Monday, May 8, 2017

Transgender - A Brief Explanation

I want to point out that this article may sound a bit technical and well.. it kinda is. I also know that many people define these terms differently and identify in all kinds of ways. The goal here is to educate and give people who may not know or understand a foundation.

So I think that any discussion on what being transgender is about should naturally start with a base definition the term transgender. Before we do that though I just want to bring up one other term: The term transsexual is quickly becoming outdated; however, I personally do not have negative feelings towards it (other people feel differently). In the past it was meant to describe someone who feels an extreme amount of distress because their physical sex does not line up with their gender identity (we will get into what gender identity is in a below) and would like to transition. Either way, as usage falls and the term holds less meaning I will not use it in this article and simply stick with transgender.

What ever term you use the point is that for some people the level of discomfort a trans person feels towards their physical sex can vary greatly from person to person and can even fluctuate for the individual at different times in their life. Also, while a some percentage of trans identified persons do seek therapy, hormones, and or SRS (sexual reassignment surgery); it is important to understand that this is not the case all the time. Some people may never change anything outwardly about their lives.

Now I could ramble on but I won't... Instead I will offer my take on some additional relevant terms that may help people understand what this all means.

Other Important Terms

Transgender - Transgender is a term that can be used to describe just about anyone who is gender variant. This includes people in the process of transitioning, people who identify as genderqueer, cross-dressers, (some) drag queens and kings and more. The basic idea is gender variance. It is important to understand that these groups all do what they do and feel the way they feel for different reasons (and there sometimes is overlap). Also, some members of these groups may not identify as being transgender.

Genderqueer - Someone who's gender identity is outside the social norm (often called the gender binary). These people often identify as both male and female, neither or non-gender, or some other gender or combination. While non exclusive to this group, many people in this group use non-gendered pronouns such as "they".

Transvestite - This is an outdated clinical term (I personally hate it and always found it unnecessary) for someone who dresses as a member of the other gender but does not necessarily see themselves as that gender. Motivations for dressing may be sexual but could also be many other things as well such as simply wanting to feel pretty every once in a while. In general this group is comprised of straight men. Lastly, it is important to point out that there is often a grey area here. Some cross dresser later identify as transgender while others do not.

Drag Queen / King - Someone who dresses as a member of the other gender for performance reasons such as male or female impersonators. Could be straight, gay, bi, transgender, anything really. The point is they are a performer and the term refers to them in that role, not really in terms of there gender identity.

Sex - OK this is a hard thing to define... I break it up into different parts below.

Physical Sex - The aspect of one's identity that correlates to one's apparent sexual organs at birth. This is usually based off of the arbitrary observation of a penis or a vagina made by the doctor. This has nothing to do with ones gender or their gender identity as I will explain below.

Also, while physical sex is often determined by a persons sex chromosomes (XY for male, XX for female) these chromosomes are related to the development of a person's sexual organs, not the development of their gender identity. Also note that in rare cases a person can physically develop as a male with XX sex chromosomes or female with XY.

Intersex - People who are described as intersex have ambiguous genitalia or atypical sexual chromosomes groupings. This includes XXY, XYY, XO and any number of combination. Unfortunately these people are often surgically "corrected" in infancy based on what is the doctors best guess as to what the baby should be. This opens the door for all kinds of problems down the road. Note that not all intersex people see themselves as transgender.

Gender Identity - A person's gender identity involves their personal experience and sense of being a male, female, neither, or both. How we come to our understanding of our gender identity is a bit complicated and not well understood; however, if is not inherently linked to our sex chromosomes (something supported by history, biology, psychology, and medicine). I believe the point to remember is that the "why" or "where" doesn't really matter. The point is that our identity; not just trans people, but all or us, is our own. Just like sexuality we experience it and therefore we are the sole arbiters of defining it.

Gender Role - The actions, customs, and behaviors that are considered cultural norms for a given gender.

That is about it for a basic primer. Not to complicated I hope...

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Firstly I have read each and every page on this site and the information is amazing, thank you. Now the problem is I don't know what I am, who I am or why I turned up different, all I do know is I am one very mixed up person. I think something happened when I was born but as it was the sixties it seems very difficult to find out what, also I don't live in the country I was born in so getting information is even more difficult. To look at I am male and have male bits but from the age of 11/12 started to develop breasts, was dragged from one specialist to another on whatever pretense could be thought up but was never included in discussions and finally got very tired of being poked and squeezed so gave up on the whole thing. This had a massive impact on my school life as you can imagine with constant teasing and bullying resulting in avoiding school at every opportunity. All this time I was secretly trying on womans clothing and particularly bras which fitted well and felt comfortable and somehow normal, unable to tell anyone and probably to hide the fact I had breasts, put on weight (I have always been on the large side!) until about 15 months ago when I had reached 16 stone plus, decided that things had to change so embarked on a weight loss campaign and within 6 months had lost around 4 and a half stone, instead of this being the total improvement, caused untold problems with thyroid issues and very little reduction in breast size making it more difficult to hide the fact, this made me more confused, more wanting to wear womans clothes and spending most of my time wearing a bra and loving it. Now I have had so many blood tests and my estrogen level is 4 times what it should be along with some other weird results, I have never had much in the way of body hair, my skin is really soft, my voice soft, my genitals have never really grown as much as normal but have always worked ok, the problem is that the longer my estrogen level is high the more I want to experiment with female things and love feeling this way and love the fact I am different but want to talk to someone about it, wether its doing me any harm, will it sort itself out (I have had radioactive treatment for thyroid) am open to any suggestions!!