1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Transgender FAQ

Discussion in 'Family and Personal Living' started by Jaymes, Feb 14, 2007.

  1. Jaymes

    Jaymes The cake is a lie

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,759
    Ratings:
    +1,039
    NOTE: The OP for this become too long, so I have continued this thread here.

    Trans-what?
    Transgender and transsexual are two of the most confusing terms to people; even those in the GLBTQ community. Transsexual is generally used to refer to someone who takes steps to undergo surgery and hormone therapy, while transgender is a broader term that can refer to anyone who thinks their external or assigned gender doesn’t reflect their internal gender.

    Transsexual... that's like hermaphrodites, right?
    No. Most transgender/sexual people were born with an otherwise average body for the sex they were born into. Intersexed people are a completely different ballpark, and something I'm not sure I know quite enough about to add to the FAQ. :) Also, the medical community has started to lean away from the word "hermaphrodite" and towards the word "intersexed" to describe people with ambiguous genitalia.

    So you’re really a man/woman pretending to be a woman/man?
    No, no, no! People seem to be under this impression a lot. Given the way trans issues are presented in the media (Jerry Springer, anyone?), it’s easy to think this. But we’re not pretending anything; we’re being ourselves.

    But if your sex is male/female, doesn’t that make you a man/woman?
    Sociology makes a clear distinction between male and female and man and woman. Male and female typically refers to the genes you’re born with, while man and woman is the gender role society expects of you. The gender role someone does (or doesn’t) fall into is independent of sex.

    How do you know you’re a man/woman?
    How do you know you are? ;) This is probably one of the most difficult things to explain to non-trans people. Some trans people don’t know that they’re a man/woman, just that they’re not a woman/man. Other trans people have known from the time they were young that they’re a man/woman, even though their parents and society tried to convince them otherwise. It really just varies from person to person.

    Are you sure you’re not just gay?
    Some of us are gay, yes. Others are bi, straight, and everything in between. Gender expression is completely independent of sexuality.

    So what am I supposed to call you?
    My name would be nice. If someone corrects you on their name, don’t get into an argument about it. It can take some getting used to if you’re used to calling someone by another name, but complying and using the name they ask you to use is the best (and most supportive) thing you could do.

    What about pronouns? He? She? It?
    Please, not “it”! “It” has been used for a long time as a dehumanizing word, and unless someone asks you to call them that, it’s generally seen as very rude to do so. As for “he” and “she”: Whatever the person asks you to use. It’s plain rude to use a masculine pronoun when asked to use a feminine one, or vice versa. It’d be like me calling you “she” when you like to be called “he”.

    My friend is trans. How can I support him/her?
    One of the best things you can do would be to treat them just like any other friend you have. Making it clear that you're there for them if they want to vent or anything is a great help, too. Just being there for them is probably going to be a huge help; the world, unfortunately, isn't composed of people as accepting as you guys, and it can be frustrating and wear down on even the strongest of people. Don't push it if they don't want to talk, though.

    I also want to toss this out here since I know it happens to so many people in the trans community: It's usually considered very bad manners to introduce someone as "Soandso, my trans friend." Slipping up on pronouns and making a big deal out of it can be just as bad. Some trans people don't mind being open about being trans, but unless someone tells you otherwise it's safe to assume they don't want you outing them to everyone they meet. Being out is their decision to make, not yours.

    So why do you want to change your body? Can't you just get over it and live with the one you're in?
    Let me sum this up in one word: No. To be more specific: Most of the time, no. Some trans people do elect to not have hormones or surgery, but many do.

    I think not feeling at home in your own body because of something like your genitals and secondary sex characteristics is kind of hard to explain to someone that's never felt it. For me it was the constant reminder in the back of my mind that I shouldn't have breasts, that it was just weird for people to call me Ms. and ma'am, and that I just shouldn't be in the women's restroom, since that's for women. It doesn't stop. Pretty much any time someone says something that implies I'm a woman--and until you're uncomfortable with it and realize how much people say things like that, I don't think you realize just how often people do--it makes me uncomfortable. Any time I'm aware I have breasts (which is almost all the time, except when I'm lying down), I'm uncomfortable. Any time I talk and a girl's voice comes out, I'm uncomfortable. Any time I see myself in the mirror I'm uncomfortable. I could name a hundred more things and still have things left over. That's not something you can just "get over".

    So what causes transsexuality? Is it how you're raised? Or because of abuse?
    Short answer? Nobody knows. The clinical term used for it is gender identity disorder, by the way. In the past it was thought that gender identity disorder was caused solely by psychological factors, like stress, but some recent studies indicate that hormones in the womb or genetic factors may influence it. As of now, however, there is no concrete evidence in either direction.

