive undertaking.
posted by lumensimus at 7:44 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

Thank you all so much for your advice! I will definitely contact the Mazzoni Center for sure; they sound really comprehensive. Open Path looks like a good place to search for an experienced therapist (looking up Dr. McGinn, she sounds like she's more specialized toward the surgery stage of transitioning and I'm nooooowhere near that far yet, but it sounds like it couldn't hurt to contact her office for advice). I'll read up on the Standards of Care too, which I'm more "aware of" than familiar with.

Thank you all very much!
posted by elsilnora at 10:13 PM on June 28, 2016 [3 favorites]

You could also search the Kink Aware Professional directory maintained by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.

The Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition might have some contacts or resources they could share with you.
posted by dancing leaves at 5:14 AM on June 29, 2016

You could also search the Kink Aware Professional directory maintained by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom.

Uh... I disagree with this. Being transgender has absolutely nothing to do with kink or sexuality and it's kind of offensive to suggest so, because it's been used as a weapon against this. From very personal experience, lots of kinky people have no concept of what being transgender involves. It's certainly possible that a therapist who serves a kinky population might be more open-minded, but it's absolutely no indication they're more experienced.

I've also heard good things about the Mazzoni center. Also, did you know there was just a trans health conference in Philly a few weeks ago?
posted by AFABulous at 8:19 AM on June 29, 2016

Thanks, dancing leaves. I agree with AFABulous bout the Kink Aware directory, but I might look into the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition for resources.

AFABulous, I hadn't heard about the health conference! I'm sorry I missed it, but I know I never would have worked up the gumption to go. Somehow it's really heartening to know about it anyway? Like knowing that there's been stuff like that nearby kind of makes me a little more hopeful about the whole thing. Thank you!

I'm still looking into everybody's suggestions. Thank you all so so so much!
posted by elsilnora at 6:37 PM on July 1, 2016

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