Trans Day of Visibility
Transgender people come from all walks of life. We are dads and mums, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. We are your co-workers, and your neighbours. We are 7-year-old children and 70-year-old grandparents. We are a diverse community, representing all racial, ethnic and faith backgrounds.
What does it mean to be transgender?
Transgender (Trans) or Transsexuality is an umbrella term for anyone whose internal experience of gender does not match the gender they were assigned at birth. A popular image of transgender people is that of a "woman trapped in a man's body" and vice versa, but this isn't entirely accurate. A more accurate description is that transgender people are born into bodies which society does not associate with their gender, or were assigned a sex that does not match their gender.
How does someone know if they are transgender?
Transgender people experience their transgender identity in a variety of ways and may become aware of their transgender identity at any age. Some can trace their transgender identities and feelings back to their earliest memories. They may have vague feelings of “not fitting in” with people of their assigned sex or specific wishes to be something other than their assigned sex. Others become aware of their transgender identities or begin to explore and experience gender-nonconforming attitudes and behaviours during adolescence or much later in life. Some embrace their transgender feelings, while others struggle with feelings of shame or confusion. Those who transition later in life may have struggled to fit in adequately as their assigned sex only to later face dissatisfaction with their lives. Some transgender people, transsexuals in particular, experience intense dissatisfaction with their sex assigned at birth, physical sex characteristics, or the gender role associated with that sex. These individuals often seek gender-affirming treatments.
The current transgender flag was designed by Trans woman Monica Helms in 1999. It has five stripes in total from top to bottom: blue, pink, white, and pink, blue.
It first appeared a pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona in 2000.
- The blue stripes represent men as blue is the traditional colour for baby boys.
- The pink stripes represent women as pink is the traditional colour for baby girls.
- The white represents those who don't neatly fit into the gender binary and intersex people, as well as representing the crossover between genders that many Trans people feel they undergo in transitioning.
Helms describe the meaning of the transgender pride flag as follows:
"The stripes at the top and bottom are light blue, the traditional colour for baby boys. The stripes next to them are pink, the traditional colour for baby girls. The stripe in the middle is white, for those who are intersex, transitioning or consider themselves having a neutral or undefined gender. The pattern is such that no matter which way you fly it, it is always correct, signifying us finding correctness in our lives.”
Sex and Gender
Sex is assigned at birth, refers to one’s biological status as either male or female and is associated primarily with physical attributes such as chromosomes, hormone prevalence and external and internal anatomy. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for boys and men or girls and women. These influence the ways that people act, interact and feel about themselves.
Gender identity is one's personal experience of one's own gender. Gender identity can correlate with assigned sex at birth or can differ from it. All societies have a set of gender categories that can serve as the basis of the formation of a person's social identity in relation to other members of society. Below are some of the gender identities that relate to transgender, not all gender identities will be listed. Find out more- http://gender.wikia.com/wiki/Gender_Wiki
- Trans man - Trans man (Or FtM) is a term which describes someone who is both a man and transgender/transsexual. Trans men were assigned female at birth, but their gender identity is male. They may be referred to as Trans masculine. Some trans men wish to transition in order to change their sex characteristics and gender expression to become more masculine.
- Trans woman - Trans woman is a term which describes someone who is both a woman and transgender/transsexual. Trans women were assigned male at birth but their gender identity is female. They may be referred to as trans feminine. In the past, trans women were sometimes referred to as MTF (Male To Female), but this label is no longer used as it implies that trans women were originally male. Some trans women wish to transition in order to change their sex characteristics and gender expression to become more feminine.
- Agender - Agender is a term which can be literally translated as 'without gender'. It can be seen either as a non-binary gender identity or as a statement of not having a gender identity. People who identify as agender may describe themselves as one or more of the following:
- Genderless or lacking gender
- Gender neutral. This may be meant in the sense of being neither man nor woman yet still having a gender
- Neutrois or neutrally gendered
- Having an unknown or undefinable gender; not aligning with any gender
- Having no other words that fit their gender identity
- Not knowing or not caring about gender as an internal identity and/or as an external label
- Deciding not to label their gender.
- Identifying more as a person than any gender at all.
Many agender people also identify as genderqueer, non-binary and/or transgender. However, some agender people prefer to avoid these terms, especially transgender, as they feel this implies identifying as a gender other than their assigned gender, while they in fact do not identify as any gender at all. In fact, the term agender is considered an oxymoron among many. Since it is a lack of gender, some feel that it should not be labeled as a gender at all.
