Queer & Trans Affirming Therapy in Santa Rosa

The first day of 10th grade I dressed head-to-toe in black: fishnets, combat boots, black fingernail polish… you get the idea. I was the only guy I knew who had both ears pierced and I wore mismatched dangly earrings — a dead giveaway to everyone that I was queer.

In addition to my crimes against fashion, I didn’t identify with typical boys’ interests like sports, competition, locker room humor, or macho posturing. I looked at my peers and felt clueless, but I hadn’t yet connected my outsider status to queerness (or neurodivergence).

I thought of myself as androgynous: I identified as much or more with feminine qualities than masculine. Though I hadn’t been exposed to non-binary or trans identities until adulthood, I certainly didn’t identify with the culture of masculinity.

Growing up in 1990s Reno, there wasn’t much awareness or support around queer identities. My family was open-minded with gay and lesbian friends, so I felt connected to queer people. But public high school enforced strict conformity. I was bullied for being a weirdo outsider, and the administration blamed me for “not trying to fit in” instead of ensuring my safety.

As an adult living abroad and later working corporate jobs, I still stuck out as an oddball. But I gradually adapted to society’s heteronormative expectations for a cis man, finding it easier to navigate the world when I presented what other people expected. In retrospect I realize I was “masking”, but it wasn’t until years later that I realized how much I had internalized heteronormativity (and neurotypical behavior).

Studying counseling psychology exposed me to the Sexual Identity Profile (SIP), helping me understand queerness as multidimensional. The SIP identifies five identity continuums between homosexual and heterosexual orientations: erotic attraction (sex we’re attracted to), sexual beliefs (internalized views on what sexual identities and expressions are acceptable in society), public perception (how we present our gender and sexual identities to others), and non-erotic interactions (non-sexual relationships and physical contact); to these five, I add romantic (being emotionally intimate without sexual attraction).​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

I discovered that I could identify as androgynous or non-binary while presenting as cisgender, sexually attracted to women but biromantic (having had romantic but non-sexual relationships with multiple genders), my apparent heterosexuality is trumped with sexual behaviors of demisexual (I feel sexual attraction in conjunction with emotional connection) and sometimes pansexual (sexually attracted to someone regardless of their gender) and sometimes asexual (going years without having a sexual partner or interaction). I finally put words to a nebulous collection of feelings and behaviors, and that clarity was empowering.

My whole life I haven’t felt like I belong in hetero-masculine culture, but in queer spaces I’ve felt like an imposter — that I’m not gay or trans “enough”. I worry that I’m perpetuating cultural appropriation by identifying as queer when the privilege that comes from my cis-hetero white masculine presentation allows me to navigate society with relative ease.

I’m still struggling to come out as non-binary: it feels true internally but is socially complicated to express. I don’t want to draw attention to myself by requesting they/them pronouns, even though I think it’s important. When people are thoughtful enough to ask my pronouns, I still sometimes freeze, not sure if I should take the easy route of using he/him pronouns or asking them to use they/them.

So I understand a bit of the complexity of navigating sexual and gender identity, that it’s sometimes safe to be out and often not, and that it’s a process of exploration and experimentation. As a counselor, I love supporting others who are also on a journey of being queer in a heteronormative world. Whether firmly established in your identity or still exploring, I’m here for your process.

That’s why I offer queer & trans affirming therapy in Santa Rosa and throughout California via telehealth! Take the first step by scheduling a free consultation to see if we’re a good fit.

For those looking for the fine print: I’m trained in the WPATH standards for transgender health care, I support the informed consent model (not gatekeeping), and can provide letters supporting gender-affirming medical treatment.


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