You are currently browsing all posts tagged with 'LGBT Therapy'.

Dear Christine, Worried in Waterford

  • Posted on April 14, 2018 at 10:38 am

Dear Christine, My partner of 18 years actually won’t come out of the house anymore. “Jim” worked hard, saved his money and retired about 3 years ago at age 59. We share a nice home and have amazing friends. Life is good for us but there’s one problem. “Jim” hates going anywhere! It started slowly. At first it seemed he just came out less and less always making excuses why he didn’t want to attend a party or go shopping. We had a pretty active social life that is becoming less and less active and more stay at home. If friends call to do something he often encourages me to just go ahead without him. He has a headache or wants to finish a book he is reading or any number of reasons. I have asked him if there is any problem. He says no. He doesn’t seem to be depressed and we often have friends over for dinner parties and game nights which he loves. I am beginning to wonder if there is something going on and he is becoming one of those people who can’t leave the house. My question: Is there someway for me to be able…

Dear Christine, Transitioning in Trenton

  • Posted on April 8, 2018 at 10:29 am

Dear Christine, I guess I should start off by saying that I am a transsexual. Even though I was born male and have done “boy” things, I’ve always felt like a girl on the inside, and dreamed about being a girl on the outside. However, I’m so uncertain about transitioning. I’m so afraid. Will I become an outcast? Will I ever meet someone who would want me for a companion? Its just such a big decision, and a big step. And yet, being 19, everyone I’ve talked to (both TS and non-TS) tell me that if I’m going to transition, I should do it now before it is “too late”. I guess I just need some advice about where to go from here. Everyday I get really depressed. All I can think about is transitioning. Yet I’m afraid that the reality of being a transitioned TS will be worse than what I am now. A person who is in the wrong body. Transitioning in Trenton Dear Transitioning, First of all, there’s no rush! Many people transition in their 20s, 30s and 40s, and I’ve known some to transition after they retired, as they didn’t feel safe going through it while…

Dear Christine, Polite in Pontiac

  • Posted on March 18, 2018 at 7:42 pm

Dear Christine, I sit on the board of a well known LGBT organization in Metro Detroit and on two or three occasions I have shared an idea I had with a fellow board member only to have that board member, a supposedly good friend of mine, bring that idea to the board, taking full credit for the idea. He has also done that in personal situations; sharing my thoughts and ideas as if he never heard them from me first.  In these situations, I have pretty much been polite and kept my mouth shut, although the last time I shot him a pretty serious WTF look. I have shared other people’s ideas but always give them the credit, and then ask them to share the idea. Am I too polite? It’s been several times now and my patience is wearing thin. Signed Polite in Pontiac Dear Polite, You are too polite!  Group dynamics on an organizational board are similar to the dynamics of our family of origin.  So, perhaps you were polite at home, and that was respected and your family gave you credit for your own ideas without you having to fight to be heard.  Or perhaps you had…

Dear Christine, Ready in Redford

  • Posted on March 11, 2018 at 7:13 am

Dear Christine,

I’ve come across your columns on line and enjoy them. While I see you mostly seem to deal with LGBT issues, I assume you work with straight couples in your practice too.

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 5 years. He spends a couple nights at my house, I spend a couple nights at his, and we spend a couple on our own. We tell each other I love you all the time. He’s never mentioned marriage though. We were only 22 when we met and now at 27, I feel like I want to be married and start a family. I’ve been old school, waiting for home to ask. Any ideas on how to get him to pop the question?

Signed,

Ready in Redford

Dear Ready,
Thanks for  following my blog and taking the time to write a question.  I do work with all kinds of people and relationships, not just the LGBTQIA… population.  Your situation sounds familiar.  You’re in a long term, serious relationship and after 5 years you are ready to make a legal commitment, marriage.  But you don’t know where your boyfriend is on this topic.  I’d suggest some direct conversation about what you need and want in a relationship, as those needs and wants probably have changed over the time together.  Do you really have no idea where he stands on marriage after 5 years together?  Have you ever talked about what you want in the future, careers, kids, finances, where to live, what to live in:  apartment, condo or house?

