Trans folk may not be what, or who, you think they are.
If you have a trans friend, I commend you. If you have a trans family member, I commiserate with you. If you, yourself, are trans, I support you.
However, many people may never have met anyone who is transgendered. There are so many misconceptions out there, so much fear, and so many lies.
For instance, so many many people I know think being transgendered is a lifestyle choice or something you do on a whim.
Did you know it’s actually a medical condition? Researchers are beginning to see evidence that it is indeed possible to have a brain with the structure of one sex, in the body with the structure of the other sex. Because of biology and hormone balance, it is more common for male babies to be born with a female brain than vice versa. The cause seems to be hormone fluctuations that can sometimes happen during pregnancy.
The result then, is someone who feels, deep inside themselves, that they are one gender – because their brain is built that way – while their body is shaped another way. Some people who are transgendered are also intersex, where their body has both male and female sexual characteristics, but their inner sense of themselves differs from the arbitrary decision their doctor or their parents made at birth.
Bottom line: in many cases, a transgendered person has a valid and measurable medical reason behind their decision to take on a role as the opposite sex. It is a decision that only comes after much soul searching, it is not a whim or a snap decision, it is not a fetish, and it is not a lifestyle choice.
Transsexuals versus crossdressers
A crossdresser is someone who dresses as the opposite sex, for enjoyment or for many other reasons, but who still identifies as their birth sex. A transsexual is someone who was born as one sex but is changing to another. They may or may not have had surgery.
Sex versus Gender
Sex is what your body is shaped like. Gender is how you feel inside.
Problems with restroom access
Something that most people don’t know is that people who are going through gender transition are often required to be on hormones and live exclusively as their desired gender for at least a year before getting surgery.
If we think about this, it’s easy to see that forcing someone to use the bathroom of their birth sex could be quite problematic. This would require someone who is dressed as a woman, is passing quite well, and is doing everything like a woman, to use the men’s room anyway. This is a recipe for beatings and even murders. Meanwhile, if she had quietly used the women’s room, sat in the stall as she always did, By the way, she might have been doing that for months or years – without causing alarm or trouble. She doesn’t want trouble, she just wants to use the bathroom, like any woman.
Surgery is difficult, painful and expensive. Hormones are expensive and can be dangerous if mishandled. Doctors sometimes refuse to treat trans patients. So for those who say “why don’t they just get it over with and finish the process?” please consider that the person in question may want, very badly, to finish – but be unable to. It’s harder to get a job when you are trans, after all, and there are a lot of social roadblocks. Jokes about trans folk are common, there are few legal protections, and people die every day for being trans.
Because of the way she’s routinely treated, I know a trans woman who often says “we are the last niggers in America.”
Are transgendered people dangerous?
No. Nothing about having gender dysphoria makes you any more unstable than any other person. Statistically speaking, heterosexual-identified males are the most likely to predators, whether of children or otherwise. People who are trans may actually have more compassion than others because they are so frequently mistreated.
Can gender dysphoria be cured another way, such as through prayer?
No. It can’t. Gender dysphoria can be suppressed for a period of time as a person denies it and tries to meet societal expectations of who they should be. Many people try to be ultra masculine or ultra feminine in an effort to “be who they should be” before realizing that they truly are the other gender inside, and it’s not just a phase. Methods of treatment that don’t involve a transition usually result in depression at the best, suicide at the worst.
What trans people want
It’s a large subject and impossible to speak for everyone, but in general, trans folk just want the same rights everyone else has. They don’t want special rights, they just want to live normal lives. The goal of most trans women, for example, is to simply be a woman – not to be specially privileged, but deserving of the same respect everyone else gets.
What trans people are not
Trans people are NOT interested in “converting” your kids, and being trans is not contagious. They aren’t dangerous or unstable and many have incredible amounts of self knowledge. In general, they are not perverts. They are also not necessarily gay. They usually aren’t “confused” either.
How to refer to transgendered people
Individual tastes differ. You can say “a transgendered person” or “transgendered,” but never “a transgender.” Similarly, “a transie” can sometimes be an affectionate descriptor, but never “a tranny.” A tranny is a part off a car, not a person, and it’s usually very offensive. “Transsexual” is also usually appropriate.
Ways to support a trans person
First, treat them as the gender they present as. If you are confused about pronouns, just ask. Avoid asking a bunch of intrusive questions unless they have showed they are comfortable about it. Other than that, just talk – enjoy their company, treat them as a person. Most trans folk don’t want to center their life around their transition, they have other interests, skills, loves, dreams. Above all, just treat a trans person like… a person.
How you can help
I know this post has been long, and the people who need to read it probably won’t. Even if you never donate to a trans friendly charity or help a trans person directly, though, you can be educated about the subject and gently correct wrong assumptions and incorrect facts along the way. Also, parents, please teach your children that staring and making inappropriate comments is not polite and can hurt people.
I would truly appreciate it if anyone chooses to share or forward this blog entry, it may be copied and duplicated in excerpt or in part by anyone as long as the original intent of support is maintained. Thank you for caring enough to read this!