Gender Affirmative Lifespan Approach (GALA™)
Gender Affirmative Lifespan Approach
Clinically, the Center has developed a set of innovative practices tailored specifically to address issues across the entire lifespan; children, adolescents, young adults, adults and older adults, known as the ‘Gender Affirmative Lifespan Approach’ (GALA™). Based in theory and research showing stigma and discrimination contribute to negative health outcomes for transgender and gender diverse people, our Gender Affirmative Lifespan Approach is aimed at countering the internalization of this stigma and improving mental health outcomes by increasing gender literacy, building resiliency, moving beyond the gender binary, connections to medical care, and promoting positive sexuality.
We believe that transgender is an identity NOT a disorder. It is central to our approach that trans-identities just like cis-identities are a normal part of the spectrum of gender experience. Everyone has a gender.
Across the Lifespan
Across the Lifespan
Generational differences (might even be 5 year differences) are profound in terms of the changes in societal acceptance and stigma, increasing availability of medical interventions, the explosion of trans and gender creative narratives that are available through social media, and the embracing of a broader range of identities.
Because of this, our lifespan approach ensures that these different age groups get what they need. Development is important. Adolescents are NOT adults and children are NOT adolescents. Ways of thinking about adult transgender clients are trickling down to adolescents and ways of thinking about adolescents are trickling down to children. GALA™ is invested in taking into account the developmental issues that are supported in the research.
In providing competent trans health services, we must focus on the larger cultural context. This has been established in the empirical literature; for example, in minority stress models and the concept of syndemics, race, class, religion, age, location are important. Through the concept of intersectionality, GALA™ keeps all these aspects of identity and how they shape a person’s gendered experience on the radar screen.
Mental Health Providers
Specialized gender assessment, address mental/emotional concerns resulting from coping with stigma, strain of transition process, individual gender exploration, family therapy
Physicians (Family Medicine, Endocrinologists, Psychiatrists, Internists)
prescribe hormones and possibly psychotropic medications
referral to surgical interventions
gender confirming surgeries, aftercare and follow up
Social Workers/Patient Navigators
insurance issues, legal issues with name changes, passports, etc.
Other Academic Disciplines (developmental psychologists, ethicists)
Community Support Resources
Work to repair the distrust that has been built up due to historic medical gatekeeping role
- being very up front about the role of therapy
- being very up front about navigation toward medical interventions and the fact that even though an informed consent model is used, mental health providers still have to write referral letters for surgeons and insurance issues.
- write referral letters in session and give copy to the client
Transparency within ourselves
- being aware of our biases/assumptions about what it means to be transgender or gender non-conforming
- understanding our own gender journey