It’s getting harder and harder to live your life based only on what you see with your eyes. Now, if you see someone with breasts and delicate facial features, it does not mean that you can use the pronoun “she” and call her a girl. The number of transgender people in the world is not growing-it’s not a fashion, a mutation, or a virus-but more and more people are daring to declare that their biological sex does not match their gender identity. Heroine decided to break down some popular myths about who transgender people are, where the trend of using the pronoun “they” came from, and how a child can understand which gender he or she is.
Transgenderism is not a mental disorder
Major medical organizations like the American Psychiatric Association or the World Health Organization do not consider transgenderism to be a mental disorder. At the same time, they suggest that a person with gender dysphoria-an emotional disorder from a mismatch between their gender identity and their biological sex-should receive psychological help.
People who have a very large mismatch and a rejection of their own bodies can experience many difficulties in their daily lives. Every day they encounter assertions that they must behave in a strictly defined way or that their problems are far-fetched.
A psychologist can help with gender dysphoria, but it is not possible to simply get rid of transgenderism. By the way, not all trans people deal with a severe form of dysphoria, and some of them may not feel much anxiety about their condition.
Psychiatric associations even suggest abandoning the term “gender identity disorder,” using only the term “gender dysphoria” in order to reduce the stigma that trans people encounter. At the same time, experts point out that the main way to treat gender dysphoria is to look for the possibility of transgender transition, which entails hormone therapy, numerous commissions and operations.
A child can decide what gender he or she is
When non-transgender children say, “I know I’m a girl” or “I know I’m a boy,” no one questions that. But if a child says he knows his gender doesn’t match – we start accusing him of being too young to understand it. To say with 100% certainty whether your child will become transgender at that age, of course, is impossible. But if a child doesn’t know their gender by age 6, there is something wrong with them, and that’s an important signal. Some children, even at age five, can genuinely identify with a gender that doesn’t match the one assigned at birth. Some of them will simply begin to behave differently from the gender norms and will not make the transgender transition as adults. Nevertheless, even a young child can become aware of his or her gender.
The TransYouth Project’s research showed that trans children clearly respond to psychological tests about gender conformity as early as age 5. Their results are just as revealing as those who do not identify as transgender.
Diane Ehrensaft, director of mental health at Benioff Children’s Hospital, states that parents and doctors should pay attention when a child consistently and persistently talks about herself in a different gender. In doing so, care should be taken to ensure that the family maintains a supportive environment that allows the child to appreciate his or her own identity. If the family succeeds in doing this, it is more likely that the child will not encounter psychological problems or dysphoria as an adult.
The American Association for Transgender Discrimination Research stated in 2011 that trans people who are rejected by their families are almost three times more likely to be homeless, 73% more likely to be placed with families. In addition, those who are not accepted by their families are 59% more likely to commit suicide.
Transgender isn’t just someone who has gone in for surgery
Not every transgender person wants to undergo transition procedures. Some may undergo surgery for cosmetic, psychological, or medical reasons, but many choose not to. There can be many reasons for this: from not being able to afford such a procedure to not being sure that it will make them happy.
33 percent of transgender Americans have had surgery. At the same time, 14 percent of trans women and 72 percent of trans men state that they do not want genital surgery at all.
Transgender people very often face discrimination in medical settings that prevents them from receiving such care. In a survey published by various LGBT communities in 2010, 19% of trans people said they were denied admission because of their gender identity. 28% of participants had been insulted, and 2% had even been abused. This is what leads to the fact that trans people are basically afraid to go to the hospital, and 28% of all respondents chose to self-medicate even in cases of severe injuries or infections.
Transgender people are not a third gender
Most transgender people identify as male or female, not a third gender. Some entities have not understood the concept of transgenderism and have added the answer option “transgender” or “third gender” to their lists, but this option only exacerbates the stigmatization of trans people. Yes, there are people who define their gender as non-binary, but they usually have nothing to do with transgender people.
Sometimes there is overlap between transgender, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, and non-binary communities. People can identify with all, some, or none of these concepts, even if they exhibit traits attributed to these three forms of identity and expression. There are dozens of ways in which people identify and express themselves, so these three concepts are far from being entirely possible.
Not all transgender people wear clothes that are not their gender
People who wear clothes that are not their gender are not necessarily transgender; it is highly likely that they are transvestites. This term usually refers to men, mostly gay men, who dress in women’s clothes for fun.
