Individuals who are transsexual or transgender basically feel as if they have been born in the wrong body. It is estimated that between 2 and 5 percent of the population in the United States experiences some form of transgender tendencies or gender dysphoria. According to Amnesty.org, there, there could be as many as 1.5 million individuals who are transgender in the combined European nations. Individuals who experience transgender issues may eventually choose to undergo reassignment surgery to complete the gender transformation and become the sex they believe they were born to be.
What Does “Transgender” Mean?
A transgender or transsexual person is one who believes they were born the wrong sex or in the wrong body. As children, our gender normally is what defines a big part of who we are. Boys are boys and girls are girls. Most boys do the things associated with being male, while girls associate with more female pursuits. A transgender individual is the opposite. Many gay or lesbian individuals have no desire to change their physical nature. Others, however, physically, mentally and emotionally have a strong desire to make actual changes to their bodies that will allow them to be exactly who they believe themselves to be.
Transgender individuals are normally considered to be homosexual. It is estimated that 1 out of every 34,000 female births will explore the option of sexual reassignment surgery, while 1 out of every 12,000 male births will choose surgical modification.
It must be noted that not all gay and lesbian people go so far as to say they were born in the wrong body. The majority are quite happy with themselves, just the way they are and believe no modifications are necessary.
The Transgender Violence Tracking Portal brings to light frightening statistics that pertain to transgender individuals and the violent behavior they receive from others. One thing that is seen repeatedly is the intensity of the violence. In most cases, when a transgender person is the victim of a violent murder, overkill is common. A person who has been shot, will not only be shot one time, but several. The same is true of a stabbing victim. Instead of one, there will be many stab wounds.
A few of the most common transgender statistics include:
- There are approximately 700,000 transgender individuals in the United States.
- There is substantial overlap between gay and lesbian numbers and the number of individuals who claim to be transgender.
- The majority of transgender individuals will eventually seek some form of modification procedure to help them feel more male or female, depending on their birth gender.
- Gender modification includes the use of hormones to create certain physical characteristics such as facial hair, body hair, and the creation of breasts. Surgical procedures help make the body look more like the sex the person has chosen.
Much of the fear and hatred towards transgender, gay and lesbian individuals stems from misguided information and religious beliefs that have been in place for hundreds of years. The fact is, there are only two or three religions that have such a violent reaction to homosexuality. In other cultures, queer individuals are generally accepted as a normal, productive people within the community.
Most Native American tribes revere gays because they have the ability to see both male and female perspectives. Because of this, they are generally taken care of and allowed to be exactly who they are without fear of attack or ridicule.
Chaz Bono is the one of the most recognized advocates for transgender/transsexual individuals. When asking the question, “What are transgenders?”, we have to first look at the entire picture of homosexuality. As a transgender woman, Chaz lived a life in which he was not comfortable. The decision to choose gender reassignment gave him the opportunity to be who he felt he was born to be, both inside and out. Because of his celebrity status, it gave him the perfect opportunity to educate others on what being transgender sexuality really means.
A person’s gender identity starts to be established the minute they are born. Boys are dressed in blue. Girls are dressed in pink. Many children explore roles associated with the opposite gender. It is part of growing up. When children begin to actively associate with activities of the opposite sex, they can be bullied or harassed by their peers for being queer or gay.
As a child grows, their gender continues to influence how they are perceived by others. With the increase in public awareness about transgender individuals, gender identity plays a much smaller role in how a person is perceived. While certain levels of bias still exist, many individuals are able to live the life they want without overwhelming opposition.
The public rarely hears of transgender children simply because most parents don’t want others to think their children may be homosexual. This creates problems in school settings, because children are often forced to do things that are gender appropriate for their perceived sex. If they go outside of those parameters, they become the victims of ridicule, physical and verbal harassment and bullying. Children who do not comply with the norm are often labeled as troublemakers.
As a child grows and continues to explore the world around them, parents who are exceptionally open-minded allow their children to choose what activities, hobbies and apparel they like without placing gender specific boundaries on them. A child who is allowed to follow their own intuition will often times lead them back to exactly who they are. Inhibiting this process can result in depression, identity issues and low self-esteem.
Children are naturally curious and will often explore everything in their world, including sexual and gender identity. For most children, this is a stage that only lasts until their curiosity is satisfied. Children who are truly transgender will normally continue to do what interests them if they are allowed to. Depending on the child, it can take several years before a person can be positive of their true sexual nature.
Accepting Transgender Individuals
It is quite common for people to pigeonhole all gays, lesbians and transgender individuals into one large group. Although they have many similarities, they are two distinct and separate sets of individuals. While some transgender individuals are gay, not all gay or lesbian individuals are transgender. The slight overlap occurs when the transgender individual takes their sexuality a step further and takes concrete action towards making their physical, mental and emotional natures the same.
As a society, acceptance is often overlooked by religious or racial concepts. Many countries, especially Sweden and the Netherlands, are very accepting of the gay and lesbian community, including transgender individuals. In fact, Sweden is known for its surgical procedures for sexual reassignment that have become popular worldwide.
The United States, a country that takes great pride in offering its citizens many of the most important freedoms, has, for years, banned same sex marriage. Only recently have same sex and transgender couples been allowed to get married or live as husband and wife, without worrying about breaking the law or facing undue harassment.
Learning acceptance is something that must be nurtured at a young age. Prejudice and hatred are taught. They are not inherent to a person’s nature. Children who are taught to accept others are less likely to bully or harass classmates. Parents and teachers who choose to address the issue of what causes a person to be transgender, gay or lesbian need to do so in a way they are comfortable with. Children are extremely resilient and often understand more than what they are given credit for. Let them ask questions. If the parent does not have all of the answers, find a counselor or other healthcare professional who can talk directly to the child.