You both were young when you met and have grown up with each other in a way.  Now you sound ready to take another step.  A healthy relationship allows you both to feel emotionally safe enough to honestly explore your thoughts and needs about the relationship.  If you just wait for him to “pop the question” you may wait forever!  If you bring it up, then you both get a chance to share your hopes and dreams, your fears and also your non-negotiables.  Non-negotiables are those things that you must have or you cannot have in a long-term, committed relationship.  Perhaps you don’t want to live with someone who smokes, or who uses drugs, or who doesn’t keep a job.  Those are important boundaries to communicate so that you both know what you each need.  If he needs to smoke, and you need him to quit, it’s probably a losing battle for you.  He needs to find it in himself to quit, and if he quits for you, you retain the credit and/or blame of his ability to quit or relapse.

Non-negotiables will cut through the chatter and help you both see if you are headed in the same direction with your life goals.  For example, some people do not want to have children at all.  If you know your boyfriend is like that, don’t think that you will change his mind or convince him to eventually have a baby with you.  My parents’ best friends had two daughters that the couple both wanted.  The wife, however, wanted a 3rd baby and knew her husband didn’t.  She tricked him into getting her pregnant and he never would have much to do with his son.  That son had a lot of issues as he grew up feeling ignored and not wanted by his father, and by high school was into drugs and the wrong crowd.

You have invested a lot in this relationship, but the only way to know if he wants to keep investing in it with you is to begin to have conversations about what you need.  If you cannot have this direct a conversation, that might tell you something about how emotionally safe you really feel with him.  If you don’t risk, you won’t ever what you really want.  Take a risk and have a heart-to-heart talk about the future.

Christine Cantrell, PhD

Psychologist

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Depressed in Detroit

  • Posted on February 26, 2018 at 6:18 am

Dear Christine,

Gender confusion, Please Help!?

I am 21 years old, biological male, and suffering a from a very extreme depression. This depression has been quite a constant in my life and I’m keen to be rid of it. I know it’s stemming from the doubt, anxiety, and confusion that comes in the delightfully painful package that we call gender confusion. Mentally, at least, I’ve always been female. I’ve decided on two courses of action. Getting help from s’s many sources as possible in an attempt to fix myself and if that doesn’t work then I’m just going to see myself out. Talking me out of that part is pointless I might add. My life is a living hell and any alternative to living s’s a freak is highly preferable. I have spoken to a gender therapist already and they didn’t help. Just told me I should try and be a happy freak. 150$ a session and im never going back. So that is out of the question as well.

Sign me, Depressed in Detroit

Dear Depressed, What you are feeling is awful, but it is not unusual for someone who has Gender Dysphoria. Your body presents are one sex, and your brain identifies as the other. There is a disconnect that can be helped. You have the choice to accept this is your unique self and try to figure out what will make your life more livable and happier. Perhaps you will decide to take hormones, or alter your body to reflect physically what you experience psychologically. The other option is to not accept this unique self and be miserable. Suicide is an option that many people have taken when they don’t see a way to be who they feel they are on the inside. But getting some good, professional help would be worth checking out. Go back to the therapist you tried. Figure out what you mean and need to “fix yourself” and see if that is what the therapist can help you with. If fixing yourself does not include self acceptance but is only seeing yourself as a freak, then take a look at these pictures of women who are transgendered. Notice that they work in all sorts of professions and they have all sorts of ways of expressing who they feel they are on the inside. Not one looks like a “freak” to me! http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TSsuccesses/TSgallery1.html

