What does 'Transgendered' Mean?
Transgendered people are those whose gender identity or gender expression differ from conventional expectations for their physical sex. Gender Identity is one's internal sense of being male or female, which is commonly communicated to others by one's Gender Expression (clothes, hair style, mannerisms, etc.) Although transgendered people have been part of every culture and society in recorded human history, they have only recently become the focus of medical science. Many medical researchers now believe that transgenderism is rooted in complex biological factors that are fixed at birth, and thus it is not a choice but a personal dilemma.
Who are Trans People?
Trans 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 wear the clothing of the opposite sex in order to fully express an inner, cross-gender identity; intersexed persons, (formerly called hermaphrodites); and many other identities too numerous to list here.
It's important to note that the term 'transgendered' 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 'transgendered'. Many post-operative 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.
Who are Crossdressers?
Crossdressers are the largest group of transgendered persons. Although most crossdressers are heterosexual men, there are also gay and bisexual men, as well as lesbians, bisexual and straight women, who crossdress. Most male crossdressers are married and many have children. The vast majority live in secrecy about their transgendered status. Unlike transsexuals, they do not wish to change their physical sex.
Who are Intersexed People ?
Intersex people are born with chromosomal anomalies or ambiguous genitalia. Those with unusual genitalia are often subjected to surgical "normalization" procedures from infancy to adolescence, which usually results in loss of sexual response in adulthood. The Intersexed Society of North America has labeled this practice Infant Genital Mutilation. Some intersexed infants have even been sexually reassigned – without their consent – and later in life develop gender identity issues strikingly similar to those of transsexual people.
What causes transsexualism?
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 female-to-male (FTM) transmen as well as the more familiar 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.
What is gender dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria is the overall 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, and from parental and societal pressure to conform to gender norms. Almost all transgendered people suffer from gender dysphoria in varying degrees. Some transsexual persons discover at an early age that they are unable to live in the gender of their birth sex, but the majority struggle to conform, in spite of intense suffering, until their adult years. To seek relief, transsexual persons enter gender transition.
What is gender transition?
Gender transition is the period during which transsexual persons begin changing their appearances and bodies to match their internal gender identity. Because gender is so visible, transsexuals in transition MUST "out" themselves to their employers, their families, and their friends – literally everyone in their lives. While in transition, they are very vulnerable to discrimination and in dire need of support from family and friends. Hormonal therapy can take several months to many years to effect the physical changes in secondary sexual characteristics that will produce a passable appearance, and some may never pass completely.
What is the Real Life Test?
For transsexual persons seeking Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS), the Real Life Test (also called the Real-Life Experience) is a one‑year minimum period during which they must be able to demonstrate to their psychotherapists their ability to live and work full‑time successfully in their congruent gender. The Real Life Test is a prerequisite for sex reassignment surgery under the Standards of Care.
What are the Standards of Care?
The Standards of Care are a set of guidelines formulated and recently revised by the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA) under which many transsexual persons obtain hormonal and surgical sex reassignment. While the Standards of Care minimize the chance of someone making a mistake, they have been criticized as a “gatekeeper” system. In general, a complete gender transition includes a period of psychotherapy to confirm one’s true gender, the beginning of lifelong hormonal therapy, the Real Life Test, and finally, if desired, sex reassignment surgery.
What is Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)?
SRS is the permanent surgical refashioning of sexual anatomy to resemble that of the appropriate sex. For MTF transsexuals, SRS involves the conversion of penile and scrotal tissue into female genitalia. For FTM transsexuals, it may be limited to just top surgery (breast removal) and sometimes hysterectomy. While many transmen become satisfied with their new male anatomy, most opt out of genital surgeries for a variety of reasons, including the expense and dissatisfaction with the results. Many MTF trans people also undergo additional cosmetic procedures, including electrolysis to remove facial and body hair, breast augmentation, Adams Apple reduction, hair transplantation, liposuction and many types of facial surgeries.