So, I had the most amazing opportunity. I was fortunate enough to interact with four amazing human beings. Four amazing people who individually identify somewhere on the spectrum in the trans community. Initially I was a little bit nervous about sharing this post.
One, I feared not being able to effectively share the 3% of what I learned about the lives of people in the trans community. Two, I didn’t know if this post would resonate with people. Regardless, I felt this was so necessary to share.
There are so many misconceptions about people in the trans community from the way they stereotypically look, the way they feel, and how they’re treated by society and the LGBT community. I decided to share this information in hopes of creating allies who would help create safe spaces for transgender people in our society.
Difference between Transgender and Cisgender
Although there are complexities, transgender simply means a person that does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. If you are someone who feels this way, I just want to reaffirm that it’s perfectly okay and that is for you to decide.
If you’re a person who agrees and identifies with the gender assigned to you, then you are cisgender. The variation between the two is just that simple.
Further, within the trans community, there are people who consider themselves to be either binary or non-binary. A binary person is someone who identifies as a man or woman but does not identify with the gender assigned at birth.
For example, a binary trans woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth and did not identify with that gender and decided to share their true identity with the world.
The term non binary can mean different things for different people. It can mean someone who doesn’t identify as a woman, doesn’t identify as a man, or their gender is both feminine and masculine, or neither feminine nor masculine.
At the core, it’s a way to describe someone whose gender identity isn’t exclusively male or female. If you meet someone who identifies as non-binary, it’s so important to ask what their identity means to them and what they feel comfortable with you calling them.
If you think about it even a little, you realize we all have pronouns. He/him/his, she/her/hers, they/them/their – and we all use them every day with people we’re either talking to or talking about.
So why is it difficult for some people to use the correct pronouns when a specific person clearly expressed that’s what they like to be identified as? With many binary individuals, they often identify with he/him pronouns, she/her pronouns, or a combination of the two – he/she/him/her pronouns.
It all depends on their true identity and what makes them feel good about their gender.
With non-binary individuals, using pronouns like she/her or he/him just doesn’t always fit. Although many non-binary people use the pronouns they/them, it’s always best to follow up and kindly and respectfully ask what they prefer to be addressed as.
This is needed because I’ve seen so many scenarios where people just don’t understand something and choose to be ignorant and hurtful to those who don’t fit into societal norms.
But what people don’t realize is that is their normal. When it comes to pronouns, it’s so important to be sensitive and conscious of how you’re using them.
Many trans individuals experience difficulty of not having to just come out with new pronouns, but also having to teach the people closest to them how to use them appropriately and consistently.
It truly helps when you have people in your life who are open and willing to learn because it can be really hard and invalidating for a trans individual when people don’t get their pronouns correct. It can be very exhausting having to constantly correct someone all the time.
‘…sometimes it’s easier to feel sad than to advocate for yourself and explain why that’s important’kya
Don’t get me wrong, people make mistakes and it takes some personal adjustments when having to learn a new set of pronouns. I get it and I’m right there with you. But the reality is, there are people who are disingenuous with pronouns.
Sometimes people misgender the individual requesting the change in pronouns, and makes the other person feel shitty for their errors. It’s not cool to misgender someone and make them feel like they’re the problem – it’s extremely insensitive.
Another way is if a person finds it hard to use specific pronouns when interacting with a non-binary person because they feel like it’s hard to see them other than being a woman/man. Have you ever considered how hard it is for them?
Sometimes you don’t bother to correct people because it’s one or two slipups and you don’t want that to suddenly become the focus of the conversation, because that’s even worse’ – KyaTweet
Gender dysphoria is the emotional distress a person feels when their birth assigned sex and gender does not match their gender identity. No one shares the same exact experience, as it can look very different for each person.
You should never assume that just because someone has dysphoria, they have dysphoria with their entire body. People who identify as transgender have various forms of dysphoria that presents differently for each of them.
For example, specific body parts can be a form of dysphoria for an individual, causing a lot of anxiety and stress rooted in that specific area. Something else that I learned was that dysphoria can change over time.
Imagine being in a room with seven stereos turned all the way up, and as you start turning each one down, you start hearing the others more acutely – that is what dysphoria is like. – KeishaTweet
Hearing that really gave me a better understanding of what dysphoria is like for a person. It was such a powerful moment to know that this is the experience of so many.
I remember her voice expressing how she didn’t start with a lot of dysphoria, but each time she fixed one thing, something else replaced it. I think what was so powerful about that moment was her ability to be so vulnerable and transparent.
I felt lifted knowing that she experienced something that exceeded what she once thought she would never get. This is where gender euphoria comes in. It’s those moments when you feel great about yourself and confirming how you truly feel.
Another misconception is the idea of being in the wrong body. This narrative is only how some trans people feel, not all. Not every trans person feels like they were born in the wrong body. Some people just feel like they need to make some adjustments and their body will reflect who they are as a person and that’s completely valid.
Did they always know that was their identity?
Most trans individuals know there is something wrong or something is off with what they are personally experiencing. The challenge for them was identifying what it was due to the language barrier.
Growing up, they all agreed they had this feeling of uncertainty about the way they felt inside but not having the vocabulary to describe it. A lot of people who identified as trans seemed to be able to identify exactly who they were when they learned the word transgender in their early/mid-twenties. It can vary for each person, but often enough it’s your college years when you have the opportunity to explore who you are.
For nonbinary people, it can potentially be a little bit more challenging in owning the fact that they’re transgender. For some, they battle with the misconception that to be trans, you have to be a boy or girl.
There was a lack of representation available for these identities; aside from the negative ones we typically saw on Jerry Springer. For non-binary trans identities, there’s also a lack of support from the LGBT community and the trans community.
Many people would express that non binary trans people aren’t apart or welcome in the trans community. They felt that non binary people would take away access to hormones and surgery opportunities from people that deserved it. It was believed that you have to have an official diagnosis of gender dysphoria to be a trans person.
This post was so important for me to share because it allowed me to address a few stigmas involving the transgender community and to also educate you about what I learned.
Prior to this conversation, I knew very little of what it meant to be trans and what it looked like for a person. I truly appreciate that there are people who are out here willing to teach me and others about their experiences.
Here are a few more things I feel it’s important to share:
- Gender identity does not directly correlate with sexual orientation.
- Gender identity is all about how you perceive and identify yourself; this is often done with gender expression.
- Sexual orientation is the emotional/physical/mental/spiritual attraction to other people.
- We need to get comfortable with people and ideas that may not necessarily conform to societal behaviors and characteristics.
- Transgender people do not all look one way; they are not visibly trans.
- Gender dysphoria is not a mental condition called Gender Identity Disorder. Many trans people do experience dysphoria and emotional distress because of prejudice behavior they experience within their community, families, and society.
- There is not one trans experience. Contain your curiosity, be conscious, and respectful of the people you interact with.
- One last thing, we will never truly understand the experiences of a trans person and that’s something we need to accept. It’s not an experience that can be given unless you, yourself identify as someone who is trans.
Be open to understanding someone else’s experience. At the very least, respect the person next to you. How would you feel if you constantly felt overlooked and ridiculed for just being yourself?
At the end of the day, we are all humans, and so are trans people. We are fortunate to not experience being misgendered. When we disregard someone else’s gender because of our lack of acceptance, we are essentially oppressing them.
We need to do better, and be better. It takes a lot for a person to own who they are and then own it publicly. The best thing we can do is be allies and validate their ability to come into their true self.