- Androgyne - Androgyne is a non-binary gender identity associated with androgyny. Androgynes have a gender which is simultaneously feminine and masculine, although not necessarily in equal amounts. Western society currently recognizes no set gender roles for androgynes and because androgynes have a non-binary gender identity, they might also identify as genderqueer and/or transgender. Androgynes can be of any sexual or romantic orientation.
- Non-binary - Non-binary gender describes any gender identity which does not fit the male and female binary. Those with non-binary genders can feel that they:
- Have an androgynous (both masculine and feminine) gender identity
- Have an identity between male and female, such as intergender
- Have a neutral or unrecognized gender identity, such as agender, neutrois, or most xenogenders
- Have multiple gender identities, such as bigender or pangender.
- Have a gender identity which varies over time, known as genderfluid.
Non-binary people may also identify as transgender and/or transsexual. The label genderqueer has a lot of overlap with non-binary. Non-binary is often seen as the preferred term, as "queer" may be used as a transphobic insult.
Non-binary people may wish to transition so that their gender expression more closely reflects their internal identity. Many non-binary people wish to appear androgynous and adopt unisex names, gender-neutral titles such as Mx. and/or gender-neutral pronouns, but others prefer to express themselves in ways which are traditionally seen as masculine or feminine or to mix aspects of the two.
- Neutrois - A non-binary gender identity which is often associated with a "neutral" or "null" gender. It may also be associated with genderlessness and shares many similarities with agender, people who consider themselves neutrally gendered or genderless, but some may identify as both, while others may prefer one term or the other. Neutrois people may experience dysphoria and wish to transition. Often Neutrois people prefer their gender expression to be gender neutral or androgynous, though this may vary from person to person. Some Neutrois people wish to medically transition to remove all sex characteristics, but others only wish to remove specific characteristics or do not desire surgery at all.
- Bi-gender - Bi-gender is a gender identity which can be literally translated as 'two genders' or 'double gender'. Bi-gender people experience exactly two gender identities, either simultaneously or varying between the two. These two gender identities could be male and female but could also include non-binary identities. For other identities for those who experience multiple genders, please see multi gender. Bi-gender people may also identify as multi gender, non-binary and/or transgender. If a bi-gender person feels that their identity changes over time or depending on circumstance they may also identify as genderfluid, which describes any person whose gender identity varies over time.
- Genderqueer - Genderqueer is an umbrella term with a similar meaning to non-binary. It can be used to describe any gender identities other than man and woman, thus outside of the gender binary. Genderqueer identities can include one or more of the following:
- Both man and woman
- Neither man nor woman (genderless, agender, Neutrois)
- Moving between genders (gender fluid)
- Third gender or other-gender
- Those who do not or cannot place a name to their gender
- Having an overlap of, or blurred lines between, gender identity and sexual orientation
Some genderqueer people use that as their only description of their gender identity, while others also identify as another gender identity such as androgyne, bi-gender etc. Genderqueer people may also identify as transgender and/or nonbinary. Some genderqueer people may wish to transition, either medically or by changing their name and/or pronouns to suit their preferred gender expression. Genderqueer people can have any sexual orientation. Many genderqueer individuals see gender and sex as separable aspects of a person and sometimes identify as a male woman, a female man, or a male/female/intersex genderqueer.
- Pangender - Pangender is a non-binary gender identity which refers to a vast and diverse multiplicity of genders in the same individual that can extend infinitely, always within the person's own culture and life experience. This gender experience can be either simultaneously or over time. Pangender is a multigender that is very expansive and unspecific, meaning that there are so many genders that it’s difficult or impossible to list them all. There is no maximum limit to the amount of genders. Being pangender is feeling an entire infinite gender spectrum that is possible for an individual to have. The pangender experience can go beyond the current knowledge of genders.
- Gender Fluid- Gender fluid is a gender identity which refers to a gender which varies over time. A gender fluid person may at any time identify as male, female, neutrois, any other non-binary identity or some combination of identities. Their gender can also vary at random or vary in response to different circumstances. Gender fluid people may also identify as multigender, non-binary and/or transgender. Gender fluid people who feel that the strength of their gender(s) change(s) over time, or that they are sometimes agender may identify as gender flux.
Transition refers to the process of changing one's sex characteristics, gender expression and/or lifestyle in order to better align with one's gender identity. Any transgender person may wish to transition, including those with non-binary identities. However, transition is not necessary to be transgender, and some transgender people prefer not to transition for a variety of reasons.
There are three major kinds of transition:
- Medical transition: Changing one's sex characteristics through medical procedures, including surgery and hormone therapy. This may require a diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder and/or Social transition.