Transgender people, on the other hand, do so because of gender dysphoria. A transgender person cannot simply give up their gender identity. He is also capable of giving up cross-dressing, performing on stage, and showing off as a drag queen – but this does not mean that he stops being transgender, unlike transvestites. For many transgender people, choosing gender affirming clothing is just one small part of the social transition-an act of transformation of family, friends, and society at large.
Transgender people are not the ones who are confused and succumb to pressure
The basis of much of the discrimination against trans people is that people who believe their gender is different from what set of genitalia they have are confused themselves and want to confuse others.
To refute this myth, it is worth explaining the concept of gender identity and expression. Identity is how one identifies oneself outside of social norms. Self-expression is the characteristics, traits and actions by which a person shows his or her gender.
Most people on the planet are cis-gendered – that is, their gender identity and gender expression are the same as the biological sex on their birth certificate. Perhaps this is why we have hardly ever seen mention of trans people in the media before, and it causes fear and rejection among most people. It’s hard to understand how someone who was born with a vagina and raised by a woman – feels like a man.
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine did a cross-cutting review of all existing research and concluded that even the available data is enough to find a link between biology and gender identity. Gender traits can be indicated at birth – not by genitalia – and will in no way be imposed by media or upbringing. This shows that trans people are not trying to trick or confuse anyone – they just want to be who they feel they are.
No one goes into surgery having been misled. Numerous studies published by SPARTA have shown that only 1 to 2 percent of transgender people who have made the full transition regret their decision. Despite these numbers, the myth is often repeated in the media, and it is even mentioned by commission chairs who sign transition documents. This contributes to creating a phobia and exacerbating gender dysphoria, which is poorly controlled when it is impossible to have surgery.
Transgender and intersex people are not the same thing
Some people believe that you can tell if an infant is a girl or a boy immediately at birth by assessing the genitalia. In reality, the situation is a little more complicated: according to some estimates, 1 in 2,000 babies is born with a set of characteristics that cannot be classified as “male” or “female.” For example, an intersex person’s DNA may contain XY chromosomes, but they will have a vagina and breasts, not a penis and testicles. And it’s not always the mismatch of genes and reproductive anatomy that gets noticed at the birth center.
Intersex and transgenderism are not related. Most transgender people are not intersex, and most intersex people are not considered transgender. Many intersex people with XY – usually male – chromosomes may consider themselves girls, be raised as girls, and for most of their lives be unaware of the discrepancy. However, as soon as they notice that the gender on their passport does not match their inner feeling, they may begin to change their appearance or social role. This is very similar to the path that transgender people take, but the starting point is still different.
Transgender people are not trying to become “straight.”
Although the acronym LGBT includes transgender people on a par with gay, lesbian and bisexual people, this does not mean that their orientation and gender identity are in any way related.
Orientation is a matter of which gender a person is attracted to. Identity is about who a person is. A transgender person can be raised as a man, identifying as a woman, and still be sexually interested in other women, in men, be bisexual or asexual. There is no single rule, which makes it even more difficult to understand trans people.
If someone lived as a man, dated women, and now lives as a woman and dates women, what does that mean? Is it because of a change in sexual orientation, or because that person has always been attracted to women?
Mara Keisling, trans woman and executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality
Transgenderism is not an attempt to get attention
Indeed, some behaviors by trans people are aimed at getting attention, and more often than not, it involves incidents of violence directed at them. Transgender transitioning is not an easy thing to do: First, it’s worth overcoming fears and doubts about how family, friends, and even a partner would feel about it.
46% of transgender people are verbally harassed at least once a year, and 9% have been physically assaulted because of their identity.
In children, the numbers are higher: 77% of high school students said they have experienced some form of abuse, 54% have been verbally abused, and 24% have been physically abused.
The conversation about transgenderism being fashionable is often started by those who ignore any statistics about violence in the country. At least eight trans people a year in the U.S. alone are killed just for being transgender. Great trend, where can you get in line?
The 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that trans and gender-nonconforming people are nearly four times more likely to live in extreme poverty than the general population.
A 2013 report by the New York Violence Project found that transgender people, particularly transgender women, face some of the highest rates of hate violence and homicide in the country.
A 2014 study by the Williams Institute and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found that 46 percent of trans men and 42 percent of trans women had attempted suicide at some point in their lives, compared to 4.6 percent of the general population.