This information is only intended for you if you agree with the disclaimer!!
Psychologists are completely free to apply any tests they deem necessary. We differentiate between written tests and oral questions.
You will be required to answer some 400-1000 multiple choice questions (depending on the gender team), usually they are built up as a statement with three to five possible answers, e.g.:
Please tick the box that most applies to you:
|I feel afraid of the dark|
|I feel shy|
The questions can be about all sorts of things. From our own experience and from what we have heard from others, we can give the following tips:
The purpose of this kind of test is to find out about your personality. One of the psychologists who decide on treatments in the Netherlands uses the following test:
- NPV-2 (personality test, see here for an example)
It isn’t very useful to lie on such a test: similar information can be derived from the conversations you have with the psychologist.
Examination for comorbidity (mental disorders alongside of being transgender)
In this kind of questions you will often see things like to what degree you “hear voices”. Or questions like whether you “have the feeling that other people can influence your mind or your feelings”. With these questions, they try to find out whether you are, for instance, schizophrenic or psychotic. This kind of questions is best answered with "Never".
Psychologists still are afraid that transgender people make decisions about the requirement to change their body parts based on something else than their "true" feelings. For more on this, please see the page Comorbidity and self-determination on this site.
Drawing a tree, a house and "two people of opposite sexes"
One of the assignments at the VUmc gender team is to draw a tree, a house and "two people of opposite sexes". You may have guessed it from the vague way this question is worded: the order in which you draw the man and the woman is relevant for the psychologist’s diagnosis. First draw somebody of the sex in which you were not born, and only after that draw the sex in which you were born. Also put more time and attention into the "desired sex" than into the "sex assigned at birth".
From the order of drawing, the psychologist will make conclusions about the degree to which you are transgender. Because you draw the sex "you are growing into" first and because you put more time and effort into that (producing a more neatly looking picture) than the sex in which you were born, they will think your gender identity is also different from the sex you were assigned at birth. The drawings of the tree and the house are also used to find out about your personality; it is more difficult to influence that.
The story of your life
Sometimes the psychologist will ask you to write the story of your life at home and mail that to the gender team. The life story is used in two ways:
1) Your transgender feelings: when did you find out that you were different from other people? And at which moment did you decide to take action on that? Psychologists believe that there must have been signs of your being a transgender person earlier in your life. Although we all know the standard stories – trans girls play with dolls and not with model trains; trans boys who prefer playing soccer to knitting; how did we feel about dress-up parties? – and these stories are sometimes authentic, psychologists admit by now that they don’t have to be true. But in that case they will be expecting other stories from which your being a transgender person becomes apparent.
2) The rest of your history: did you experience any stressful situations in your past? Psychologists use this to find out whether you have been able to deal with difficult situations earlier in your life successfully and whether you are strong enough to deal with going into a transition. Our tip: telling nothing about difficulties in the past is complicated; your behavior or your reactions may show that you have indeed been in difficult situations in the past. Don’t go into those too deeply in the written history of your life. And if they do ask questions about it, emphasize that you have survived those periods and that there is no need to discuss them in much detail now. Psychologists are also looking for "coping strategies": how do you deal with setbacks? It is good to think about this in advance...
Our tip: don’t make it too long. We know somebody who wrote a life story of 32 pages. When the psychologist asked a rather vague question about it, the trans person had no idea what the psychologist was referring to. She said: "Well, you should know by now!" (Referring to the life story.) These are very embarrassing situations, that is why it is best to make your life story about 2 or 3 pages long, so that you can read it again when preparing for later sessions.