The Hijra community and the complex path to decolonising gender in Bangladesh

A really helpful article making some important distinctions about Hijra and Trans.

The need to understand gender as a spectrum must include non-Western identities and a move towards decolonising queerness. Ibtisam Ahmed explores the history of the Hijra community in Bangladesh.


Ways of exploring and experiencing queerness are extremely diverse, and this is being accepted by a growing number of people in recent years. It is an encouraging development but it still carries its pitfalls. One of the biggest challenges that is still being faced is a false equivalence of conceptualising all types of genders and sexualities through a strictly Western lens. In particular, there is often a misconception in cisgender activist circles of misunderstanding non-Western third gender identities.

In Bangladesh, the third gender identity is known as Hijra. The community is an indelible part of not only queer culture but of the national social fabric. Centuries before Bangladesh was even conceived as a modern nation state, and even before the…

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Pride in London and my Queer journey – a personal perspective and response to @LondonLGBTPride

A brave and open account of the intersectionality of identities and how we all have a responsibility to fight for true diversity and inclusion of the more marginalised in our communities.  How we white cisgender men need to recognise our privilege and make space for others.  So much respect for Edward Lord here in speaking his truth.

Source: Pride in London and my Queer journey – a personal perspective and response to @LondonLGBTPride

My journey as a gay man with depression

A helpful blog about the challenges of depression

Guest writer, Peter Minkoff, recounts his very personal journey with depression as part of our mental health month.


There was a time in my life when I absolutely loathed the word ‘depression’. Whenever someone is having a bad day, they nonchalantly throw around the phrase ‘I’m depressed’ – no, you’re not, you’re just having a sucky day. I felt so frustrated with people around me because they had no clue what real depression is. I, on the other hand, did. You’ve probably heard this story a thousand times, but no depression story is the same, and each and every person fighting depression is different, their experience is different. It took a lot of self-convincing for me to share my story, but I’m doing it because I truly hope that my voice will be heard and that some struggling gay person will take away something positive from it.

The beginning

Let me…

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Theraputic abuse and red flags

So much wisdom here.

Counselling in Northumberland

I have written a number of times on the need for better regulation of counselling and psychotherapy in the UK. Given our position, where anyone, regardless of qualifications can call themselves a coach, counsellor or psychotherapist, information is vital to allow clients to protect themselves. At a bare minimum clients need to know that a potential therapist is qualified, insured, and a member of a regulatory body. For me there is almost a protective desire to try to empower clients. I am reminded of how Carl Rogers (one of the founding giants of counselling) described the difference in power between therapist and client;  A client enters into the counselling relationship vulnerable and incongurent, and meets with the therapist, who is authentic and congruent. That vulnerability is a part of the process, but also easy for the unscrupulous to exploit.

It is with this in mind that the idea of…

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We expect, and need, better than this from the BACP

Very pleased to see a sane response to this ridiculous ethical dilemma. It my view, the dilemma is should Marna and her supervisor be in practice with such unexamined and sex negative beliefs.
If anyone wishes to read the original article here is a link:
http://www.bacp.co.uk/docs/pdf/15887_therapy-today-march-2017.pdf pages 20-21.

Counselling in Northumberland

The in-house journal of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy is Therapy Today. It is sent to every member of the organisation as well as being hosted online. The BACP have been quick to remind people that reading it counts as CPD, and so it seems safe to assume it promotes it’s beliefs, attitudes and outlook towards ethical practice.

It was therefore  worrying and disappointing to see featured an ethical dilemma around viewing pornography which seemed to be written with no knowledge or understanding or either sexuality or good therapeutic and supervisionary practices. It is difficult to create believable hypothetical scenarios, however, if it is done, it is important that they reflect not only best practice but the values and beliefs of the organisation.

The Dilemma (All people are imaginary)

Marna is a counsellor who rents a room from a larger counselling agency. Another room within the same building…

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Pink Therapy is changing!

As my plan to share the load for the running and development of the organisation, by creating a franchise where some of my colleagues would take on the administration of the face-to-face courses has stalled, I’m now moving ahead with other plans.

We will be winding down our face-to-face training programme after the current advertised workshops are complete.  So book now or miss your chance!

We will be continuing to run our two-year  Post Graduate Diploma in Gender, Sexuality and Relationship Diversity Therapy (GSRD) which is largely delivered online and we will be delivering online Continuing Professional Development to reach out to people unable to travel easily to London or who don’t have the time to commit to a full specialist vocational training. In fact our PG Diploma is close to having recruited a full cohort, with just a couple of places remaining.

One of the new projects is that I will be increasing the Clinical Associate team. 

Up until now the Clinical Associates team was a small group of highly experienced therapists based in London who met three times a year and were recruited to try and keep a balance in gender and theoretical model.  They got a privileged position on the website and paid an increased membership fee for being an associate (alongside their directory membership); they also got a discount on undertaking our training events and reduced conference fee. They became the faculty for our training workshops and courses and were a great think tank.

I am now seeking to recruit more Clinical Associates especially outside of London.  The organisation has been accused of being too London-centric and I think this is an opportunity to do something about that.  I am keen to demonstrate there are a wider range of GSRD-experienced therapists across the UK (and beyond).

