TRANSGENDER is a term used to describe people whose gender idenity differes from the sex they were assigned at birth. GENDER IDENTITY is a person’s internal sense of being a man or a woman (boy or girl). For some, gender identity is not limited to either male or female. For transgendered people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their internal gender identity do not match.
Sexual orientation is about who you are attracted to and fall in love with: gender identity is about who you are. Like everyone else, transgendered people have sexual orientation. Trans people may be gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, or queer. For example, a person who transitions from male to female and is attracted solely to men would typically identify as a straight woman. A person who transitions from female to male and is attracted solely to the male sex would identify as a gay man.
Gender Identity refers to the internal concept of self as a man, a woman, or both. Gender expression refers to the external concept of how one presents their identity – usually through clothing, makeup, and other forms of self expression.
A person’s SEX refers to the identity given to them at birth, most often based on their physical anatomy. GENDER is a broad term typically used to describe a person’s own sense of behaviors, characteristics, and thoughts. Think of it as SEX is what the doctor says you are based upon sight at birth. GENDER is a sense of self awareness. In some cases, one’s GENDER might be different than their assigned sex at birth.
People can realize they are transgender at any age. Some trace their awareness back to the earliest memories they have of life. As if they “always knew” though they might not have been clear of the WHAT. Some people may go most of their lives feeling like they don’t fit in, or something about them just “isn’t right.” Trying to repress one’s gender or identity doesn’t work. In fact, it can be painful and damaging to one’s emotional and mental health. Others go without discussing their feelings out of fear of being rejected, shamed, or unwanted. For most transgendered people, recognizing who they are and deciding to transition to be their authentic self is a complex process that requires a lot of personal reflection. Transgendered people risk a myriad of discrimination, stigmas, or harrassment. Most fear their loved ones will abandon them. With all of this in mind, transgendered people who decide to live their life as their authentic self exhibit tremendous amounts of bravery in facing a world that would rather not see them.
Counseling aimed at changing someone’s gender identity is commonly known as conversion therapy. It can be extremely harmful to the individual, and it simply is NOT sound medical advice. Infact, the medical community has come to an overwhelming consensus that the belief in someone’s gender being changed thorugh conversion therapy causes much more emotional damage than nurtuting that person through transition to authenticity. Telling someone that their core belief of who they are is wrong, delusional, or forcing them to change who they feel they are can lead to lasting substance abuse, depression, self hatred, or even suicide. This growing fear of the unknown (known as prejudice) is the leading cause for many states to make it illegal for licensed therapists to try to change a young person’s identity. However, most transgendered people find it helpful to seek counselling where they are supported on their journey. Through proper counseling, the transgendered community can be prepared for the ramifications and repercussions of an intolerant world.
Not all transgendered people go through the process of changing their documents. The process can be both lengthy and expensive. While some states have made it easier for trans people to update their documents, a handful of states have made it more difficult. Changing identity documents is one of many achievements for the trans community and one of few that offer the person a sense of validity. Some transgendered people face adversity, harassment, violence, and oftentimes litigation for possessing documents that do not match their gender presentation. Here is a sampling of documents a transgendered person commonly seeks to have changed upon completion of their transition. DRIVERS LICENSE, SOCIAL SECURITY CARD, PASSPORT, BANK ACCOUNTS, CREDIT CARDS, PAYCHECKS, LEASES, MEDICAL RECORDS, SCHOOL TRANSCRIPTS,BIRTH CERTIFICATE *Due to the overwhelmingly difficult process of changing these documents, only ONE FIFTH (21%) of transgendered people have been able to update all of their identifying documents.
Some, not all, transgendered people undergo medical treatments to make their bodies align more with their gender identity and help live a healthier life. Transition related care can be highly expensive, and is not required for someone to live their life authentically. Quite simply, it isn’t anyone’s business what is or isn’t in someone’s jeans. Examples of medical treatments available include: HAIR GROWTH or REMOVAL TREATMENTS, HORMONE THERAPY, PLASTIC SURGERY, and GENDER AFFIRMING SURGERY
Transgendered people have been well documented in many indigenous, Western, and Eastern cultures and societies from antiquity through present day. However, the meaning of gender non-conformity may vary from culture to culture.
Parents MAY feel a sense of concern over this situation due to the intolerance so easily exhibited by our fellow man. Some children express a great deal of anguish over the sex they were assigned at birth, or expectations to fit into gender expressions that have been chosen for them. Some children experience difficulty forming relationships with peers or adults because of their gender expression. Parents who describe their child’s actions as a “phase” are more likely to have difficulty accepting the reality of having a trasngendered child. Supportive parents are those who work with school officials to identify and avoid any potential hazards when it comes to their child’s safety. A person who is transitioning with the support and guidance of their family often has a higher success rate in everyday life. It is never helpful to force a child to behave in a specific gender conforming way. Parents seeking advice on such material often find the best information is learned through forging relationships with families who have experienced a similar situation. It is important to note that transitioning, or identifying as transgender is not in any way related to the timing of puberty. Furthermore, the onset of puberty does not and will not “fix” the individual.
A psychological state is considered a mental disorder only if it causes significant distress or disability. Many transgendered people do not experience their gender as distressing or disabling, which implies that being transgender does NOT constitute a mental disorder or deficiency. For these people, the significant problem is finding available and affordable resources (counselling, hormone therapy, medical procedures, and social support to name a few.) Many other obstacles may lead to distress including lack of acceptance, experiences with assault, discrimination, or being the victim of a sex crime.
A recent study by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force sampled approx. 6,500 people. The report found that transgender people experience HIGHER RATES of discrimination in areas of employment, housing, education, legal systems, and even within their own families.
The organization GLAAD suggests that the best way to find out about someone’s gender identity is to directly ask the person. If they feel comfortable sharing their personal details, they will. If not, the subject is best left alone. Discussing someone’s gender identity without them present or without their permission can be considered a form of intolerance Here is a socially acceptable way to inquire about someone’s gender when you meet them: Introduce yourself and proclaim what pronouns you use. Hi there, my name is Darren. My pronouns are HE and HIS. How about you? *The use of pronouns signals to the transgender person that your inquiry is not one with negative annotations.
As is with most cases of discrimination – the root causes are prejudice and lack of education. We live in a digital world where uneducated people confuse opinion with fact and use this misinformation as a weapon in the ballot box. Transgender discrimination is made more complex and often gains significant traction when allys don’t go far enough to embattle it. For too long, people have stood by and witnessed the persecution of transgender people simply because they are often too afraid to stand up for others.