top of page

Gender Exploratory Therapy (GET)

In response to activists attempting to frame exploratory therapy as “conversion therapy”

Firstly, the conflation of exploratory therapy and conversion therapy has no basis in evidence. The assertion is emotional, subjective, and employs data about the impact of conversion efforts to change homosexuals, not Gender Dysphoria. Conversion efforts for sexual orientation are rooted in moral objections to same-sex attraction and the historical belief that homosexuality is a mental illness. We do not support conversion efforts.

This contrasts with Gender Dysphoria (GD), which is classified as a psychological condition and has multiple developmental pathways. GD, previously called Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and evolving into names like Gender Incongruence, isn’t a single thing. There are at least three well studied types and additional types have been hypothesized. Much more is understood now than was in previous decades. Clinical thinking, from a developmental psychology perspective, has shifted along with this understanding. Gender Exploratory Therapy means psychotherapy, which not rooted in any moral objection to the client’s experience and aims to help clients understand their experience from a psychological perspective. It guides through a self-discovery process, which is not coercive or for the purpose of any specific outcome.

Historically, some clinicians saw gender nonconforming (GNC) behaviour as a symptom of GD and so would advise actions to limit those behaviours. In more recent years, research has been informative about the ways in which GNC is related to sexual orientation, not GD. For example, Dr Paul Vasey, a Canadian researcher who studies homosexuality in cultures which do not suppress gay GNC, noted that in such cultures, gender-related distress is almost non-existent. He concluded that GD in Children should be removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), since even extreme GNC behaviour in children is most often a harmless, organic, developmental aspect of homosexuality, and that distress (GD) is most often the product of an environment hostile to that process. Given this evidence, it is now seen as counter-productive for a clinician to align oneself with an environment that may be contributing to the development of a distress disorder in a GNC child.

In light of research developments like these, one consideration a gender exploratory therapist might make when working with a child with gender distress is to explore the family and community structures in which the child is living, aiming to better support the GNC of the child in healthy, developmentally appropriate ways. This is an important departure from the “take the dolls away” approach seen historically. It’s also an important departure from hastily labelling that child “trans” and seeing medical interventions as the only solution to distress.

We’d like to assert that clinical thinking pertaining to any area of clinical practice evolves as it’s informed by new evidence. How things were done historically, if later proven to be erroneous, should be seen as a part of the natural evolution of clinical practice, not indicative of character failures or lack of trustworthiness of the profession as a whole.

We believe the mischaracterization of Gender Exploratory Therapy as something harmful or suspicious is based largely on unnecessary fears that GET is a rebranding of outdated practices. Please be assured that this is not the case. As seen in the UK over this past year, the same clinicians who called for reform in gender care practices are those who advocate for Gender Exploratory Therapy and, as many trans activists themselves have admitted, the UK is improving access and support, not eliminating care as a result of those efforts.

Activist overreach that’s forcing the psychotherapeutic professions, along with their evidence-based understanding of Gender Dysphoria/incongruence and sexual orientation, out of our system has created unsafe, incompetent, unethical care. It’s led to an increase in medical harm; And a decrease in meaningful help and understanding of our experiences. It’s led to minimal psychological and social support for patients, and a mass over-medicalization and commodification of natural human diversity. It has also contributed to public misconceptions about GNC and Gender Dysphoria, which directly impacts our quality of life.

There is no boogey-man hiding behind Gender Exploratory Therapy.

For more information:

1,044 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page