Have you ever met a transgender or transsexual person? It's possible you have but just did not know that the person you were speaking to was trans. In fact most people have no idea what a transgender person is or what they are all about. There are many myths surrounding the transgender person; causing them endless problems with people and society in general. The truth is most of the things said about transgender people simply are not true. People make things up out of fear and understanding; making the lives of transgender people that much harder. If you are reading this article you are already a step ahead of the general population and perhaps you can help us debunk some of the myths people seem to want to perpetuate against transgender people. Here are some of the most common myths about transgender people and how it affects us on a daily basis.
- It's just a phase: This is normally the myth that we run into first; generally from family and friends. They seem to assume that we have no idea what we are or have lost any sense of reality and will "snap out of it" eventually and "come to your senses". This is a myth; we know what we are and how we feel better than you do. Hearing this just serves to tell us that you don't understand or take us seriously; sad and very insulting. You might think that you have our best interests in mind, but you don't; if you did then listening and an attempt to understand would follow. We know what we are from a very young age and this feeling of being in the wrong body does not fade over time; if anything it gets stronger as you age.
- Female to male Transgender people do not exist: Well, the person writing this article is a male to female transsexual so therefore we do indeed exist in today's world (and yesterdays world for that matter). Both male to female and female to male transsexuals exist and live productive, fulfilling lives (when possible in our society); bringing their talents and gifts to the table just like anyone else.
- Transsexuals are the same as Transvestites: This is also a myth, there is a world of difference between a transsexual woman and a male identified person who likes to dress up in women's clothing for sexual gratification. Transvestites do not want to take hormones or transition to the opposite gender they were born with. For a transsexual or transgender woman, dressing is just something you do normally every day; but for transvestites dressing like a woman is fun, exciting and they get a sexual thrill from it. Being transsexual (besides the word sex being in the word) has nothing to do with sex, but has everything to do with GENDER and feeling uncomfortable in the gender you were born with; it just doesn't seem right. Although both Transsexual and Transvestites are both considered to be transgender, there is a great big difference between the two.
- Transsexuals are really gay men: This idea could not be more wrong. Gay men do not wish to transition into womanhood, take hormones or get gender reassignment surgery. Gay men are very much men and wish to remain so; unlike their transsexual counterpart that wishes to change his or her gender to the opposite sex, feeling more comfortable that way. This myth is not only perpetuated by the straight community, but also is pervasive in the gay and lesbian community. Ironically you would think there would be support from the entire LGBT (Lesbian, Gay. Bisexual and Transgender) community but not so. In fact sometimes the discrimination comes hard and fast from the LGBT population and can be just as nasty or even more so than the ideas about us that come from the cisgender people we come across. Being transgender is about GENDER and not SEXUAL ORIENTATION! There are transgender gay, lesbian, bisexual, Asexual and polyamorous people in this world so you better get used to it.
- Transgender people do it for the sexual thrill of it all: Again, being transgender has nothing to do with your sexual orientation nor sex at all. It's true that transgender people may experience sex differently than their cisgender counterparts; but that is not why they wish to transition into the opposite sex that they were born with. Transitioning is done to bring in line your gender identity with your body in order to resolve the symptoms of Gender Identity Dysphoria (the condition in which a person does not feel that their gender identity matches their bodies which causes significant problems and can lead to things like depression, drug abuse and suicide).
- It is a choice: This could not be more wrong! Male or female cisgender people do not choose to be male or female, they simply are. The same logic follows for transgender or transsexual people because they were born that way and did not choose the incredibly hard life of a gender non-conforming person. For some reason a lot of "straight" people seem to think that other choose to be gay, lesbians, transsexual or bisexual simply for the thrill. This makes absolutely no sense as anyone in their right mind would not choose to be beaten, persecuted, denied health care, discriminated against and fired for being something other than "the norm". Would you suddenly decide to be something that would cost you your friends and family and put your life in danger? The only real choice that transgender people have is to a) end up dead or b) transition into the gender that you most identify with.
- Children are too young to know they are trans: I personally knew that I was different than the other kids in my class at around age seven. My classmates also noticed something different about me and rather than accepting me they immediately began to persecute me for being gay. I knew that I wasn't gay at the time but did not have the words to express it and they would have fallen on deaf ears anyway. Once people have made up their minds about you there is nothing that can change that but themselves; and I have found a lot of cisgender people are most comfortable persecuting others using various techniques. Children know better about what they are than anyone around them; they just wish the adults would listen and put away their transphobic fears! However the urge to make everyone conform to gender norms is pervasive and very damaging to both the transgender child and adult. Many transgender children wait until they are adults to transition because they were not allowed to do so, the circumstances were not right or they did not have the opportunity to do so. I transitioned later in life because when I was seven and realized what I was someone who was not comfortable being a boy, my raging alcoholic father would beat it out of me in between slugs of Gibsons finest whiskey. It was not safe for me to transition and when I became an adult it took me years to get past the torture and brainwashing experience I had with that man and the rest of his family before I was emotionally stable enough to transition into the woman I was meant to be. Even then I was brutally attacked both verbally and legally by my "family"; having also been cut off from any contact with them or any other member of my family. From brothers all the way to distant cousins, not a one came to my defense. They took my son from me because I am a transsexual!
- Transgender means "chopping it off": Gender reassignment surgery does not involve chopping anything off! Vaginoplasty is a procedure that converts a male to female transsexuals penis into a vagina; it is not chopped off. That being said there are many kinds of transgender or transsexual woman out there; some of them want to keep their penis, some of them only have the Orchyectomy (removal of the testicles in order to eliminate testosterone) but leaving the penis untouched. All of these transgender women were born male and transitioned into womanhood without having to get the bottom surgery. It's up to how each person feels and not how society says what a woman should be. Gender is in your mind, not your pants and there are many more things that make a woman or a man other than their genitalia.
These are just a few of the many myths about transgender people that we have to face. All of these ideas are incredibly illogical and serve only to subjugate and harm a very beautiful and talented part of our culture. Where it comes from is fear, which leads to hatred and eventually violence. Transgender and transsexual women are picked off almost on a daily basis and no one bats an eye. In fact discrimination, harassment, abuse and violence toward transgender people seems to be an accepted norm in the general population. Evil perpetuates evil; and evil is what it is.