1. Who are transgender people?

Sexual identity and Gender identity ares how one percieves their gender and sexuality. Sexual behavior is how one expresses their sexuality.
Transgender people are those whose gender identity or gender expression differs from conventional expectations for their physical sex. Gender identity is one’s internal sense of being male, female or perhaps something else. Gender identity is commonly communicated to others by one’s gender expression (clothes, hair style, mannerisms, etc.) Transgender people have been part of every culture and society in recorded human history. Medical researchers now believe that transgenderism is rooted in complex biological factors that are fixed at birth. However, societal intolerance often makes being transgender a painful, personal dilemma.

Transgender people include pre operative, post-operative and non-operative transsexuals, who generally feel that they were born into the wrong physical sex; crossdressers (formerly called transvestites), who occasionally wear the clothing of the opposite sex in order to express an inner, cross-gender identity; and many other identities too numerous to list here. Trans people are usually categorized by their gender vector – Male-to-Female (MTF) or Female-to- Male (FTM) – although a growing number of trans youth prefer to identify as gender queer, beyond male and female.

It’s important to note that the term ‘transgender’ describes several distinct but related groups of people who use a variety of other terms to self-identify. For example, many transsexuals see themselves as a separate group, and do not want to be included under the umbrella term ‘transgender.’ Many postoperative transsexuals no longer consider themselves to be transsexual. Some non-operative transsexuals identify themselves as transgenderists. Despite this variation in terminology, most trans people will agree that their self-identification is an important personal right, which we strongly support.

2. Who are crossdressers?

Crossdressers are generally thought to be the largest group of transgender persons.Although most crossdressers are heterosexual men, there are also gay and bisexual men, as well as lesbians, bisexual and straight women, who crossdress. Many male crossdressers are married and have children, and most keep their transgender status private. Unlike transsexuals, they do not wish to change their physical sex..

3. What causes one to be a transsexual?

No one really knows, but there are many theories. It may be caused by the bathing of a fetus by opposite birth sex hormones while in utero, or perhaps by some spontaneous genetic mutation, which is also one of the theories of the origin of homosexuality. Transsexual persons include both female-to-male (FTM) transmen and male-to-female (MTF) transwomen. Due to the intensity of their gender dysphoria, they come to feel they can no longer continue living in the gender associated with their physical (birth) sex.

4. What is gender dysphoria?

Gender dysphoria is a psychological term used to describe the feelings of pain, anguish, and anxiety that arise from the mismatch between a trans person’s physical sex and gender identity, as well as familial, peer and societal pressures to conform to gender norms. Almost all transgender people suffer from gender dysphoria in varying degrees. From an early age, some children become profoundly unhappy living in the gender of their birth sex, and a few fortunate ones have parents who support their cross-gender identity. However, many children will hide their true gender and struggle to conform to parental and societal expectations.

The desire to modify the body to conform to one’s gender identity cannot be adequately explained by someone who is transsexual, nor can it be fully understood by someone who is not. This self-perceived need becomes a determined drive, a desperate search for relief and release from that ultimate of all oppressors – one’s own body. Nor can the urgency itself be easily understood. It is a need to match one’s exterior with one’s interior, to achieve harmony of spirit and shape, of body and soul. It is a cry to be granted what is a given for all others:a gender identity not to be doubted or ridiculed, but simply accepted.

Sometimes after years of denying or suppressing their gender identities, many trans people transition to their true gender to seek relief from the intense suffering and to become who they truly are.

5. What is gender transition?

Gender transition is the period during which trans people begin changing their appearances and bodies to match their internal gender identity. Because gender expression is so visible, trans people in transition must “out” themselves to their employers, their families, and their friends – literally everyone in their lives. During transition, they are particularly vulnerable to discrimination and in dire need of support from family and friends. Gender transition usually includes a period of psychotherapy to begin dealing with the many relational issues and psychosocial adjustments; the beginning of lifelong hormonal therapy; a Real Life Experience; and finally, if desired, sex reassignment surgery.

6. What is transgender hormonal therapy?

Transgender hormonal therapy is the administration of estrogen in MTF trans people and testosterone in FTM trans people to develop the secondary sexual characteristics associated with their gender identity. For some, this second adolescence feels like coming home, while others struggle with the moodiness Our Trans Children and physiological changes. Depending on age and other factors, hormonal therapy can take several months to many years to effect the physical changes that produce a passable appearance. It is not without risks and should not be done without medical supervision. However, many trans people self-medicate, obtaining their hormones on the streets, from friends or via the internet.
Transmen seem to gain a passing appearance rather quickly. Testosterone causes their voices to deepen and their facial and body hair to develop, but does not add much to their height.
For transwomen, it generally takes longer to pass in their inherent gender, since estrogen will not raise their vocal range or remove their facial or body hair, which must be done through electrolysis or laser treatment. Once a passing appearance is attained, most trans people choose to keep their transgender status private, which is often called living in stealth.

7. What is Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)?

SRS (also called Gender Reassignment Surgery or Gender Confirmation Surgery) is the permanent surgical refashioning of sexual anatomy to resemble that of the appropriate sex.

For transwomen, SRS involves the conversion of penile and scrotal tissue into female genitalia. Most post-operative transwomen report they can achieve orgasm. For transmen, SRS may be limited to chest surgery (removal of breasts) and removal of the uterus and ovaries.

Many FTMs forego genital surgeries for a variety of reasons, including expense and dissatisfaction with the results. Many transwomen also undergo additional procedures, including electrolysis to remove facial and body hair, breast augmentation, Adams Apple reduction, hair transplantation, liposuction and many types of facial surgeries.

It is important to note that not all trans people want to modify their bodies, and that many who do cannot afford the costs of SRS or transgender hormonal therapy

8. What are the Standards of Care?

The Standards of Care are a set of clinical psychological guidelines formulated and periodically updated by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH, formerly known as the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, or HBIGDA) a professional organization devoted to the understanding and treatment of gender identity disorders. The Standards of Care are often used to determine if and how transsexual persons should be treated with hormonal and surgical sex reassignment.

As a prerequisite for sex reassignment surgery, the Standards include the requirement of a Real Life Experience, a one year minimum period during which transsexual persons must be able to live and work full time successfully in their new gender while under the care of a psychotherapist competent with transgender issues. While the Standards of Care can minimize the chance of someone making a mistake, they have been criticized as a “gatekeeper” system.


Source: pflag.org. Content customized to suit Indian audience.
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