GET REAL ABOUT GENDER. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Here I’m explaining the simple facts about transgender people, people who are born a physical gender that they cannot identify with because of a changed biological process in the womb. (word count 1246)

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Chances are you were born male or female.

There’s a good chance that you’re happy about that and how your gender fits with your natural instincts, how you think, feel and identify with that gender.

For a growing few, it’s not like that at all!

If you seek wisdom and enlightenment to the reality of being transgender, here is a true insight into how nature assigns gender in the womb and why perhaps a growing minority can’t identify with their born gender.

It shouldn’t need saying that what magic happens in the womb is extremely complex. The general population takes it all for granted, plan (or not) for a family and hey presto, a sprog is on the way.

Every parent in the world hopes and prays that their kid will be born healthy and ‘normal’, as in meeting parents and society’s expectations.

Science might not yet have all the answers to exactly what and why some things happen in the womb, but many tend to remain blissfully unaware of many available facts, expecting others to be like themselves; male or female and heterosexual.

CLARIFYING FACT FROM MYTH

People identifying as transgender seldom have a psychiatric problem, are not mentally ill and they are not necessarily gay. (A common myth is that gay people want to be the opposite gender). Transgender people identify as heterosexual, bisexual, gay or another sexual label where their sexuality is less defined.

Gender and sexuality are completely separate to each other. Gender being a biological process and sexuality still open to theory, scientific exploration and its own myths.

Transgender is quite different to transvestitism and cross-dressing, although cross-dressing might be a chosen option for a transgender person to become more comfortable with their physical body.

To understand why a few people identify as transgender, we must first understand how gender is determined;

In the early stage of foetus development, we are all female with the active X chromosome inherited from our mother. After around 8 weeks of gestation, the sex chromosome inherited from our father becomes active. If it’s X, we continue to grow as female. If it’s the Y chromosome, that will produce testosterone and other male hormones that then start the biological process of male characteristics.

In this process, the respective chromosomes (XX for female and XY for male) work alongside the way our brain and reproductive organs develop, as appropriate to the gender.

If hormonal or other influences impact on that process in the womb, as we grow in childhood the brain may not identify with the physical gender characteristics we were born with. This is a simplistic but factual overview of why some people find themselves in conflict with their physical gender.

For a few, transgender issues may be a phase and with expert counselling, a solution found that allows the person to live in harmony with their physical body. (Puberty can bring temporary confusion about gender and/or sexuality. Low self-esteem or a feeling of not fitting into their environment might also lead to such a phase).

For others, it will be evident that the revulsion for their physical body is permanent, almost to the point of self-harm or even thoughts of suicide because the family will not acknowledge their concerns. In both cases, the cause is almost always from a biological process, not an issue of the mind. Never is it a conscious choice or whim. More likely it stems from a distinct feeling from a young age.

Whether a phase or something more permanent, anyone with such a gender issue must first receive support and understanding from their immediate family. While it may not be reasonable to meet all their needs, some compromise that eases the tension and the trauma is recommended as soon as possible.

Just as important, the preferred name and whether they are called he or she should be respected, because that helps them overcome the hate they feel for their born gender.

Parents of kids or teenagers struggling with gender identity should face the situation with compassion and common sense. Religious beliefs or moral values should take a back seat while helping someone work through their feelings, likely to be strong and instinctive like a ticking time-bomb. Never underestimate the person’s feelings or the anxiety they are going through. Parents who choose to deny issues their child raises with them are not true parents and should never have had kids. Parents should be there for their kids, no matter what.

Obviously, expert professional counselling will be required at some stage, ensuring it to be a genuine biological issue or just part of growing up.

Once determined as permanent, medically controlled hormone blockers can be given to slow puberty, until a young person is old enough to decide how best to pursue the options to bring them closer to the gender they identify with.

Ignore this advice and the person may turn inwards, leading to depression and thoughts of suicide. For them, the battle is real. We should not dismiss, judge or vilify anyone who claims to have a gender issue, because each individual will likely experience genuine traumatising discomfort, anxiety and distress, particularly within the young.

Where sexuality might confuse the issue of being transgender can be explained in two ways.

A non-transgender person who was born gay or bisexual and who might lean towards being masculine (female) or effeminate (male) can potentially become confused about their true gender. Likely a short-term confusion but one that needs compassion rather than judgement.

For transgender people, their innate sexuality is likely to match the gender they identify with.

For example, someone born with male characteristic and genitalia who identifies themselves as female will be a trans woman. If she is sexually/emotionally attracted to guys she, although physical male, should NOT be considered as gay, because, as a trans-woman she will be straight. Similarly, a woman identifying as male (trans man) attracted to women should be accepted as a straight male.

Of course, it is not always that clear cut and assumes what society currently acknowledges as attraction between genders. But for transgender people, meeting their sexual and emotional needs can be frustrating and confusing, equally so for those who may find themselves attracted to the personality or physical aspects of a transgender person.

Once transgender people become adult, they may pursue their need to live as the gender they identify with. This can be by dressing in a style that relates to that gender, receiving hormone replacement therapy or taking steps to have surgery to change their physical genitalia and/or breasts. Either way, it’s a long and emotional process.

However, many will face undue hardship because of the ignorance and prejudice of society. Finding work can be difficult because no one wants to employ them. Hence, many might struggle to support themselves, adding to their anguish. Even finding love and intimacy can be difficult, for prospective partners likely have their own sexual instincts about the gender of their ideal person, putting mind over matter relating to a trans gender’s sexual and physical characteristics a real challenge.

Remain ignorant at your peril, if indeed you are. But of you have half a brain that works and questions, then think on, for had nature imposed on to you a less defined gender or one that didn’t match your physical body,  there could have gone you!

Please discourage ignorance and prejudice. Please share this information with everyone you know. The world needs educating!

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