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Breakout Session 1d

“Trans-Affirming Letter Writing: Best Practices and Challenges for Behavioral Health Providers” by L. Justin Wheeler, LISW-S & Michelle Pride, PhD

Justin obtained a Master of Social Work degree with a focus in clinical practice from Ohio University in 2009 after an internship in the Psychology and Social Work Clinic. Prior to this he was enrolled in a graduate theology program. Following graduation, Justin worked primarily with adolescents and adults in community-based, crisis, and private practice settings in Maryland and Ohio. Areas of clinical interest and experience include short-term/brief integrative treatment models, gender and sexuality, military families, managing chronic conditions, group work, Appalachian and rural culture, couples counseling, and compassion- and acceptance-focused behavioral therapies, especially dialectical behavior therapy.

Michelle completed her counseling psychology doctoral program at Michigan State University and a psychology internship at Colorado State University counseling center. Before coming to Ohio University she worked at the Louisiana Tech University counseling center. She is a multicultural, feminist therapist who has specialized in working in a university setting. Her interests and expertise include women’s issues, LGBTIQA issues, trans affirmative therapy, group therapy, trauma work, working with student athletes and students with identified learning disabilities and ADD/ADHD, peer mentoring, and clinical training and supervision. She has co-led the sexual assault survivor’s group since 2006. She worked as the group therapy coordinator for 4 years at CPS before becoming the training director.

Brief Description:

Ethical and practical dilemmas surround letter writing for gender affirmation surgeries, which can cause confusion for mental health professionals who want to support this population. In this brief workshop, we will review what is needed to create WPATH-consistent letters for clients and the role of mental health professionals in supporting clients through this process. Further, we will explore common barriers that arise in writing letters and the requirements for different types of procedures.



After this session, participants will have

  • Greater familiarity with the criteria for letters
  • Knowledge of the elements of a WPATH-consistent letter for surgery
  • Greater understanding of the role of the mental health professional in this process


Presentation Slides:

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