This critical qualitative study centers the counselling experiences, needs and desires of eight people with gender identities outside the binary. Thematic analysis of firsthand accounts shows a skeptical yet savvy engagement with the mental health establishment, beset by the spectre of stigma and by a lack of basic competency on the part of many counsellors that participants can access. Participants ask for more oversight for safety and aptitude in the field and for programs to better prepare therapists to meaningfully engage, not only with queer and trans people and subcultures, but with clients from structurally marginalized social locations more broadly. Reports from participants highlight major access inequities, particularly around cost and crisis care and they question norms around mental health and its service provision. This thesis is guided by and grounded in Spade's framework of the three modes of transphobia (2011), those that occur with regard to: perpetrator/victim practices, disciplinary norms, and population-management. Findings can guide practitioners, trainee supervisors and policy makers in providing more accessible, appropriate, and effective care.
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Thesis advisor: Jordan, Sharalyn
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