If you really want to educate yourself about being transgender, also known as transsexual, please check out this website. http://forum.beginninglifeforums.com/ind. It is difficult when you are in such pain to realize that you can have a new and better life. It’s a struggle to come to terms with accepting who you are, but there are lots of examples out there of men who realized they really are a woman inside. The most recent one I know of is Bradley Manning, the US Army soldier convicted in July 2013 of violating the Espionage Act and 22 other charges after releasing a large set of restricted documents. He was exploring gender dysphoria as early as 2009 and in 2010 emailed his supervisor that he had gender identity disorder. The day after sentencing, August 22, 2013, Manning’s attorney issued a press release that Bradley identifies as female and request that the media refer to her by her new name and feminine pronouns. There couldn’t be a more public way to come out, but Chelsea Elizabeth Manning had been through it all, and in moving forward with her life, it meant accepting guilt for the charges, but also accepting her identity. She said: “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt from childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that , starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.”

It’s hard to imagine a more charged and public environment in which to transition from male to female, but when you finally face your own truth, there is such relief at finally being at peace with yourself, it makes it worthwhile. IF you don’t want to go back to the same therapist, make a clean, new start and find another therapist who is qualified to work with Gender Identity Disorder and Gender Dysphoria. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about the therapists approach to working with these issues. Good luck to you, and write me again, to let me know how you’re doing. Christine Cantrell

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Befuddled in Brownstown

  • Posted on February 19, 2018 at 10:08 am

Dear Christine

Hello! Is there such a thing as having an androgynous personality? Explain please 🙂 Thank yoooouu! Befuddled in Brownstown

Dear Befuddled,

Yes, there are androgynous people. I know a few people who are androgynous and like passing as both genders or neither. If you look at one of these people, you might not be sure what pronoun to use, she or he, and the person may not help you out on that, as they might like the fact that they don’t fit into any prescribed slot. Sexuality is simpler than a dual system of gay and straight, just as gender is more than male or female. We have brains as well as bodies, and sometimes the experience of the mind is different from the body, and vice versa. Sometimes the bodies are difficult to identify, as an intersex person may have genitalia of both genders. There are seven basic gender identities: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, intersexual, asexual, and pansexual, then there is a sexual orientation for each one.

Sometimes people are chimeras, meaning they have more than one genetic code, such as when 2 fraternal twin fetuses combine in the uterus and become one body, but having 2 unique DNA codes, depending on which body part is being checked. There have been women who were genetically unrelated to their children as current cheek swab DNA testing can show. However, other organs or parts of her body do match up with her children, but might not have been checked initially. Also, any woman who has been pregnant has probably absorbed some genetic material from her baby, and if that’s a boy, then she probably has some Y chromosomes present in her body that most women would not have. Remember, female is having XX chromosomes and male is XY. Sometimes there are XXY people as well, which is Klinefelter Syndrome. Our genes and our environment determine our phenotype (physical characteristics) which can vary in different environments. Two identical twins raised in different families may mature differently, for example. All of this is just to explore how we really are unique beings. However you look, whatever you feel, whomever you are attracted to, or not, is really ok. And it can change. And that’s fine. Christine Cantrell

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Perplexed in Pittsfield

  • Posted on February 12, 2018 at 7:00 am

Dear Christine

Could someone be completely gay from 13 to 18? so I mean always liking the same sex and not liking the other sex, and only getting turned on by the same sex, and have done things like anal and liked it… then at 19 onwards turn straight and not like the same sex and just get turned on by the opposite sex? can that happen because of hormones? so is there such a thing called the gay phase between. 13 to 18?

Perplexed in Pittsfield

Dear Perplexed,

The really interesting thing with human beings is that there is no “normal” nor only “one way” that someone can and should be. We are each unique beings, and we experience our sexuality differently, and that means there’s no one mode of self–expression is “right” or “wrong.” What someone else may do might not seem interesting or remotely possible for you, and that’s ok too. There are people who experiment with their sexual attractions in ways you may never choose to. A friend of mine was a radical feminist lesbian in the 70s and 80s. She used to organize Take Back the Night walks in the community we lived in back then. In the 90s she met a man and fell in love with him. They married and had 2 children and they are still together. Go figure! Some people go both ways, others only go one way at a time, and some find their own way to be. So, remember, just because a friend does something, don’t assume that’s how it is for you or for anyone else. That’s how that person is. You may feel one way today, and in a decade you may feel totally different. Or not.

