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Jun 20, 2022

The Practicalities of Mental Health and Gender Affirming Care for Trans Youth: An Interview with Jordan Held, LCSW

Curt and Katie interview Jordan Held, LCSW, about gender affirming care, trans mental health, the practicalities of transition (as well as the different types of transition), specifics when working with trans youth, and the politicization of trans folks. We also explore culture and privilege related to transition.

Transcripts for this episode will be available at!

An Interview with Jordan Held, LCSW

Jordan Held (he/him/his), LCSW is a Primary Therapist and Gender Specialist at Visions Adolescent Treatment Center. Prior to Visions, Jordan was a Therapist and Intake Coordinator at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in the Center for Trans Youth Health and Development, the largest trans youth health clinic in the USA.

Jordan’s mental health practice centers around creating a trauma-informed and healing-centered space for both adolescents and their families. Jordan’s expertise is working with gender and sexual minority youth with complex histories of PTSD and trauma. Jordan speaks internationally about creating and supporting affirmative LGBTQ+ environments with an emphasis on informed consent and enhanced family communication. As a queer-identified, transgender man, Jordan brings an important dual perspective to his work as a mental health provider.

Prior to social work, Jordan worked extensively in secondary school education, with a decade of experience teaching, coaching, and developing health and wellness curricula. Jordan’s work focuses on gender violence prevention, diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultivating strength and belonging for teens. Jordan is on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Laurel Foundation, JQ International, and Mental Health America of Los Angeles. Jordan is also a long-time facilitator at Transforming Family, a support group for gender-diverse youth and their family.

Jordan holds a Master of Social Welfare degree from UCLA, a Master of Sports Leadership degree from Northeastern University, and a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Connecticut. Jordan is an avid sneakerhead who self-cares by lifting heavy weights, going to the beach, loving his rescue dog, and embracing his gender euphoria!


In this podcast episode, we talk about trans mental health

For Pride Month, we wanted to deepen our conversation on trans mental health and what therapists should know when working with trans individuals.

What is gender-affirmative care?

“Trans people are being used as political pawns.” – Jordan Held, LCSW

  • The way that “gender affirming care” is being taken out of context
  • What is actually happening, how it has been politicized
  • The misinformation related to what is available to children who are exploring their gender (i.e., parental consent and youth care)
  • The role of therapists versus the role of medical providers
  • Discussion of gender norms

Different types of transition for trans individuals

  • Social transition (name, pronouns, clothes, haircut)
  • Medical interventions that may start during puberty (i.e., puberty blockers, progesterone only birth control)
  • Cross sex hormones and surgeries (which actually require a long process)
  • States are very specific for what they require for gender care (as do insurance companies)

Conversations in therapy for trans youth

  • Gender journey
  • Meeting the kids where they’re at
  • Lying to get what they need
  • Letters and recommendations for surgery
  • The gender dysphoria diagnosis and sorting that out from depression, anxiety, etc.
  • Supporting trans youth with social transition and getting the support they need
  • The concerns with maladaptive coping skills available online
  • Positive resources for trans youth (scroll down to resources)
  • Identity and impacts

The Politicization of Trans Individuals

“Shame on us as adults that we are so scared, we have so much fear over – let’s be honest – what’s in someone's pants, right? All of this has to do with the fear of something that we don't know. This fear… that somebody's genitals do not align what we think is in their pants. And as an adult talking to another adult, that's kind of gross, right? Like, why as adults do we care so much about what is in a kid's pants?” – Jordan Held, LCSW

  • Jordan grew in privilege when he transitioned
  • Legislation
  • Schools removing conversations related to gender and sexuality
  • Play and sports being withheld from trans kids
  • Bias and how being trans is perceived
  • The actual numbers of trans folks who want to play sports or want to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity
  • Advice for trans kids and families where gender care is illegal, advice for therapists
  • Age limits and laws that don’t align with logic

Culture, privilege, and being trans

  • Increasing or decreasing privilege when one transitions
  • Getting used to the changed dynamic within society based on external experience
  • The complexity of the experience and the changing of the experience
  • The concept of “passing” and how it taps into bias


Our Generous Sponsors for this episode of the Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide:

GreenOak Accounting

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If you’re interested in scheduling a complimentary consultation, please visit their website at to learn more.


Thrizer is a new modern billing platform for therapists that was built on the belief that therapy should be accessible AND clinicians should earn what they are worth. Their platform automatically gets clients reimbursed by their insurance after every session. Just by billing your clients through Thrizer, you can potentially save them hundreds every month, with no extra work on your end. Every time you bill a client through Thrizer, an insurance claim is automatically generated and sent directly to the client's insurance. From there, Thrizer provides concierge support to ensure clients get their reimbursement quickly, directly into their bank account. By eliminating reimbursement by check, confusion around benefits, and obscurity with reimbursement status, they allow your clients to focus on what actually matters rather than worrying about their money. It is very quick to get set up and it works great in completement with EHR systems. Their team is super helpful and responsive, and the founder is actually a long-time therapy client who grew frustrated with his reimbursement times The best part is you don't need to give up your rate. They charge a standard 3% payment processing fee!

Thrizer lets you become more accessible while remaining in complete control of your practice. A better experience for your clients during therapy means higher retention. Money won't be the reason they quit on therapy. Sign up using if you want to test Thrizer completely risk free! Sign up for Thrizer with code 'moderntherapists' for 1 month of no credit card fees or payment processing fees! That’s right - you will get one month of no payment processing fees, meaning you earn 100% of your cash rate during that time.


Resources for Modern Therapists mentioned in this Podcast Episode:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below may be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Visions Adolescent Treatment Center

Jordan Held’s Website

Jordan on Instagram

WPATH Standards of Care


Online support and communities for trans youth:


The Trevor Project (helpline, suicidality)

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) – Trans Resources

HRC – LGBTQ+ Youth


Flamingo Rampant (publisher focusing on diversity, including gender diversity)

Disclosure (Documentary)

Google local universities in state – they often have support groups




Relevant Episodes of MTSG Podcast:

Working with Trans Clients: Trans Resilience and Gender Euphoria – an interview with Beck Gee-Cohen

Vulnerability, The News, and Your Clients: An interview with Dr. Abigail Weissman

Additional episodes for Pride Month:

Bi+ Erasure: An interview with Dr. Mimi Hoang, PhD

Getting Personal to Advocate for Compassion, Understanding, and Social Justice: An interview with James Guay, LMFT


Who we are:

Curt Widhalm, LMFT

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University and CSUN, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, former CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making "dad jokes" and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Katie Vernoy, LMFT

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also a former President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt's youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch with Curt, Katie, and the whole Therapy Reimagined #TherapyMovement:


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Consultation services with Curt Widhalm or Katie Vernoy:

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Connect with the Modern Therapist Community:

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Modern Therapist’s Survival Guide Creative Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano