What are Gender Support Services (GSS)?

University Counseling Services (UCS) offers a variety of specialized services to support the needs and experiences of transgender and gender-expansive students. If you are experiencing gender dysphoria, are seeking gender affirming procedures (such as hormone therapy or surgery) and need a support letter, or are wanting support in exploring your gender identity, we are here to help. 

What kind of help and support does UCS offer?  

  • Letters of support for medical transition procedures and services
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Trans advocacy
  • Consulting with friends, family members, or faculty who have questions
  • Identifying trans-affirming referrals and providers
  • Conducting outreach and education around campus

We are eager and interested in providing support in any of these areas!

How do I get started?

Just call UCS and let the front desk know you would like to meet with a GSS therapist. During your appointment, let the therapist know what kind of gender-related support you are looking for, and they will help connect you to the services that will best meet your needs.

Who will I work with?

At UCS, we have a team of gender support specialists who have a passion for and expertise in serving the unique needs of trans and gender expansive individuals. Our gender support specialists have special training and experience in the following areas:

  • Gender identity development and exploration
  • Social and medical transition
  • Support letters for gender-affirming medical services (e.g., hormone therapy, surgery)
  • Case management support for both general and transition-related insurance coverage concerns

What is the support letter process like? 

We know you are the expert of your experiences, needs, and body. Our support process is designed to empower you to make the decisions that are best for your wellbeing and ensure smooth referral to the gender-affirming care that is right for you. You will meet one-on-one with a therapist who will support you in your unique gender transition needs. 

You and your therapist will work to help you meet readiness and eligibility requirements for your particular gender-affirming treatment or procedure based on the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care. Eligibility criteria for hormone therapy include:

  • Age of majority (typically 18 in the US) 
  • Persistent, well-documented gender dysphoria
  • Capacity to make a fully informed decision and consent to treatment 
  • If significant medical or mental health conditions are present, they must be reasonably well-controlled 

Eligibility criteria for surgical procedures vary by specific type of surgery. Typically, the abovementioned criteria are included and sometimes may additionally include a specific period of time undergoing hormone treatment, a specific period of time spent living in a gender role congruent to the person's goals, and possibly two support letters from mental health providers.

Your therapist will go over these requirements in detail before and during the assessment process. 

How long will the process take?

The number of meetings required to complete an assessment and supply a support letter varies based on each individual student’s unique needs. Within the first two meetings, your therapist will make a recommendation regarding the length of assessment required, typically ranging from a few weeks to a few months. Because each individual’s situation is different, we cannot recommend a time frame in advance of meeting with your assigned therapist. The UCS operates from an informed consent approach to providing support letter assessments, and every care is taken to make the process as reasonably expedient as possible. 

Do I need to be in therapy to receive a support letter?

No. Trans and gender-expansive students are welcome to be in therapy and many students often find it helpful; however, this is not a requirement for receiving a gender affirmation support letter.

What if I have mental health concerns or thoughts of suicide? Will I be prevented from services?

No. We understand that mental health concerns are common in many marginalized groups and that suicidal thoughts are a common mental health symptom. We collaboratively address mental health concerns and address risk and safety concerns as needed. 

What if I am non-binary? Does that change anything?

No. We honor non-binary and other gender-expansive identities and will work to support your goals for medical transition. 

Are there any other helpful resources?

  • Individual therapy at the UCS
  • Group therapy at the UCS: 
    • Trans and Gender Expansive Identities Support Group
    • LGBTQIA+ Support Group
  • Referrals for long-term therapy in the community
  • Resource list including affirming medical providers, local merchants, and other service providers (e.g., hair stylists) in Eugene area

If you have any additional questions or would like to speak to one of the co-chairs of the gender support specialist team, their contact information is listed below. You may also call the UCS front desk at 541-346-3227.

 

 
Chris Michaels, PhD
Senior Staff Psychologist (he/him)