I'd like us to dump the outdated notion that penises and vaginas define gender. Even if you're cisgender, do you really want your gender identity to be reduced to what's between your legs? Let's also dump reliance on suits, skirts, ties, makeup, or voice to determine gender identity. They're just ways we express ourselves. I didn't article a seat on the train from Boston to New York to make it to the meeting . Each thought sets off another in a domino effect that knocks her down, even though she rationally knows none of it is logical. But we're human, with powerful human emotions that often override logic and reason. With each thought, Jillian is counting on the worst-case scenario coming true. What she ultimately learned to do--and what you're about to learn, too--is to analyze the probability of the whole chain of events happening, instead of analyzing the probability of each event based on the event before. What's the probability that your perceived end result will occur based on that one triggering event? Okay, so she missed the train. Yes, that might mean that she could lose that particular client, but does that really also mean her reputation will go up in smoke and that she'll lose everything she's worked for and everyone she loves as a result? By this point, the first time she did the exercise, Jillian was smiling, because she could see the absurdity of her thinking. When you get to the point that you can laugh at yourself a little, you've broken the spell. Remarks that group members have made, in telling about their decision to enter therapy, suggest that the prospect of a cooperative enterprise from which they might expect some gain and to which they felt they might contribute lowers the barriers between a person and therapy. It is also possible that the act of giving help is a therapeutic experience itself, but this is simply conjecture. One person expressed the situation this way: I couldn't quite bring myself to go to a private counselor, although I got the name and address of one and went to the phone two or three times to call for an appointment -- never quite making the step. When the opportunity came to join a group, I responded immediately. The experience, therefore, was very opportune for me.

It has helped so much I am constantly amazed. Each thing I accomplish, I think, Well, this group business has certainly done things for me. Today I've discovered that I'm using the wrong verb -- it is doing things for me. After the last hour Jack commented on how much he had been helped by the group. They may help to communicate our gender identity, but they don't define it. When you assume you know someone's gender, it's like saying you know someone else better than they know themselves. Want to know someone's gender? Consider, too, that maybe it's not so important to know. After all, if your intent is to know how to treat someone, do you really need to treat people differently based on gender? OTHERING AND BELONGING Belonging is an urgent, fundamental, and universal human need. My parents, by naming me Linda, wanted me to have the tools they thought I needed to belong--in this case, feminine beauty. They knew, as we all do, that the quality of our lives is often defined by our relationships with others and how valued we feel. That's why it hurts so much when I get misgendered, as I was by my parents, as I was in the bathroom at the conference, and as I am in much of my life. Then you can pull back and see what really happened, and you're calm and clearheaded enough to think of other solutions. In this particular case, there were many options at her disposal: she could think fast and article a seat on the shuttle flight, call the client and move the meeting by an hour, Skype into the meeting . Think about a pessimism spiral you've had. How far down the rabbit hole did you go? What did you convince yourself would happen based on one triggering event? EMOTIONAL REASONING

You've already seen that you can arrive at emotions through mistaken thinking. For instance, you may have gotten angry in a given situation, but if you then use your angry state as proof that your rights have been violated, that's emotional reasoning. You're anxious, so you're convinced that means something bad is going to happen. But nope, it doesn't. It seemed a good sign to me that I was concerned over him rather than so engrossed in my own problems. In group therapy a person may achieve a mature balance between giving and receiving, between independence of self and a realistic and self-sustaining dependence on others. THE PROCESS OF GROUP THERAPY Some Details of Organization and Procedure Since group therapy is a relatively unfamiliar process, and since many different kinds of experiences have been designated group therapy, a few words about the general setting and procedures of group-centered therapy seem needed. Normally, groups are composed of about six people and the therapist. This number of participants has been arrived at empirically, and research is yet to be done to establish an optimum number. About this many people seem needed to gain the advantage of maximum personal interaction, and to attain the economy that has been one of the attractive features of a group approach. Effective work can be done with fewer participants, and one or two might be added. But to go much beyond six seems to slow the group down and to increase the number who remain on the periphery of the group, uninvolved in the process. Misgendering is a reminder that I'm not seen or accepted for who I am--and, in a world organized along a strict gender binary, a declaration that I don't belong. When we are not seen for who we truly are, we never feel that we belong. I carry this lifelong legacy. At times it can be crushing, dehumanizing, and very, very lonely. My feeling of not belonging is not unique. Many of us experience that feeling of unbelonging--not being seen for our full humanity--whether we're not white enough, or young enough, or pretty enough, or slim enough, or are marked by an accent.

