The word “transgender” is an umbrella term that describes those who have a gender that’s different from the sex assigned at birth: male, female, or intersex.
What exactly does it mean to be transgender?
The term transgender can mean different things to different people. There are a number of other labels individuals who are transgender use to describe their gender.
This can be confusing at first, particularly if you or someone you know think they might be transgender. For example, a person who was assigned a female sex at birth and has a male sense of self could be categorized as transgender.A person who was assigned male at birth and has a female sense of self could also be categorized as transgender.Those who are transgender can identify as a woman, man, a combination of both, or something else altogether.The word transgender can also be used in conjunction with other labels to indicate the gender or sex someone knows themselves to be.For example, someone can identify as a transgender man, a transgender woman, or a transgender nonbinary person. Nonbinary is an umbrella term that describes those who have a gender that can’t be exclusively categorized as male or female.
Many trans people experience a feeling of distress which is clinically termed ‘dysphoria’. Dysphoria is experienced differently by different people and it can be both fixed (experienced consistently) and fluid (experienced partially or periodically). Some trans people report that their dysphoria is triggered when their gender is not affirmed by others (sometimes called ‘misgendering’), whilst others report that certain contexts, clothing types or body parts trigger their dysphoria. It is important to acknowledge that not all distress trans people feel may be dysphoria: trans people often bear a load of systemic discrimination which can lead to poorer mental health outcomes:
People Transition to Be True to Themselves
When people make changes to match the way they feel inside, it's called transitioning.Some change their clothing, hair, and name. Some ask others to change the pronouns they use to identify them. (They may choose "he," "she," "they," or even "ze.") Some use hormones or surgery to alter how they look and feel.
Transgender People Can Be Straight, Gay, or Bisexual
Don't assume a trans person is gay. It has nothing to do with the kind of people they have romantic feelings toward. Gender identity is the gender with which you identify," Friedman says. "Sexual orientation is the gender to which you're attracted." Deciding to Let Others Know Is Stressful
When transgender people tell others about their gender identities, it's referred to as "coming out." It's an unveiling of truth, like telling someone your sexual orientation. It's a big step. There's no way for a person to know how others will react.Some people are supportive right away. Others may need time to process the news before they can understand how they feel about it. And some may never be accepting. It can come as a shock, and it's a lot to take in, just as there's a lot that goes into deciding to transition.
People of All Ages Are Transgender
Although some people think they may be transgender in childhood, some don't realize it until they're teens or adults. It's not unusual for someone to come out as transgender after they've had kids or retired. They may feel they couldn't express themselves before, or didn't realize they were trans until later in life.
Transgenderism Isn't a Mental Illness
Many trans people seek counseling, but being transgender isn't a mental illness. Many trans people are depressed or anxious or become socially isolated, but often it's the fear that loved ones will reject them (or have already done so) that bring those feelings. People struggle with anxiety or depression when they feel they can't be who they are," Friedman says. For some, it can lead to clinical depression, alcohol and drug abuse, or other mental health problems that need treatment.
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