- Social transition: Changing how one is viewed by others by making one's gender identity public, which may also include changing names and asking others to use different pronouns. Being stealth is a form of social transition in which one's gender identity is the only gender one is known as.
- Legal transition: Changing one's legal gender. This may require proof that a medical and/or social transition has already taken place.
Each of these types can involve many separate steps and every person will have different desires for their individual transition, some may only want to transition socially, others may wish to take hormones but not have surgery, etc. Depending on the kind of transition desired, the process can take several years to complete.
Medical transition is a part of transition in which a transgender person undergoes medical treatments so that their sex characteristics better match their gender identity. Medical transition can be described as feminising, masculinising or gender neutralizing, where sex characteristics are removed or made androgynous, which may be desired by non-binary people, especially those who are agender or neutrois.
Medical transition generally requires the approval of a doctor before treatment can begin. This often means that one must be diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder before being able to transition medically. Some doctors require a social transition to have been completed for at least a year before surgery can take place.
For trans men, or FTM, medical transition may include any of the following:
- hormone therapy (to create masculine characteristics such as a deeper voice, facial hair growth, muscle growth, redistribution of body fat away from hips and breasts, not getting a period, etc.)
- male chest reconstruction, or “top surgery” (removal of breasts and breast tissue)
- hysterectomy (removal of internal female reproductive organs such as the ovaries and uterus)
- phalloplasty (construction of a penis using skin from other parts of your body)
- metoidioplasty (surgery that causes your clitoris to work more like a penis, along with hormone treatment to make your clitoris grow larger)
For trans women, or MTF, medical transition may include any of the following:
- hormone therapy (to create feminine characteristics such as less body hair, breasts, redistribution of body fat toward hips and breasts, etc.)
- breast augmentation (implants)
- orchiectomy (removal of testes)
- laser hair removal (to remove hair from your face or other parts of your body)
- tracheal shave (making your Adam’s apple smaller)
- facial feminization surgery (create smaller, more feminine facial features)
- penile inversion vaginoplasty (creation of a vagina by inverting penile skin)
Social transition is the social portion of a transition, in which a transgender person makes others aware of their gender identity. Social transition is one of the easiest to achieve, as unlike medical transition or legal transition it can be completed by the individual within their social group. However, it can also be daunting as there is a risk of a transphobic reaction, ranging from intentional misgendering to serious danger. Many people choose to transition in different social groups at different points in time. For instance, someone may have socially transitioned with their friendship group, but not yet informed anyone in their workplace of their true gender.
Social transitioning may include:
- coming out to your friends and family as transgender
- asking people to use pronouns (she/her, he/him, they/them) that match your gender identity
- going by a different name
- dressing/grooming in ways that match your gender identity
There is no "how to" guide on coming out. Everyone is different which means everyone’s experience is different. Some think it’s easy and some think it’s not - the only thing we can do is tell them, whether that is friends or family its important you do it right. The best thing anyone can do is to prepare themselves, there are several outcomes on coming out and non that we can control. Preparing yourself is important as some take this news better than others.
Tips on coming out:
- Be prepared: not only be prepared for the outcome but also how your going to come out, if they don’t understand something explain it to them, have all your information ready before hand.
- Take your time: take your time it’s not a race, if it’s better to tell one person at a time that’s ok, gradually coming out is better than feeling pressured. Maybe tell a close friend before your family.
- Read how others came out: RUComingOut has over 300 real life coming out stories as well as interviews from celebrities. Most people who come out go through similar fears and anxieties.
- Think about the positives: It is very easy to let the anxieties and fears around coming out completely take over the experience. But remember, coming out is one of the most amazing things you will ever do. You will finally be able to be your whole self and it WILL change your life.
- Give people time: You may have had years to get to a place where you are comfortable with being lesbian, gay or bisexual. Just think though, those people who you will be telling will have a split second to give you a reaction. Give them chance to digest the news. It may come as a complete surprise. Surprise and shock doesn’t mean disapproval. They may have questions, so pre-empt what these could be and be prepared to support them too. They may need your support as much as you need theirs!
- Start living: You will be amazed at how free you will feel once you have come out. Obviously the experience is different for everyone and at times it may not go as well as you’d like. Just remember that you are doing the right thing, you are allowing yourself to be who were always meant to be and this means you can start living YOUR life! Remember to create that safety net around you though, just in case things don’t go exactly to plan.
The Proud Trust
Number (general enquiries): 01616603347
Number (Afternoon Tea- Trans Youth): 07834168128
Find out the UK Pride dates- https://pinkuk.com/events/gay-pride-2018
Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV)- 31st March 2018
Trans Day of Remembrance (TDOR)- 20th November 2018