The Transgender Information
What Am I?
This has to be one of the most asked questions within the trans community. “I am so confused, I don’t know if I am a CD, a TG or a TS.”
Okay, so let’s start with some deep breathing and relaxation. Then you can actually begin to sort this out. The operative phrase here is YOU SORT THIS OUT! No one else can do it for you and the reasons are within you.
First, your confusion is probably blown way out of proportion, to begin with, and this is why you need to relax. If you are in a state of anxiety, then you cant evaluate things for yourself. But this is only the beginning.
I want to suggest in the strongest of terms that if you are anxious, depressed, or even suicidal, you need professional help. In my opinion, anyone in our community can benefit from it regardless.
So, let me start by stating that this is about you, and more specifically your feelings. I am not talking about feelings of joy or sadness, but rather your feelings about yourself and your gender.
Remember gender and sex are separate entities. For instance, people who are gay can be very comfortable with their gender identity; that is their feeling of being male or female.
People in the trans community can also be this way but it is usually after they come to understand themselves – self-acceptance. In other words, you can be a part of the trans community and still be cis-gendered. Confused? Don’t be. Don’t confuse behaviours with feelings. This is the route to asking this very question and getting yourself worked up about it.
First of all, enjoying the feeling of dressing up and going out (maybe just driving, for a walk, or possibly at an LGBT club or event) doesn’t make you a transsexual. Not at all. Wanting to dress up every day does not make you a transsexual. Even dressing and living androgynously does not make you a transsexual. You may even seem to be obsessed with it but that doesn’t qualify you as TS.
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The Transsexual knows (feels) that their gender and their sexual identity are at odds. In other words, you might be male but your actual feelings are female. You don’t feel male in any way (other than what you have learned.
Most transsexuals have “learned” their sexual role as necessary for functioning in society. This is done at great mental pain and often manifests itself with physical symptoms as well. The short version of this is that it is nothing less than an anxiety disorder. (Some in the psych community would disagree with this assessment but I and most in the trans community do not accept their positions.
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Transsexual is not as concerned with dressing or makeup etc as they are with their gender role in the world around them. Certainly, some need to dress etc is there but it isn’t the overriding feeling that is lived. The feeling of being female while having male sex organs (or vice versa) is the cause of enormous stress.
Transgenderist may also have some of these same feelings but they don’t necessarily have the need to transition in whole or in part. Still, they will live their lives in their true gender role; often in a nondescript way (androgyny). The TG may seek hormonal treatment or not, but they will not have the need to seek reassignment surgery. Of course, this is a bit of an oversimplification but nonetheless, it is a general trait.
The Crossdresser may have feelings of anxiety as well, perhaps even some dysphoria however the CD will not want to transition. The CD is quite comfortable with his or her sexual role and possibly gender role but does have the compulsion to crossdress and emulate the opposite sex.
Faced with the choice of transition or not, the CD will not choose a transition where the TS will openly seek it. This is about as simple an analogy as can be thought of. This isn’t to say that all identified transsexuals will transition; they won’t.
Many will not do so because of financial constraints or family relationships or even health issues. Of the identified transsexuals, only a small number will actually be able to transition, however, if the playing field were level, every TS would gladly undergo the surgery they so desperately need.
These are but a few very elementary examples of self-definition. The truth is that order to truly understand one’s own gender identity takes hard work; work done with a qualified and experienced therapist. It is not an overnight revelation.
You may already know where you identify but this doesn’t mean a therapist isn’t necessary. We have barriers we erect in our lives for self-protection.
We need to be able to tear them down wherever possible and if not possible, understand our reasons that we keep them. Only by working with a qualified therapist can we discover the reasons for these barriers as well as our own actions.
So let’s discuss this further who am I where do I fit in?
This is a question asked almost every day in one form or another. It is unquestionably the source of a great deal of confusion among the trans community as we all struggle at one point or another to figure it out.
First of all, it is crucial to separate your sexual orientation from your gender identity. Most in the transgender community are heterosexual but often for those who are gay it presents an added twist that must be dealt with.