Joining the new Associates team will be by invitation

Apologies in advance if you would like to take up this role but don’t receive an invitation yet. The criteria are largely that you are:
• accredited by us,
• have attended significant training with us,
• are faculty on our programmes
• have contributed to the field through publications, training etc.
I am also keen to ensure the majority are from outside of London and that we continue to reflect the diversity of GSRD identities.

The new Associates will be invited to attend an annual networking meeting and be expected to continue to commit to professional development in this rapidly changing area of work. There will also be a separate membership fee to reflect the elevated profile and provide some additional income for the organisation.

Dominic Davies
Founder and CEO
7 February 2017

UK organisations unite against Conversion Therapy

[My comments at the end of this statement]

Major UK healthcare organisations have united to write a statement firmly against Conversion Therapy. The following organisations have signed the statement:

  • The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
  • The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies
  • The British Psychoanalytic Council
  • The British Psychological Society
  • The College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists
  • GLADD – The Association of LGBT Doctors and Dentists
  • The National Counselling Society
  • National Health Service Scotland
  • Pink Therapy
  • The Royal College of General Practitioners
  • The Scottish Government
  • Stonewall
  • The UK Council for Psychotherapy.

Major UK organisations have been working against Conversion Therapy for a number of years, publishing a Memorandum of Understanding against the practice (2015) and updating the document to warn against conversion therapy in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation (including asexuality).

Aware of concerns regarding the future of Conversion Therapy in the USA, and pleased that Malta has banned the practice and that Taiwan has drafted legislation to ban the practice, we are publicising the following statement in solidarity with like- minded healthcare organisations in the USA.

“We the undersigned UK organisations wish to state that the practice of conversion therapy has no place in the modern world.  It is unethical and harmful and not supported by evidence.

Conversion Therapy is the term for therapy that assumes certain sexual orientations or gender identities are inferior to others, and seeks to change or suppress them on that basis.

Sexual orientations and gender identities are not mental health disorders, although exclusion, stigma and prejudice may precipitate mental health issues for any person subjected to these abuses. Anyone accessing therapeutic help should be able to do so without fear of judgement or the threat of being pressured to change a fundamental aspect of who they are.”

Janet Weisz, Chair of the Memorandum of Understanding group, and Chief Executive of the UK Council for Psychotherapy, said:
“We have always been clear that sexual orientation and gender identities are not mental health disorders. Any therapy that claims to change these is not only unethical but it’s also potentially harmful.

“Therefore, this practice has no place in the modern psychotherapy profession. The public must know that they can access therapeutic help without fear of judgment.

“It is great to see so many parts of the psychological and medical profession both in the UK and abroad uniting on this key issue.”

Helen Morgan, Chair of the British Psychoanalytic Council, said:
“Forcing a particular view or prejudice upon a patient has no place in therapy and all competent therapists will implicitly understand and appreciate this.

“Psychotherapy aims to liberate people so they can live fuller, more meaningful and more satisfying lives – and patients meeting a psychotherapist should be able to assume that this is always the case in therapy.

“I am pleased to support moves against conversion therapy and I would urge professional colleagues – wherever they may be – to do the same.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:
“The Royal College of General Practitioners is proud to support this statement. As medical professionals, we are highly trained to treat our patients regardless of their sexual orientation – not because of it.

“Being gay or trans is not a disease, it is not a mental illness and it doesn’t need a cure. Any proclamations to the contrary risk causing harm to our gay and trans patients’ physical and mental health and wellbeing, as well as perpetuating discrimination in society.”

Peter Kinderman, President of the British Psychological Society, said:
British Psychological Society is very proud to endorse, support, and stand by this statement. I am proud to live in a country that is able to celebrate the full range of loving human relationships and to offer each one of us equality under the law. Many of us have experienced a great deal of persecution and discrimination as a result of our sexual orientation, and our role must be to combat such prejudice, not to add to it. When people are distressed, for whatever reason, we have a duty to reach out and help. But that must not entail regarding our sexual orientation as any form of pathology. I am very happy to be a party to this statement, and I hope it goes some way to contribution to a more caring and equitable society.”

Dr Andrew Reeves, Chair of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, said:
“BACP strongly believes that anyone seeking therapeutic help, regardless of their gender and sexual diversity, should have access to unbiased and informed therapists who provide ethically skilled therapy. We agree that there is no place in our society for conversion therapy, which is unethical, harmful and not supported by evidence.”

I’m pleased we’ve managed to make this statement.  I’m saddened we’re not yet at the point of producing the more inclusive MoU2 but I do believe we’re not too far off it. There is a story there, but I’m not currently at liberty to discuss it! 

All too often those of us working with Gender Sexuality and Relationship Diverse (GSRD) clients hear about poor practice from other therapists.  Social Media and the consulting rooms of my colleagues who work a lot in this area is replete with the lived experience of GSRD people who have been encouraged by their therapists to assimilate into the heternormative, cisnormative majority rather than having their identities recognised and understood.

It seems that it’s still not acceptable in modern Britain to be bisexual, asexual or have a non-binary identity.  This is not good enough and I am pleased that there are people concerned about this issue to sit around a table and address it.  I have hopes that in the not too distant future, therapy training courses WILL be training therapists to know how to respond to clients who come from GSRD backgrounds.

Dominic Davies
16 January 2017