Thursday, May 15, 2014

5 Things to Know if You're Transgender

1. You are not alone!

There are literally millions of trans men and women in the US. There are numerous groups out there that offer help and plenty of websites with good information. It may be difficult to find support in some areas but it does exist. Stay strong and know you are not alone in this. The simple fact that you are reading this blog shows that you are not alone... I'm a trans woman and I know people in all stages of their transition. One thing holds true for almost every one of them, we all need support of some kind and its important to know that it is out there.

2. You are NOT a freak!

While we all definitely can relate to feeling different or even out of place we are definitely not freaks. I will admit I fall victim to this mentality sometimes (particularly if someone does something or says something malicious towards me) but that does not make it true. We are people just trying to live our lives with our given set of circumstances. We deal with gender dysphoria, other people have their own issues. Some are very obvious, some are not. No matter how bad we feel it is important to remember we are worth it and we all deserve to be happy.

3. NEVER SELF MEDICATE

I have dedicated a number of articles on hormones and will only state here that you should NEVER EVER EVER self medicate with hormones. Hormones are dangerous chemicals and they do a lot more in our bodies than simply help us grow breasts and beards! What I really want to mention here as well is a bit on a practice called pumping. This is when people take it on themselves (or others) to inject silicone or other substances into their body in an attempt to change their appearance in a way that seems more desirable. Think back alley plastic surgery!

This is not only dangerous in it of its self but also carries with it the risk of infection and even blood born illness such as HIV or Hepatitis as many times needles and / or silicone is shared. This is NEVER worth the risk and can cause permeant injury, disfigurement and even death! Read this article here for an example of why this is a bad idea: Pumping Parties: A dangerous way to get curves.

4. Surgery will not "Fix" you

Surgery is a great goal to have but try to not fall into the trap of thinking it is a necessity. I know a number of non-opt people who are very happy living in their desired gender role. This isn't to say everyone should be non-opt, but your happiness shouldn't hinge on your physical sexual organs. Note that some people may never be able to have surgery. This is a real possibility and one that should be recognized. The reasons could be all kinds of things: money, health, age... Our physical sex is only a small part of what makes us who we are.

For me, I am very happy with the results of my surgery but I am no more a woman now then I was before I had SRS. I guess what I am saying is that if you think SRS will suddenly make you something, than you are fooling yourself. Who we are lies on the inside. Cheesy and cliche? Maybe, but it is 100% true.

5. We are not the gender police

One thing I have noticed is that some (maybe even most) trans people I have met are hyper aware of gender related comments. It is easy to pick up on the subtle misgendering that happens. Slight verbal or even non verbal actions that seem to scream "I know who you really are". Look, being misgender hurts, there is no doubt about it. However, what it means for someone to be transgender isn't always the easiest thing in the world for some people to understand.

It is no wonder that some people seem to have a hard time understanding that these seemingly malicious comments and actions are not always intentional. The clerk at the checkout may not be paying attention to you. The person on the phone or in the dive thru certainly has no visual cues to see what you look like. Also, remember our friends and loved ones are in a sort of transition as well. Your spouse may feel like they are loosing a husband or wife. Your siblings may feel they are loosing a brother or sister. You may be completely comfortable in your new skin and eager to get out in the world but the people around you may need time or not share your enthusiasm.

This isn't to say some people don't want to understand, that is certainly true. Just know that it isn't always the case and it isn't our job to constantly police everyone about their gender related vocabulary. Sure, sometimes I try and turn these situations (when appropriate) into an opportunity to help educate others on what it is we are going through but it isn't always appropriate. Sometimes it is just a simple mistake.




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