A person’s gender identity appears to be more important now than ever. As certain issues for the lesbian and gay communities have been settled, transgender is coming more to the forefront in the media. What is transgender? The word transgender means noting or relating to a person whose gender identity does not correspond to that person’s biological sex assigned at birth. Gender identity is often used while explaining what transgender means in terms of a person’s sexuality. Your gender identity is your internal sense of being male or female.
Transgender people have been documented in Western and Eastern cultures from the ancient past to the modern world. Scientists are not sure what causes a person to identify as transgender, but they have some theories about causes an individual to lead a life as transgender. These include genetic influences, prenatal hormone levels, early experiences and experiences later on in adolescence and adulthood can possibly lead to issues with a person’s gender identity.
Some scientists have devalued claims of transgender being a mental disorder. Mental disorders are related to stress and disability; whereas, most people who identify as transgender do not experience such symptoms. However, transgender people do suffer from other problems such as trying to find affordable resources for counseling, hormone therapy, medical procedures and social support.
Many challenges arise from the lack of acceptance within society, and direct or indirect experiences with discrimination and assault. Anti-discrimination laws in most U.S. cities do not protect transgender people. Most of them experience discrimination in the workplace, education, the legal system and their own families, and they may find discrimination with housing and health care. Discrimination can range from glances and glares to discomfort from pointedly offensive questions to actual hate crimes against individuals or property.
Most transgender people usually work up to living as a full-time member of their preferred gender by making small changes over long periods of time. For everyone in the transgender community, every transition and identities are different. They can also become aware of not feeling satisfied with their original sex at any age.
Some social changes that appear to be common for a transgender person are adopting an appearance of their desired gender by changing the way they dress, hormone therapy treatments, undergoing medical treatments to modify their body and even changing their sex on identity documents if possible.
However, a transgender’s sexual orientation does not change. A person’s sexual orientation refers to an individual’s enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to another person. So, transgender individuals still identity with the sexual orientation they had before their change. They can identify as straight, gay, bisexual, lesbian or asexual. Being transgender does not mean that they do not have sexual preferences.
Writer and visual artist, Cooper Lee Bomardier resides in the South Shore of Boston. He is transgender and eloquently sums up what it means to be transgender.
“It isn’t about ‘becoming’ another person – I already know who I am – I just want my body to reflect that. It’s not like I’m suddenly changing from the person you’ve always known; this is more about your willingness to see who I’ve always been,” said Bomardier.