Life is a journey of self–exploration. As much as I thought I knew myself in my early 20s, my early 30s taught me that I had pushed away a lot of parts of myself that I hadn’t been ready to confront, and for me, one of those things was my sexuality. I dated only men in my teens and 20s, but in my early 30s, I was falling in love with women and wondering how this could be. It took a few more years of looking inward, noticing my feelings and my patterns, some of which I had ignored for years because they weren’t acceptable in my family and in my church. Could all this change again? I guess it could, because at 40, I was amazed at how much the same I was as at 20, and yet how entirely different too! I am guessing 80 holds surprises for my self–awareness and identity as well. I’m content to live my life until then, exploring whatever comes up, not judging it, but just looking at and allowing it to be. Let it be. Christine Cantrell

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Confused in Canton

  • Posted on January 28, 2018 at 11:46 am

Dear Christine, My wife and I entered into a 3 way relationship with a lesbian questioning woman about a year ago. To be clear, it’s never all 3 of us at once. We pair off based on a mutual schedule we agreed upon. I had reservations about it, fearing it might threaten the most important relationship to me, that of myself and my wife. Being the carefree and sexually open person that I am though, I agreed. Much to my surprise, I have fallen totally in love with our 3rd and no longer have feelings for my wife. I don’t know what to do. Part of me wants to confess my feelings to our 3rd and see if she feels the same, in which case I would like it to be just us. The other side of me is telling me to end this 3 way relationship and try and save my marriage. My wife is someone who I know loves me, and this new person could be a risky move if I decide to pursue her. I know I can’t continue this way for much longer. What advice can you offer to this very confused person? Signed, Confused in…

Dear Christine, Intoxicated in Inkster

  • Posted on January 22, 2018 at 10:35 am

Dear Christine,

I’m really worried about my boyfriend. We’ve been dating for about 6 months and he has recently taken a part time job at night working as a bar tender at a local gay men’s bar in Detroit. He’s loving it but my problem is, he comes home intoxicated the 3 nights of the week that he works. I said something to him but his response was that he’s never had a drinking problem, which is true, so why am I concerned? Maybe I’m wrong but having too much to drink, 3 nights a week, to the point of being clearly drunk, is too much. I also worry that he will get pulled over one night and get a DUI.

I really like him a lot but this could be a deal breaker. Do you think I’m being overly concerned? To be honest, I also worry that he will meet someone else hanging out with all the single men at the bar.

Thanks, Intoxicated in Inkster

Dear Intoxicated in Inkster,

Your questions are on target and you have good reason to be concerned. When you date someone, there are boundaries to what we each can tolerate or boundaries keeping out certain behaviors or choices that we cannot live with. Since you have spent 6 months in this relationship, you have invested quite a bit of yourself, and I hope you have had conversations over time with your boyfriend about your limits, and his boundaries with you.

I’m not sure that the intoxication issue, either the amount or frequency, was ever addressed in your relationship before your boyfriend took this bar tending job, and if not, it needs to be discussed fully and honestly now. If his being drunk three times a week is a deal breaker for you, then so be it. Boundaries aren’t about right and wrong. He may be completely fine with his level of drinking and frequency, and that’s fine. Only it’s not fine in a relationship with you! Once you identify these non–negotiables, telling each other them is crucial. Only then can you both make clear decisions about whether or not to continue the relationship. You don’t have to agree with each other about issues, but you do have to respect each other’s position in order to make the relationship work. I’ve never dated anyone who smokes, though I have plenty of friends who smoke. It’s not that smokers make bad dates or lovers, but I don’t want to put myself in harms’ way by dating a smoker casually. What happens if we fall in love? And smoking is one of my non–negotiables? Now what?! Do I make quitting a pre–condition of moving in? When dealing with addictive materials, it’s best if the user decides to quit for himself or herself, not for their boyfriend or girlfriend. If your boyfriend quits this behavior because you are pushing him to do so, it will probably lead to resentment and the relationship will start to disintegrate. If he agrees that his drinking is a problem to him, then he will have to decide to quit and maintain his sobriety, and that’s something no one else can decide or do for him.

