by Sidsel Sofie Poulsen, LGBT+ Danmark
In July, Denmark got its first accredited LGBTI+ counseling, when LGBT+ Denmark’s counseling in Copenhagen received a big approval of quality from RådgivningsDanmark (Eng: Counseling Denmark). One of the users of the counseling says: “You feel very welcome there, even though you are so vulnerable.”
Every Thursday at 18-20 o’clock, LGBT+ Denmark’s counseling is open. Here LGBTI+ people and their loved ones can either show up at the NGO’s offices in Aarhus or Copenhagen, call, send an email or chat online with the counselors about anything, they might be struggling with. That has been an option for several years, but in July 2020 the counseling became accredited and fulfills the requirements for counseling offers set by the branch organization RådgivingsDanmark. Therefore, it is now documented that the counseling is high quality. The LGBT+ Denmark counseling deals with all kinds of questions about gender, sexuality and body and therefore has a specific audience.
”Many people think that in 2020’s Denmark it isn’t particularly troublesome to break the norms surrounding gender, gender expression and sexuality. It’s an understanding that we in the counseling also find in the users, who therefore can find it very individualizing and double shameful that they or their family members’ gender identity or sexuality is causing them difficulties.” That is how Julie Breinegaard, who coordinated the process behind the accreditation from LGBT+ Denmark’s side, describes one of the reasons counseling specifically for LGBTI+ people is still important.
If you are a prospective family, parent of a transgender child, or something third, you can get regular and legal counsel in navigating the jungle of Danish laws regarding LGBTI+ people’s rights. There is also room for questions about breaking the social norms as a family and how you can best support and help each other with staying true to yourselves.
A unique counseling with a specific target audience – and room for family related questions
One of the reasons that a specific LGBTI+ counseling space is important is also that the target users can experience barriers when seeking help with other concerns, as they can be nervous about how they will be met as an LGBTI+ person, tells Julie Breinegaard. “We work norm critically in the counseling. That means we can support people in turning the feeling of them being wrong into talking about what norms are making them ask themselves these questions.” Julie continues: “We can also tell them that they are not alone, because we have spoken with many others in the exact same situation. That can be a huge relief.”
In the accreditation, RådgivningsDanmark has assessed LGBT+ Denmark’s counseling in Copenhagen on a number of parameters, which secures that the counseling has a high standard and that the counseling’s users can feel safe in knowing that laws and ethical guidelines are being respected. In the accreditation, there was a focus on the teaching of new counselors, and that the counselors use their own experiences as LGBTI+ people while still remaining professional and accommodating the individual user’s needs. Since both the users and RådgivningsDanmark are satisfied with the way the counseling is carried out, it signifies that the offer is working as intended.
Counseling for families with transgender children or on their journey to their own family
Julie Breinegaard explains that it changes over time which areas the users need to talk about: “The volunteering counselors have in the later years experienced a rise in the number of users wanting to talk about the trans-area, where the counselors can assist with conversations about identity and relations, and counseling in the different possibilities regarding the medical area, as well as legal matters.”
The counseling has also seen a rise in parents to children who don’t identify as their assigned gender or in some other way break with the norms regarding gender and gender expression. One of the things they seek advice for, is how they as a family can support their children in being who they are and how they should handle the reactions from the rest of the world.
Julie also explains that: ”We get a lot of questions regarding family laws, for example marriage, second-parent adoption and rainbow families in different versions, all which our attorneys help them with.” This means that LGBTI+ people in the counseling, aside from getting help with their personal struggles with breaking the norms, also can get help to navigate within the laws when two become three or four become five.
The future brings more accreditation of more counseling offers
It has been a big project to get the counseling in Copenhagen accredited, with having all parts of the work approved for quality and documented. Julie Breinegaard points out, that the association want to use their experiences to also get LGBT+ Denmark’s counseling in Aarhus accredited in cooperation with the volunteer counselors there. At the same time, they are working to establish new offers of counseling in regions that are lacking. In other words: it doesn’t look like there will be lower quality or less offers for LGBTI+ people in the future, in fact it’s the opposite.
Information about the counseling
LGBT+ Denmark’s counseling offer confidential counseling for LGBTI+ people and others in need of counseling about sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, including legal matters for LGBTI+ people. The team of counselors consist of around 10 people, all working as volunteers.
It is open every Thursday between 18-20 and you can call their phones, email, chat online or show up in person at LGBT+ Denmark’s offices in Aarhus or Copenhagen.
Vester Allé 8a 3. Sal, 8000 Århus C
Tlf. 86 13 19 48 / 22 30 19 48
Vestergade 18E, 4. sal, 1456 København K
Tlf. 33 13 19 48