Psychological Distress and Coping Strategies Among Transgenders

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“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you”.1 Transgender is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles. Transgender is the state of one's "gender identity” (self-identification as woman, man, neither or both) not matching ones "assigned sex" (identification by others as male, female or intersex based on physical/genetic sex). A transgender individual may have characteristics that are normally associated with a particular gender, identify elsewhere on the traditional gender continuum, or exist outside of it as "other", "agender", "Genderqueer", or "third gender". Transgender people may also identify as bigender, or along several places on either the traditional transgender continuum, or the more encompassing continuums which have been developed in response to the significantly more detailed studies done in recent years.2 'Transgender' refers to a person, male or female, who dresses, acts or presents in a manner that differs from his or her gender norm. 'Transgender' includes transvestites (both fetish and dual-role), drag queens, drag kings, androgynes and genderqueers. It does not include transsexual people.3 The transgender community in India, known as hijras, number up to a million people and occupy a unique role in society. On the one hand, they are called upon to offer blessings during auspicious occasions like weddings and at births. The rest of the time, they are not only ignored but often ostracized from society.4 Transgender individuals are commonly viewed as a part of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) community, forming the commonly known acronym LGBT. However, inclusion of transgender individuals within the sexual orientation political movement, and at social or cultural gay/lesbian events is highly debated. This is due to the division of sexual orientation and gender identity, which, though correlated, are different constructs. Whereas sexual orientation refers to one’s emotional, romantic and sexual attraction to others, gender identity refers to the person’s relationship to their gender and is largely independent of orientation. It is important to make the distinction between sex and gender. Sex is biological and physical (e.g., chromosomes, hormones, gonads), while gender is psychologically and socially constructed. For transgender individuals, gender is not congruent with sex. In order to align sex and gender a transgender individual may or may not undergo medical treatment, such as hormones or surgery.5 Psychological distress is the end result of factors–example, psychogenic pain, internal conflicts, and external stress that prevent a person from self-actualization and connecting with 'significant others'6. Coping is the expending conscious effort to solve personal and interpersonal problems, and seeking to master, minimize or tolerate stress or conflict. Psychological coping mechanisms are commonly termed coping strategies or coping skills. The term coping generally refers to adaptive or constructive coping strategies, i.e., the strategies reduce stress levels. Furthermore, the term coping generally refers to reactive coping, i.e., the coping response follows the stressor. This contrasts with proactive coping, in which a coping response aims to head off a future stressor7. Brief Resume of Intended Work

The term transgender (TG) was popularized in the 1970s (but implied in the 1960) describing people who wanted to live cross-gender without sex reassignment surgery. In the 1980s the term was expanded to an umbrella term, and became popular as a means of uniting all those whose gender identity did not mesh with their gender assigned at birth. In the 1990s, the term took on a political dimension as an alliance covering all who have at some point not...
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