When A Therapist Says: ‘You’re Not Bi, You’re Just Dramatic.’
LGBTQ are at a higher risk for suicide attempts, probably due to the discrimination, stigma, and lack of safety many of them experience, even in 2019. Those who do not have direct access to LGBTQ mentors, who believe they are alone, are even more at risk. Therapists have a chance to help LGTBQ youth through a difficult and important time, but so often we hear stories about therapists who do not affirm and validate their queer/trans/nonbinary clients.
Toby came out as bi when she was around 12. “It was not common to be out then,” Toby said. “We’re talking like, 1999.”
She was sent to a therapeutic boarding school in “super southern” Virginia where the “therapy” she received was conservative and hostile to LGBTQ students’ identities.
“My parents had good intentions,” Toby explained. “But the school was terrible at dealing with its LGBTQ students. I was told by therapists that I was dramatic, that my bisexuality was an experiment or ‘just a phase.’” Toby wasn’t the only one who experienced this kind of treatment. The school forced her friend Ariel, who was a trans girl, to live in the guys’ dorms.
“The school thankfully doesn’t exist anymore, but there are still a whole bunch of similar schools all over the country who are doing this. Healthcare providers –no matter where they are – should treat people like they’d want to be treated,” Toby said. “They should try to understand people the way they’d like to be understood. Everything about a person’s identity is valid.”
This is why #WeNeedAButton for providers all over the country and in all types of settings.
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