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Transgender

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“I was born trapped in a body that didn't match the gender I am. I didn't know anything but discomfort and feeling out of place until I put a name to it, and decided to transition. After I had my first hormone injection, my first response was: "Ah! That's what I am supposed to feel like!" quoted by Unknown. Transgendered individuals not only have to deal with the normal obstacles that everyone else does, growing up, finding an identity, and simply living life, but also have to face who they really are, their families and the world. Imagine the toils on ones soul, living in a body that is not their own and trying to understand what will make it right, this is the struggle of a transgendered person. Transitioning from female to male, male to female is no easy, magical process either and involves emotional and physical hurdles. Hundreds of years ago, now and in the future transgendered people will strive for their true identity and place in the world, whether smiled or frowned upon, because that is who they are. Slowly, the transgendered community is becoming more and more accepted in society’s eyes but they still face discrimination from people and the law. With all the hate this world is filled with, war, oppression, massacres, and even seemingly meaningless banter, it is essential that everyone try to learn about and accept other’s differences. If people do not start trying to understand and support each other, we will crumble where we stand without anyone to lean on. The transgendered community is apart of the different lifestyles one should love and accept as any other and thus by learning more about them perhaps that love can grow.

The definitions of gender and sex have commonly been confused with one another and therefore have often been thoughtlessly misused. Although gender has been utilized to describe a person wholly as male or female, there is a distinction between gender and sex. According to the American Psychological Association, sex refers to the biological orientation of a person, their physical reproductive makeup which is male or female. Gender therefore is the actions, interactions and feelings one expresses either as boy/man or girl/woman. Usually male and boy/man attributes go together as female and girl/woman do, but this is not a pattern solidified in stone and so the term transgender was coined to represent another pattern. By these standards then, what is it to be transgendered? Transgendered most nearly means that a person is born a certain sex but does not act according to the gender that is generally identified with their sex. So not all transgendered people necessarily want to change sexes or live full time as another gender, but can choose to go about part-time as another gender. The realization that one is in fact transgendered can either happen at a young age or fairly older one, everyone has a different journey but some suffer from the diagnosed psychological disorder that is gender dysphoria. Virginia Prince explains dysphoria as, “in lay terms, I take it to refer to being uncomfortable, unhappy or dissatisfied with some condition.”(471) As a result, gender dysphoria is when a person feels distressed due to their gender and does not feel right in the body they are in. Transgendered people who suffer from this are generally transsexuals, usually seeking out SRS (sex reassignment surgery) to cure their gender dysphoric feelings. By learning the terminology used to describe the transgendered community one can attempt to take a step closer to understanding who they really are.
When a male decides they want to become a female and vice versa they undergo a series of procedures to get their desired end result, this period of time from one gender and sometimes sex to another is called “transitioning”. Essientially there are five main steps involved in transitioning which are, Questing, Gender Variant (showing mixed feelings about gender), Transitioning, Newly Transitioned, and Assimilated. According to Lynn Conway, “Roughly one in every 2000 people in the U.S., both male and female, now completes a social, hormonal and surgical gender transition sometime during their life. Even more people complete hormonal and social transitions without undergoing SRS…If perhaps 1/4 of all transitioners now attempt to transition during their high-school and college years, then a large state university of 20,000 students might have at least 4 to 8 transitioning or transitioned students at any one time.” The transitioning process is no easy thing and neither is paying for it. For male to female, transitioning costs a lot because of psychological therapy, hair removal, voice change, hormones, facial feminization surgery, vagino plasty and breast augmentation, similarly for female to male but with slightly different procedures. The main steps that are important for transitioning are as follows: self acceptance, coming out, when to transition, getting money for procedures, choosing and changing one’s name, voice alteration, hormones, other physical alterations, and living full time as one’s preferred gender. All of these steps are imperative to transitioning because they fully allow one to physically, mentally and socially change from one gender and/or sex to another. The transitioning process as a whole is usually very difficult due to emotional struggles, social acceptance, and cost, but simultaneously rewarding and life changing.
Living in the world today, although there is a higher tolerance for transgendered individuals then in the past, can be a very hard thing. Normal things such as applying for jobs, buying a house or getting married can be either very difficult to do or unattainable for some. The American Psychological Association states that, “Antidiscrimination laws in most U.S. cities and states do not protect transgender people from discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. …transgender people in most cities and states can be denied housing or employment, lose custody of their children, or have difficulty achieving legal recognition of their marriages, solely because they are transgender. Many transgender people are the targets of hate crimes.” Transgendered people are often targets for hate crimes, just because of who they are. The Human Rights Campaign states that by being transgendered, a person has a one in 12 chance of being murdered compared to the one in 18,000 chance that a non-transgendered person has. General discrimination that transgendered people face in everyday life is just as intolerable as hate crimes and more frequent. Caroline Cossey, famous model and bond girl of the 80’s, was "outed" by the tabloid “News of the World” right before her marriage, which temporarily put a stop to her modeling and acting career. Transgender discrimination today is still quite bad, and is one of the main reasons that stops transgendered people from openly expressing who they are, which no one should have to endure.
By educating others about the transgender lifestyle, perhaps they can open their eyes to see that transgendered people love, feel and are the same as everyone else, so society can learn to accept all forms of individuals. Being a transgender person is hard enough already without discrimination with accepting themselves, coming out to family and friends, going through transition, and living in a world that is not so tolerant. Terms that identify the transgender community are also important to distinguish such as gender and sex, because they are commonly confused. The transitioning process is complex both in the emotional and physical context. Discrimination today against transgendered people is still thriving and should not be tolerated in society. Everyone is different in some way and simply because one person’s differences are more obvious does not mean they should be subjected to greater or any discrimination.

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