In accordance with Standards of Care established by WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health), Women’s Health requires transgender patients seeking hormone therapy to bring in a referral letter from a qualified mental health provider. This requirement is not meant to imply that you are mentally ill, but is to help us give you the best possible outcome to your treatment. Here is the reasoning:
The process of gender confirmation is a multidisciplinary treatment. It requires five processes: diagnostic assessment, psychotherapy or counseling, real-life experience, hormone therapy, and surgical therapy. Taking part in each process and having the professionals responsible for each part communicate with each other will maximize the chances of a successful outcome for you.
A “qualified mental health professional” is one with competence not only in mental health, but also specifically with gender nonconforming identities and using Standards of Care from WPATH.
Gender dysphoria is complicated. It can sometimes be accompanied by psychological or psychiatric problems. It is important to have an evaluation by an expert to: 1) make sure that gender dysphoria is the correct diagnosis (because other conditions can have similar features); 2) check for any other psychiatric conditions that might confuse the picture; and 3) start treating those other conditions if they exist. Without this evaluation, hormonal treatment may not work as well for you. These evaluations are best done by a qualified mental health professional, which is why the Standards of Care guidelines for sex reassignment by WPATH recommend this.
For patients planning gender confirmation, meeting with a mental health provider can also help inform them about the possibilities and limitations of gender confirmation surgery and other kinds of treatment in order to prevent unrealistically high expectations. The mental health provider can also help patients be prepared for and cope with the life changes (social and emotional) that will come with gender confirmation.
If you need a referral to a qualified mental health provider, please call the clinic at 303-442-5160.