Let’s start by saying that no one fits neatly into a little box. I identify as a transsexual but I cannot deny there is a little of the TV, CD, and TG in me as well. I also believe that many CDs try to align themselves with the transsexual population; almost as if it is a badge of honour. It isn’t. The fact is that living as a TS can be hell. So, let’s start with a transsexual.
The Transsexual Identity
If you have read the article “How Do We Feel” in the Partners section it should give you a bit of an idea. All of those quotes are from transsexuals who HAVE figured it out. That should put a bit of a touch of reality to it.
First, let’s figure out what being transsexual is not.
It is not; dressing up pretty, putting on makeup, and going shopping. The dressing is really a very secondary issue. Yes, it is a part of our lives but it is more likely to be jeans and a tee than a skirt and blouse, and makeup will usually take about 5 to 10 minutes tops; if at all.
Being TS means we are going to be clocked, every single day until we are fully transitioned with facial feminization surgery among other cosmetic procedures. It means that we are putting ourselves out there as targets for ridicule and prejudice.
It means we are risking our lives and health to transition. It means we are living constantly with anxiety that can border on depression and often it is debilitating.
It means we are willing to risk our families and careers so we can be ourselves. It means we welcome the surgeon with open arms.
It means that nothing else in the world matters as much as aligning our gender identity with our gender role and eventually our sexual identification.
Being transsexual also means living in poverty for many. Some of these women have to turn to the sex trade to survive. As I mentioned earlier, careers often disappear when the TS comes out, so ensuring continued financial support is as critical as having an emotional and social support system. The TS needs all three in massive doses.
The transgenderist often identifies as a transsexual but for any number of reasons opts to not go through the transition. This is a very personal choice and the reasons are as varied as there are people.
Most try to live as “normally” as possible while still satisfying their core gender. This often can result in presenting as an androgyne or “metrosexual” if you will. Their dress may appear as “pop culture” or slight femme.
Their lives are no less driven by the need to transition but their resolve is not to do so; at least for that day.
“You can always tell the crossdresser by their ever-present digital camera pointed back at themselves.”
The crossdresser is driven to emulate their opposite natal sex but what they have no desire for is to transition. The crossdresser accounts for approximately 95% of the trans population. Obviously, they are also the ones who most question their gender.
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This is good of course but what sets them apart from the TS or TG is that the TS knows their gender and sex are at odds. They know their true gender is not their birth gender.
Sometimes it takes a bit of time, often with a therapist to figure this out, but it is truly something we know deep down. There is no question. The CD, however, questions this to death.
This continual questioning often leads them toward anxiety creating other social problems that on the surface can make them think they might be transsexual. As I said, the TS knows and there is little or no question in their soul.
This doesn’t mean that the latent transsexual is a myth. It is very much a reality and for those who do discover their true identity in later life, that realization can be earth-shattering.
Of course, these people came from the CD part of the trans community. This only adds to the questions the CD will ask. I can only address this question like this;
The latent TS will “hit the wall” and go crazy in the process. They don’t understand what has happened or where they are going. This is a time of high risk for them on multiple fronts; social, familial, career, and last but not least, mental/psychological.
The anxiety and depression that result from this awakening can be debilitating and often is. Frequently they end up in the mental health system where the first “working diagnosis” is that they are Bi-Polar.
Then the diagnosis will change to perhaps PTSD. This can go on ad nauseum until the sufferer finally admits to himself or herself that they are trans and then they have to come out to their doctor.
Suddenly the whole picture changes as do the treatment protocols. Several years could have passed during this time. Coming out at the beginning could save a lot of anguish.
The Transvestic Fetishist
TV has a different perspective on cross-dressing. Here it is for sexual pleasure or gratification. For this reason, they are not generally considered a part of the transgender population, BUT they could also fall into the crossdresser category.
As I said at the beginning, there is probably a little of each of these archetypes in all of us, but the trick is to sit down and seriously and honestly look at yourself to see where you best fit into the spectrum. As you can see from the picture at the top, there is an overlap everywhere to varying degrees.
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