    However, the idea that how you're raised causes it (especially abuse) doesn't apply to even a minority of transgender/sexual people. Remember, we were raised a guys/girls and think ourselves to be something else. ;) I can personally tell you I wasn't abused by any of my relatives or the people that watched me, and I was definitely raised as a girl, albeit a tomboy girl.

    Common trans*-related vocabulary:

    Gender - what's 'between the ears' rather than between the legs, so to speak. How a person percieves themselves in terms of masculinity and femininity or anything in between.
    Sex - chromosome types. XX, XY, XO, XXX, XXY, etc.
    Cisgender - literally "on the same side of gender". Used to refer to people that aren't transgender/sexual.
    Transman, transguy, etc - a person declared female at birth who identifies as male.
    Transwoman, transgirl, etc - a person declared male at birth who identifies as female.
    Genderqueer - someone who crosses gender lines. May or may not identify with one or more genders.
    Gender-neutral - someone who identifies with neither gender.
    Tranny - This is not a word you should call someone unless they tell you it's okay. It's a derogatory term for trans-people, sort of similar to "***" or "dyke".

    Links of interest:

    Gender Education and Advocacy: Distributed Gender Education - This site contains a variety of .pdf files on transgender issues and information. I found Gender Variance: A Primer to be particularly informative.

    Transgender - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - Although Wiki can be changed to add misleading information, this is a great page for definitions of different trans-related terms.

    Rethinking Gender: What Makes Us Male or Female? - Newsweek Health - MSNBC.com - This is a great article on gender and transgender by Newsweek.

    Main Page - T-Vox - T-Vox is a transgender wikipedia and has most every topic relating to transgender/sexuality on it.

    Books of Interest:

    Gender Outlaw - Kate Bornstein
    Orlando - Virginia Woolf
    Mom, I Need to Be a Girl - [SIZE=-1]Evelyn D. Lindenmuth. Available online in a pdf file.
    Men as Women, Women as Men: Changing Gender in Native American Cultures - Sabine Lang and John L. Vantine
    [/SIZE]
    Movies of Interest:

    Transamerica
    Boys Don't Cry
    A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Arujuo Story
    Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    Ma Vie En Rose
    Southern Comfort
     
    • Like Like x 6
  2. Katzpur

    Katzpur Not your average Mormon

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2005
    Messages:
    29,451
    Ratings:
    +5,417
    Religion:
    LDS Christian
    Thanks for all of this information, Jensa. I think you need to make this thread a sticky one. The statement I just quoted was the best one of all!
     
  3. lizskid

    lizskid BANNED

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2006
    Messages:
    4,281
    Ratings:
    +474
    Very interesting! Thanks!

    We had a student come through our elementary several years ago who referred to himself as she, meaningfully. He identified as female all along the way. I often wonder how he is doing and if he is attempting a transition now. I truly think information like your is helpful. It was difficult to be an advocate for him back then because the other teachers were so thrown, and perhaps disgusted, by it that they could not hear what I was trying to say...which was, don't tell this kid NO you cannot do this, tell him how to survive in the school setting(socially, assignments, the whole bit) and let him know it's ok to be what you are. He had very little, if any, support at home, and I was always afraid he'd kill himself eventually...he now lives elsewhere, and I don't know where. I pray he is well, however he is living his life.
     
  4. Jaymes

    Jaymes The cake is a lie

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,759
    Ratings:
    +1,039
    Thanks you guys. :) I want to emphasize that if anyone has any questions whatsoever, don't be embarassed about asking them. Fire away. Heck, if they're too mature for the general forums, make a thread in the Eros room and I'll answer it there.
     
  5. ayani

    ayani member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Messages:
    5,781
    Ratings:
    +756
    ah, this is a great thread! a dear friend of mine has recently come out to us as a MTF gay woman, and i would like to know what i can do to support her. she's a doll, and a dear person. i know that her transition from seeing herself as a straight man to a gay woman has been difficult and painful as h*ll, but i understand so little of that struggle. what can i do to support and embolden her? i mean, she's huge and muscular, so mayby not literal emboldening! but how can i be a better trans ally?
     
  6. Jaymes

    Jaymes The cake is a lie

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,759
    Ratings:
    +1,039
    Let me preface this with saying that this is just things that I was very grateful for when I finally came out to my friends. Since everyone's different, it may or may not have the same effect with your friend.

    One of the best things you can do would be to treat her just like any other friend you have. Making it clear that you're there for them if they want to vent or anything is a great help, too. Just being there for her is probably going to be a huge help; the world, unfortunately, isn't composed of people as accepting as you guys, and it can be frustrating and wear down on even the strongest of people. Don't push it if she doesn't want to talk, though.

