Reflection by Saskia Lilienfeld (She/her)

"I started an exciting journey earlier this year when I launched my private speech therapy practice in Cape Town. I knew that I wanted the main focus of my practice to be gender affirming speech therapy, but what I didn’t realise was how much learning about gender affirming care and preparing myself to work with the trans and nonbinary population would move me. I have always been a passionate ally, and when I became aware of what a shortage there was of gender affirming clinicians, and even more so, gender affirming speech therapists, I knew I wanted to help fill this gap with my new practice.

When I graduated from university in 2011, the Speech Therapy curriculum didn’t include anything about gender affirming voice and communication therapy. This meant that to be adequately prepared to provide an excellent service, I had a lot of learning to do. I was extremely lucky to have fantastic guidance from a friend and old lecturer of mine, who could point me in the right direction and offer support and advice I think what surprised me the most in the process is how much I learnt about myself - reflecting on my life and realising how even as someone who identified as a cis woman how oppressive the binary gender system has been for me. I have realised that some things I have really struggled with, especially as a child, were rooted in my own gender dysphoria. Realising just how much of a spectrum gender is, including my own, has given me insights and have led me to understand myself so much better.

Things that didn’t make sense before make a lot more sense now. I am humbled and I am honoured to say that gender affirming voice and communication therapy has become my main speciality and focus. This is a movement that is one of the most important things I have come across, and I am so grateful to everyone who is a part of this community for creating awareness and dialogue and fighting so hard for equality in the face of so much resistance. I believe there is so much that the world can learn from the trans and non binary community."


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