There is no simple way to explain being transgender, but it is one-way that gender is identified. The same way you are identified as a male of a female. However, you are not born a transgender person. Being transgender is something you feel is right for you; it is an identity. It is anything from a person’s overall behaviour, how a person dresses, and a person’s mannerism that helps them define themselves.
“Gender Dysphoria” is a medical term used by doctors and psychologists to describe the unhappiness, distress, and anxiety individuals may feel due to their gender (Parenthood, Planned. 2020). When your body and mind do not match your gender, the feeling related can lead one to gender dysphoria. Once diagnosed, the said person goes through a medical treatment helping them transition under the right guidance. A 2011 research study by the Williams Institute shows that more than 700,000 adults in the US alone identify themselves as transgender (Gates, G. J., 2011). However, being transgender means different things to different people.
The most common mistake individuals make is my mixing gender identity with sexual orientation. Here is where you are wrong, being transgender does not mean you are a lesbian, gay, or bisexual – as this is your sexual orientation, not your identity. Gender identity is who you are (Bradford, Alina 2018). A question is asked: Do you feel like a man trapped in a woman’s body – or a woman trapped in a man’s body? Some individuals can also feel a little bit of both – whereas sexual orientation is about the individuals you are attracted to. No rule says a gay, straight, lesbian, or bisexual individual cannot be transgender, but they are entirely different. Keep in mind that your gender identity is who you are, not what you prefer.
Realizing you are transgender can happen at any age. It is not something that comes with age but by understanding. Some individuals know from an early stage that they might be different from others, while understanding and accepting who they are may take some time. However, when most transgender people think back, they can recall the exact moment they knew. The feeling of not fitting in generally comes from many different root sources, one being transgender. When you feel like your gender does not match your identity because of how you feel about yourself, not how you feel about others. Working through the issues you have takes much time, and coming to a conclusion where you are right with accepting who you are is the best feeling in the world. You may come from a space where even talking or mentioning the issue can cause you distress, but it has a lasting impact on your mental and emotional state caused due to shame, confusion, or even fear. Even so, repressing how you feel does not go well in any scenario, meaning you will never be pleased or feel content. Fortunately, with more people coming forward as transgender and making a stand in the community, many people who were too afraid to have their world accept themselves as transgender can finally feel at ease. Being transgender does not come into play overnight; it is a long progress with many ups and downs. The key is to focus on yourself and know that the people who genuinely love you will accept you for who you are at the end of the day. It will not be easy, but the results will be worth it. Another way to confirm your doubts is by seeing a professional who can help you sort through your feelings. Working through each issue helps you clear your mind, allowing you to see who you are as a person and accept yourself.
While most transgender people identify themselves as either male or female, some share traits from both sectors. For instance, if a transgender person transitioned from male to female, they may still have masculine characteristics. They are thus creating a blend that is neither a trans man nor a trans female. These are the individuals who sometimes do not identify themselves with any gender. Moreover, some transgender individuals might shift from one sector to the other. These individuals are considered to be non-binary, which is referred to as both male and female. Another term commonly used is genderqueer; both fall under the same category and carry both genders’ characteristics rather than choosing one. Understanding the differences helps you understand that being transgender is not a third gender; it is how a person identifies. Breaking all barriers to come to terms with who they are, which is why they should be treated with the respect any man or woman would be.
Gender transition is much like any other transition in your life, the same way you go from adolescence to adulthood – you go from being a man or a woman to being transgender (Arndt, MSN, APRN-Np, 2015). It is a part of who you are if growing up is natural, so are you taking on being transgender. However, the transition itself is a choice; while many may choose to transition at some point in their life, others never do. Keep in mind that gender transition can be done in many ways to make the person transitioning comfortable. For instance, you can choose to change the way you dress, your name, your appearance, or anything related. Some go forward and change their gender on their government issues identifications, and others take on medical procedures to their physical appearance and characteristics. Every transgender person is different, and so is their experience and the choices they make. It can be anything that allows you to follow a content life, choosing their path in the world. There is no set example to follow here; all you have to do is allow yourself to be the person you know you are.
Some trans individuals wish to make legal changes as part of their transition; these can do so by changing their name, updating their gender, and so on. While these might feel like small changes to many, they significantly impact the individual’s life and transition. By understanding it is a crucial set, can one genuinely set on the path. It is essential to ensure that trans individuals can lead a ‘normal’ everyday life even after their transition period. Some legal documentation a transgender individual will go through to complete their full transition are:
- Driver’s License
- Social Security
- Bank account
- Official records
- Credit cards
- Job-related documents
- Medical records
- Birth certificate
- Academic records
These will help cover the necessary basics identifications, setting up for their new life (National Center for Transgender Equality, 2016). Simultaneously, completing the changes prevents transgender individuals from gender-related issues on their legal documents that can tie them up for months and, at times, years to come. Due to the hassles associated with the process, only a small amount of trans individuals have changed their identification. In the United States, to help trans individuals with this issue, they have adopted easily accessible and straightforward policies that help with their transition (National Center for Transgender Equality, 2016).
Some transgender people choose to undergo some medical treatments to complete their transition. These can help them to look as they feel they should. These medical procedures include, but are not limited to:
- Hair removal
- Hair growth
- Hormone therapy
- Breast implants
- Breast reduction
- Facial reconstruction
- Gender reassignment surgery
One of the main reasons trans individuals shy away from themselves is the treatment and abuse they see others go through. While every human being should be considered equal, there are times and places where being tans can have negative impacts (National Center for Transgender Equality, 2012). For instance, trans individuals are more likely to:
- Get fired/Denied an opportunity
- Face bullying or harassment
- Live in poverty or become homeless
- Denied shelter or housing
- Denied medical care
- Denied critical care
- Face violence or abuse
- Be targeted by law enforcement officers
Sometimes, being a transgender person can be frightening in certain places and not accessible, but this has gradually changed as people become accepting. Trans individuals in the coming years have been less afraid to come forward with who they are.
Being a transgender person is not easy and will take on a journey of its own. However, it is the best thing that will ever happen to you, and the difference you make will stay with you forever. Knowing you could inspire others to be who they are rather than shying away from what will make them happy. Acceptance. Love. Peace.
- Gates, G. J. (2011). How Many People are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender? UCLA School of Law Williams Institute.
- Parenthood, Planned. (2020). “What Does Transgender Mean?: Gender Identification Facts.” Planned Parenthood.
- Bradford, Alina. (2018). “What Does ‘Transgender’ Mean?” LiveScience, Purch.
- National Center for Transgender Equality. (2016). Frequently Asked Questions about Transgender People.
- Arndt, A. K., MSN., APRN-Np. (2015). Sharing the Journey of a Transgender Patient. Clinician Reviews. 25(9):12, 14 et al.
- National Center for Transgender Equality. (2012) National Transgender Discrimination Survey: Full Report.