Good luck with the conversations ahead. Sounds like some honesty needs to come out, both ways, as you are unhappy, and it doesn’t sound like you trust him in the bars with other men, or alcohol. Once you know each other’s non–negotiables, it’s much clearer what your next action step needs to be. It’s still emotionally hard, but at least you know you are not settling for someone who is not compatible with you.

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888

Click here to email Christine.

Dear Christine, Angry in Ann Arbor

  • Posted on December 24, 2017 at 9:22 am

Dear Christine

About two months ago my partner went to First Wednesday (at Rosie O’Donnell Bar) with some friends. I couldn’t go because I had to work late. Anyhow, the group met a new young woman who is just coming out as a lesbian. After getting to know this person, the friends and I are seeing something just a bit off about her. My partner, however, has taken quite a shine to her. I think it’s a crush even though this person is 18 years younger than her. I’ve told my partner that I am not happy about it and she says I’m wrong about the crush and she just sees someone who needs her help. There has been quite a bit of communication between them and I’m angry. Do I sit quietly and let this play out? Do I have a choice? We’ve had some heated arguments about this with no resolution. Just when things seemed so great!

Thanks, Angry in Ann Arbor

Dear Angry, Many couples I work with never really have a complete conversation about what the boundaries are in their relationship. They might agree if one of them “cheated” that the relationship would be over. But rarely is “cheated” defined clearly. They might also agree if one “hits” the other, it’s over. But what level of abuse is intolerable?

Women have close emotional relationships with friends and that can lead to “emotional cheating” which may not involve any physical or sexual contact, but can lead to a sense of violation for the partner (you). In this day of social media, people can have long distance affairs through text, FB, DM, Snapchat, etc, etc and never be in the same state! And long term relationships have suffered and even ended from such “emotional cheating.”

Your partner may be in denial about her crush and has reframed the interaction as helping her friend. You can’t “make” her see the emotional violation. You can keep flagging it and discussing boundaries and what consequences follow. You may not have included this sort of behavior as being a violation of your couple’s boundaries, but you can now. And then you need to let her know this is your new non–negotiable. And tell her the consequence of crossing a non–negotiable. And let her decide whether or not she agrees. Worst comes to worst, you may end up ending your relationship over this, if you two cannot see eye–to–eye about what is a boundary and what is a violation. I worked with a couple of lesbians together 20 years, who always agreed that if either one was going to cheat, they would respect the other enough to call and tell that one “I’m not coming home tonight.” One saw her partner fall in love with a younger woman at work over 3 months time. She tried to talk to her partner about it and was rebuffed. Then that call came one evening. The partner left at home was done and made it clear that their relationship was over. After a month, the other partner came to her senses and asked to get into therapy to repair their 20 year relationship. They came to a couple of sessions, but the one used therapy to be clear with the other that a non–negotiable was violated and their relationship was over. They sold their house and went their separate ways.

Another couple would stay in therapy and try to figure out where their relationship went south and mend the issues that allowed for one to become emotionally involved with someone outside the relationship. So, you need to do what is in integrity to you. Suggest neutral support, like a therapist, to help you two communicate with each other through this. Schedule time together as a couple in which you can talk seriously, but also time to have fun, too.

Christine C Cantrell, PhD
Licensed Psychologist