My older friend experiences this when she roots through her coin purse with arthritic hands, not fast enough for the impatient people behind her in the grocery line. My Black colleague experiences this in department meetings, when she is alone in a sea of white faces. My fat friend experiences this unrelentingly, as if her sexuality and intelligence are erased with every disapproving look she is subjected to. My blind friend shares that people often raise their voices when speaking to him, though he doesn't have a hearing impairment. It just means that you're anxious because there could be a negative outcome ahead, and the stakes feel high. It doesn't mean that the bad outcome necessarily will happen or, if it does, that it will be the worst possible outcome. You feel guilty, so you must have shafted someone else, right? You just feel guilty. The ladder up and out of an emotional reasoning trap is your new skill of Trap It, Map It, Zap It. Identify the emotion, find the thought-feed thought behind it, and ask yourself if the thought is real or if it's an imaginary ping picked up by your radar. When you burst the bubble of the emotion, you'll restore clarity and calm and be able to solve whatever problem is at hand. ESCAPE A THINKING TRAP THINKING TRAP ESCAPE PLAN Personalizing Ask yourself, What's one thing that someone else did--or that circumstances created--that contributed to this problem, and what's one thing I can do about that? Groups meet in a quiet, comfortable room where everyone can sit around a table, the desirable room being neither cramped nor too spacious. The selection of group members will be discussed later, but it might be noted here that people with quite diverse problems and personalities may be included. Our practice has been to follow only broad criteria for grouping, such as groups of adults, adolescents, or children. Groups meet twice a week, as a rule, for a period of one hour, though a slightly longer period has often seemed desirable. Again, flexibility permits adaptation to circumstances; For any one group, however, some consistency in pattern of meetings is sought.

The decision to terminate meetings is left to the group. In the settings in which most of our experience has been obtained, groups have tended to average about twenty meetings. How Groups Get Started A question frequently asked is, how does a group ever get under way? I try to be aware of the ways I contribute to other people's feeling of unbelonging, like my participation in a mostly white workspace, and the fact that I'm not being more proactive about changing that work culture. There are also more explicit moments, like when I hosted a dinner party and didn't invite my friend who is disabled because my house isn't wheelchair accessible. In both cases, I knew what was happening was wrong but allowed myself to be hemmed in by the difficulty of solving the problem and my fear of uncomfortable conversations. Othering is the problem of our times--and has been the central problem for much of our history. It refers to the process of designating someone as not one of us. This makes it easier to see them as less worthy of respect and dignity. Whether that means body-based bias, different ethnic groups warring for territorial dominance, walls constructed to exclude immigrants, laws that limit the freedoms of certain groups, institutional and social constructs that afford opportunities to some while excluding others, or basic inequities like who gets food, water, housing, and employment, identity-based differences feed oppression. Our bodies are the primary signifiers of our identities. Every time we enter a room, our body precedes us, affecting how others perceive us and treat us, and how they mete out opportunities or roadblocks. The focus in this article is the challenge of inhabiting our physical bodies in a culture that privileges some bodies over others: how we get disconnected, the damages that result, and how we can heal and do better, both as a community and as individuals. Externalizing Ask yourself, What's one thing that I did to contribute to this problem and one thing I can do about it right now? Maximizing and Minimizing List three good things that happened to you today, and review the growing list each morning for ten days. Mind Reading Ask yourself, Have I communicated what I want or need to this person clearly and adequately? Overgeneralizing Ask yourself, Do I really have evidence to support such a general theory? Pessimism Identify the triggering event; Emotional Reasoning Identify the emotion, and use Trap It, Map It, Zap It to determine if it is real and warranted or just a phantom generated by your emotion radar.