Most people walk around this world everyday not thinking twice about who they are. They work, they play, they laugh, they cry, they love. They don’t have a conflict about who they are inside and who they are on the outside. Because they don’t have this conflict, they don’t have the debilitating depression that comes with it.
A lot of transgender people suffer gender dysphoria, where the mind and body don’t match up. This can cause a serious and debilitating depression, the reason many transition. Dysphoria can get so bad that transitioning is all that’s left to do.
Most transgender people are around us every day, shopping, working, playing. We have children, spouses, parents and friends. Sometimes, unfortunately, those who love us the most are the least understanding. This can break up friendships and families. So it’s not a decision made lightly. Before transitioning, you generally go through months and years of anxiety thinking about the losses, the hate, the misunderstanding.
Some transgender people pass as the gender they identify with to the point people can not tell they have transitioned. Some don’t have that luxury because of the prices of getting facial feminization surgery and other surgeries. So some who do not pass are generally well known in their communities.
We just want to be able to go through life as anyone else does. We are human beings that, like the majority of people, just want equal rights. We want to live our lives in peace as everyone else does. We don’t want to have to worry about getting arrested just for using the bathroom of our gender identity. A majority of transgender people do not feel male one day, then female the next so they can use the women’s restroom. This is who we are everyday of our lives. It is not a choice. We go through a lot on a daily basis just to be our authentic selves.
Transgender People Are Confused
Just because we are different doesn’t mean we don’t know who we really are. We are a human being first. Most of us know there is something different between about 3 and 5 years old. At that age some of the confusion is from not knowing why. Before coming out, confusion might exist because of fear of doing the unknown. But as far as being transgender, we know exactly who we are.
Transgender People are Gay
Some assume we are gay. As with cisgender people, transgender people are straight or gay. Simply because we wear the opposite gender’s clothes doesn’t make us gay. We wear these clothes because this is who we actually are.
Transgender People Have Mental Problems
It is true that transgender people suffer from mental illness. But it’s not because of our gender identity. Being transgender can cause a lot of stress because of policies, laws, fear, hate and violence directed at us. We are faced with a lot of mental and emotional stress. The diagnosis is good because this means transpeople are hurting and need help.
Transgender People are Tricking Others
Nothing could be further from the truth. Transgender people are finally being honest with themselves and others with who they actually are.
Transgender People Make Up a Third Gender
Transgender people don’t make up a third gender. We are the gender we identify as: male, female, non-binary, gender queer, gender fluid, etc. Gender is a spectrum. People aren’t actually male or female. Gender varies as much as the people in this world.
Gender is the Same as Sex
Gender and sex are two different things. Sex is determined generally by genitals and chromosomes. Unfortunately chromosomes don’t always match one’s physical sex. Gender is determined by who you are in your mind. In most cases gender and sex are the same, but in about 0.6 percent of all humans, these two are not matched.
Being Transgender is a New Thing
Transgender people have existed throughout history and in other cultures like Native Americans and in southeast Asia. We are not “new” to the world. Native Americans were known as two-spirited and are considered transgender.
Transition is Dangerous
Most transgender people go through extended therapy and multiple visits with doctors, surgeons and psychiatrists throughout their lives to continue medical transition. No conclusive studies have been conducted to determine or believe it to be dangerous or unhealthy.
- Currently approximately 1.4 million (0.6 percent) transgender people are living in the United States. Not all gender nonconforming people on the gender spectrum consider themselves transgender, so that number is probably a bit low. Totals for Texas are 0.66 percent or 125,350.1
- Since July 7, 2017, 15 transgender people have been killed in the United States. All but one have been people of color. One was killed in Texas so far in 2017. Because transgender people are misgendered by families or police, the number could be higher. This number is on track to once again break a record for the third year in a row.
- Laws in 23 states in the United States allow discrimination against transgender people. Thirteen other states don’t allow complete protection. This includes jobs, housing and businesses. More than 200 cities and many counties have nondiscrimination laws.2
- Per the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 41 percent of transgender people at one time in their lives attempt suicide as compared to the general public rate of 4.6 percent. More transmen than transwomen attempt suicide some time in their lives.3
- Nearly half of all transgender people experience mental health issues, compared to 6.7 percent of the general population.4
- Most mental health issues are because of shame and stigma and being deprived of self or true to yourself. The misunderstanding and discrimination from friends, family and the general public is a huge part of depression. Just being accepted, especially by family, makes a big difference in how a transgender person feels and whether they excel in life.
- The is no record of a transgender person committing a crime in a bathroom. The fact is that transgender people are more at risk of using the bathroom that does not conform to their identity. This is especially unsafe for transwomen who would have to use the men’s room.
- Being transgender, just like being a gay man or lesbian, is not a lifestyle choice. We are born this way. We are not confused in who we are.
“Trans Panic” or “Gay Panic” is a defense used to justify murdering a trans person believed to have “tricked” the perpetrator. This defense is allowed in 48 states. California and Illinois are the only states that no longer allow this defense.
Endnotes: 1. The Williams Institute (How Many Adults Identify As Transgender in the United States) 2. National Transgender Discrimination Survey 3. The Williams Institute (suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults – Executive Summary) 4. Psychology Today (Why Transgender People Experience More Mental Health Issues) 5. http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/07/health/transgender-bathroom-law-facts-myths/index.html
Crossdresser – People who dress in the opposite sexes clothing but generally have no intent to transition and are not transgender.
Female-to-male transgender person (FTM) – A person who is born the female sex at birth, but has the internal sense of being the opposite sex.
Gender confirmation surgery (GCS) – Having surgery to conform to the person you internally are.
Gender expression – How you represent yourself or express your gender identity to others. This can be done through clothes, hair, voice, body or behavior.
Gender identity – A person’s internal sense of being male, female, or something in between.
Gender Nonconforming – Individuals whose gender expression is different from societal norms related to gender.
Genderqueer (Non-Binary) – Term used by some people who don’t identify as either male or female.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) – The taking of hormones of the gender you feel or the taking of opposite sex hormones.
Intersex – People who are born with external or internal genitalia of usually both sexes. Chromosomes or internal reproductive systems are not standard.
Male-to-female transgender person (MTF) – A person who is born the male sex at birth but has the internal sense of being the opposite sex.
Transgender – The sex you are doesn’t match the gender you are. An example: you’re born male but feel and know you’re female.
Transgender Man – Transgender person who identifies as male. (aka FTM)
Transition – What transgender people do to change their external self to equal their internal sense of gender. This is done in many ways: opposite sex hormones, social, clothing and surgery.
Transsexual – Usually considered the term for people undergoing surgery or hormone treatment. Some consider this term derogatory.
Transvestite – A crossdresser, considered a derogatory term.
Transgender Woman – Transgender person who identifies as female. (aka MTF)
Allies dos and don’ts
- Don’t out a transgender person. This can be very unsafe in certain conditions.
- Don’t use a transgender person’s dead name. It is called a dead name for a reason. This is not who they are.
- Do use the correct pronouns: he, he’s, his, her, hers, she, they, them. Know what they are or ask. If you make a mistake, apologize and move on.
- Do not refer to us as changing our gender. We are just correcting what we were born as.
- Don’t assume because you are an ally or friend you can ask us what our orientation is or if we have had surgeries, etc.
- Don’t comment on someone looking transgender. This may out them at a time they do not want to be outed.
- Don’t ask transgender people what bathroom they prefer.
- Cisgender people maintain certain private things. These should also be maintained with transgender people, as we are human just like you.