Every Wednesday The CSPH highlights a Sexuality Professional you should keep your eye on. Their backgrounds are very diverse in order to bring attention to the wide variety of amazing people working in the field. This week we bring you Shannon Sennott- our 50th Hump Day Hero!
1. What do you do in the field of sexuality?
I am an LGBTQ educator and a psychotherapist. I was clinically trained at the Smith School for Social Work and the Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society in New York City. I currently reside and practice in the Pioneer Valley, however, I lived in New York City for over a decade and during that time founded the advocacy and education organization, TRANSLATE GENDER, Inc. I utilize a transfeminist therapeutic approach in working with LGBTQ adolescents, individuals, and families. My interests extend to working with couples, polyamorous relationships, BDSM relationships, as well as, working with those in alternative family structures. My clinical orientation is influenced by transfeminist, narrative, and dialogic network traditions, and I have a broad range of expertise having completed clinical trainings in anxiety disorders, depressive and mood disorders, dual diagnosis, sexuality and gender identity concerns, grief and loss, and trauma. Currently, I work with couples at Northampton Sex Therapy Associates and I work with LGBTQ families at the Mill River Institute for Dialogic Practice.
I also work with Arlene Lev at TIGRIS (Training Institute for Gender, Relationships, Identity, and Sexuality), in Albany, NY, where I see individuals and couples, as well as, run a group for partners of trans and gender non-conforming people. The group is facilitated in a transfeminist and narrative tradition. I offer two longer half-day “retreats” over the course of the year; to give group members an opportunity to explore deeper identity related shifts in their communities, relationships, and personhood. Group members are encouraged to bring their trans partners to the retreats.
2. Where are you based out of?
I live in the country outside of Northampton, Ma. Translate Gender Inc. is based out of Northampton and most of my therapeutic work is also in and around that area. I travel to Albany, NY, Boston, MA, and NYC frequently for lectures, workshops, and conferences.
3. What is your focus? What do you do?
LGBTQ family therapy and community-based gender justice activism.
4. What are your particular goals and passions in the field?
See next question.
5. Why did you choose to work in this field?
I am a queer femme-identified woman. A transfeminist. An activist. A psychotherapist and an educator. My intrinsic determination to be liberated, from a young age, is the foundation of my identity as an activist in the movement to end gender oppression. But when I realized that the territories of my professional identity landscape as a psychotherapist were all connected through a language mired in a medical discourse that was inherently misogynist and anti-feminist I committed my focus as an activist to the to development of non-pathologizing therapeutic approaches to working with differently gendered people and their partners and families.
6. Where did you go for school/training?
Training Institute for Gender, Relationships, Identity, and Sexuality (TIGRIS), Albany, NY
Mill River Institute for Dialogic Practice, Haydenville, MA.
Smith School for Social Work, Northampton, MA
Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society, NYC
Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY
7. Do you have any literature out (websites, articles)?
Sennott, S. L. (2011). Gender disorder as gender oppression: A transfeminist approachto rethinking the pathologization of gender non-conformity. Women & Therapy, 34, 93-113.
Sennott, S., & Smith, T. (2011). Translating the sex and gender continuums in mental health: A transfeminist approach to client and clinician fears. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health, 15, 218-234.
Lev, A. I. & Sennott, S. L. (2011). Understanding gender nonconformity and transgender identity: A sex positive approach. In P. J. Klienplatz (Ed.), New Directions in Sex Therapy: Innovations and Alternatives (2nd ed.). Ann Arbor, MI: Taylor & Francis (forthcoming).
Lev, A. I. & Sennott, S. L. (2011). Trans-sexual desire in differently gendered bodies. In J. J. Bigner & J. L. Wetchler (Eds.), Handbook of LGBT-Affirmative Couple and Family therapy (2nd Ed.). New York, New York: Routledge (forthcoming).
Lev, A. I. & Sennott, S. L. (2011). Clinical work with LGBTQ parents and perspective parents. In A. E. Goldberg & K. E. Allen (Eds.). LGBT Parent Families: Possibilities for New Reasearch and Implications for Practice. New York: Springer (forthcoming).
8. What would you recommend to future professionals attempting to get into the field?
Find a community of like-minded people and never let them go, they will be your foundation for growth as a professional.
9. What is the most challenging aspect for you working in this career?
One of the most challenging aspects of my work is the sheer magnitude of the endeavor, there are always going to be people suffering from gender-based oppression.
10. One must read-what would you recommend? Why?
Ties that Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences, by Sarah Schulman
Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, by Julia Serano
If you read these two books you will have a clear understanding of how gender oppression operates in everyday life for LGBTQI people, starting from families and working its way out into communities and larger society.