    And I'm sure you know better than to do this, but let me just toss this out here since I know it happens to so many people in the trans community: It's usually considered very bad manners to introduce someone as "Soandso, my trans friend." Slipping up on pronouns and making a big deal out of it can be just as bad. Some trans people don't mind being open about being trans, but unless someone tells you otherwise it's safe to assume they don't want you outing them to everyone they meet.

    If there's something I wasn't clear on or you want me to elaborate on something, please tell me. :)
     
  7. ayani

    ayani member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Messages:
    5,781
    Ratings:
    +756
    thank you, Jensa! this is a great help, thank you! and i will leave it to her to break the ice on the matter.
     
  8. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Crazy Diamond

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2005
    Messages:
    50,608
    Ratings:
    +16,345
    Religion:
    God is in the Rain
    Just treat her like a normal person.
     
  9. Jaymes

    Jaymes The cake is a lie

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,759
    Ratings:
    +1,039
    Edited to add Gracie's question and a section for links. :)
     
  10. Ardent Listener

    Ardent Listener Active Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2005
    Messages:
    836
    Ratings:
    +106
    If you consider their condition (transsexual) to be a birth defect, a sin, a metal condition or what ever, please show them much kindness because they are some of the most hurting people you will ever meet. A little kindness may save their life because they have a very high suicide rate.
     
  11. Jaymes

    Jaymes The cake is a lie

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,759
    Ratings:
    +1,039
    Editted to add a section for movies and books relating to trans topics. It's rather lacking at the moment. :eek: If you guys have any suggestions, throw them at me!
     
  12. Guitar's Cry

    Guitar's Cry Verisimilitudinous

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2006
    Messages:
    11,468
    Ratings:
    +1,428
    Religion:
    Panreligious mystical paganism
    Virginia Woolf's Orlando is a great read. It is a fictional biography, but explores gender roles in a fascinating way. Even more interesting is the history behind it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orlando:_A_Biography

    I've never seen the film, though, so cannot recommend it.
     
  13. Jaymes

    Jaymes The cake is a lie

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,759
    Ratings:
    +1,039
    I'll add it to the books section, then. And I'll see if I can find a copy for myself... it sounds interesting! :)
     
  14. Jaymes

    Jaymes The cake is a lie

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,759
    Ratings:
    +1,039
    Edited to add the 'so why do you want to change your body?' section.
     
  15. Nanda

    Nanda Polyanna

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2007
    Messages:
    5,069
    Ratings:
    +758
    About ten years ago, I went to a GLBT conference in Albany, NY. I ended up sitting in on a lecture about Transgender, and it really was a major turning point in my life. The lecture itself was very similar to the FAQ's listed here, and by the end of it, I realized that every preconcieved notion I'd had about Transgendered people was completely wrong - and I had considered myself to be a very open-minded person (I'd come with a large group of lesbians, after all. Then again, one thing I learned during the lecture was that there is still a lot of predjudice inside the gay community against transgendered people.) I got very emotional upon leaving the lecture hall, and turned to my boyfriend (now husband) and said "I hope to God (I wasn't yet an atheist at that point :p ) that if there are any little transgendered baby souls waiting for parents in heaven, that they choose us for parents instead of somebody who wouldn't understand them."

    Long story short, I'm glad that you posted this.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Jaymes

    Jaymes The cake is a lie

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,759
    Ratings:
    +1,039
    I have to agree with your comment about there being lots of prejudice against trans people in the gay and lesbian community, Nanda. Which really frustrates me more than anything. To me it seems like someone who knows what it's like to be discriminated against should 'know better' than to do the same to someone else. Sadly that doesn't seem to be the case more often than I'd like.
     
  17. MaddLlama

    MaddLlama Obstructor of justice

    Joined:
    May 19, 2006
    Messages:
    8,334
    Ratings:
    +771
    What about Hedwig? :D
     
  18. Jaymes

    Jaymes The cake is a lie

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,759
    Ratings:
    +1,039
    Gah! I can't believe I forgot about that movie... it's one of my favorites, too! :cover:
     
  19. Nanda

    Nanda Polyanna

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2007
    Messages:
    5,069
    Ratings:
    +758
    Hedwig = :hug: Every time I watch it I say "I'll love you Hedwig!" but she's just not interested...*sigh*
     
  20. Jaymes

    Jaymes The cake is a lie

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2004
    Messages:
    7,759
    Ratings:
    +1,039
    Edited to add vocabulary... that was all I could think of at the moment. If there are some terms I've used that I didn't define and you want to know what they mean, please ask. :)
     
Loading...