I Needed More Than the Average Therapist Offered — Here’s What I Found:
The following are some of my findings from exploring what it means to be transgender. I am not claiming to have all the answers or even most of them, but rather sharing my experiences and opinions based on research, reading, talking with others, and doing my own research.
If you think there are other things that could be added or changed please let me know!
What is Transgender?
Transgender is a term used to refer to someone whose gender identity differs from their assigned birth gender. There are many different types of transgender individuals including those who identify as transsexuals (those born into the wrong body), crossdressers (people who dress in clothing associated with another gender) and agender people (who do not feel like they fit into either male or female categories).
Gender Identity Disorder (GID): A Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) classification which describes a range of symptoms in people who experience distress over their gender identity. These include feelings of discomfort with one’s biological/natal gender, persistent discomfort with having to wear clothes traditionally worn by the opposite gender, and desire to live life as the other gender.
According to the DSM-5, “the disorder may involve both psychological and physical manifestations.” The current version of the DSM no longer uses this term to refer to transgender individuals.
What Does It Mean to Be Trans?
It is not really something that can be explained easily, in fact, other than the fact you know that it is different than your assigned gender at birth, you may or may not have an understanding of what it actually means to be trans. It may be something you experience internally or externally. It may be a little bit of both. Some days you may feel very in touch with your transness and others you may just go about life as if you were not transgender at all.
Some trans people have dysphoria, which is when certain body parts, social expectations, or other things trigger a sense of unease or disgust in them. Others, like myself, do not have this problem.
Sometimes I wonder if it is worse for those without dysphoria since it means they have to deal with a lot more in their transition than we do.
It is still a little unclear as to whether being trans is something you are born with or develop later on in life. Many scientists believe it is biological while others believe it is more complex and influenced by factors such as environment and upbringing.
What is Gender Dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria, also known as gender identity disorder (GID), is a psychological and emotional condition in which a person experiences extreme discomfort with their biological gender, or the gender they have been labeled as. It is the distress or discomfort that occurs when one’s gender identity does not align with one’s biological characteristics. Transgender individuals are just one type of person who may suffer from this condition.
A person with gender dysphoria may identify as transsexual, being distinctly uncomfortable with their biological gender, and wishing to make their body more like that of their preferred gender through the use of hormones and perhaps surgery. For people diagnosed with GID, it can be a very serious and even life-threatening condition.
Gender dysphoria often stems from physical or emotional trauma during childhood or adolescence, when a person begins to form their gender identity. Some people who are transgender identify as such at a very young age, while others may not come to this realization until later in life.
There is some correlation between gender dysphoria and genetics. Studies have shown that there is a higher probability that a person who has a transsexual parent will themselves be transsexual.
However, while this may increase a child’s likelihood of being transgender, it is far from certain, and there are many other factors that can influence this decision.
What Are the Different Types of Transgender?
Transgender is an umbrella term that is used to describe people who were born with one set of gender characteristics (i.e. biology), yet identify themselves as another.
Transsexuals are people who identify strongly with a gender that is different from their own. A transsexual man, for example, will feel that he is actually a woman.
This desire to be a woman is present from early childhood and is stronger than any feelings of being a man.
A transvestite, on the other hand, will feel that they are a man despite the fact that they were born with female biology. They will often attire themselves in female clothing and wear makeup during periods of feeling strong gender dysphoria.
Transvestites do not wish to change their gender, but rather indulge in cross-dressing as a form of expressing their feelings.
Some transgender people do not feel comfortable identifying themselves under either of these terms. These individuals are known as genderqueer, a term that describes someone whose gender identity is neither male nor female, yet a combination of both, or neither.
These feelings are just a few of the ways that a person can experience gender dysphoria.
What Are the Causes of Gender Dysphoria?
Research into the causes of gender dysphoria is ongoing. While it is widely believed that there is no single cause of GD, it is known that biological factors play a significant role. Children who experience gender dysphoria are more likely to have parents who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, and genes have been found to play a role in the development of the condition as well.
However, gender dysphoria can also appear without any apparent biological causes. The treatment for gender dysphoria is different for each person.
Most people seek treatment to align their bodies with their gender identification. Biological females can receive hormones and surgery to masculinize them, while biological males can receive hormone therapy and surgery to feminize them.
People who experience strong feelings of gender dysphoria are often very unhappy. They may feel anxious or depressed, and may even engage in self-harm without the proper treatment.
Many people also have problems functioning in their daily lives and suffer impaired social relations, which can be the result of experiencing gender dysphoria.
Treating Gender Dysphoria
The treatment of gender dysphoria consists mainly of psychological counseling and prescription drugs. However, many trans people do not feel comfortable with or do not like the idea of psychotherapy.
While it has been proven that psychological counseling can be effective in helping to treat gender dysphoria, it is not a requirement to transition, and many trans people choose to transition without it.
One of the main goals of this type of treatment is to alleviate any feelings of depression, anxiety, and distress that occur as a result of gender dysphoria. Hormone replacement therapy and surgery are two common treatments that are used to transition from one gender to another.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Many trans people seek out hormone replacement therapy as part of their transition. This type of treatment involves taking male hormones, such as testosterone, or female hormones, such as estrogen.
Not all trans people take hormones or choose to transition physically. However, hormone replacement therapy is often an important step for many trans people, especially trans women.
Testosterone is not the only hormone that can be taken as part of hormone replacement therapy. Other hormones can also be taken to help increase other masculine characteristics.
Estrogen is used to help develop feminine characteristics in trans women. Both estrogen and testosterone have been used by trans people for decades to transition.
For some people, taking hormones can cause unwanted side effects. Some of these include acne, weight gain, and mood swings.
Some people have even experienced changes in their skin and hair.
Hormone replacement therapy is often only the first step in the transition from one gender to another for many people who experience gender dysphoria. Many people do not stop at taking hormones.
They may also seek out surgery as well.
There are many different surgeries that can be done in order to transition. The most common is a bilateral mastectomy, which removes the patient’s original genitals and reproductive organs in favor of creating a neovagina for trans women or a neopenis for trans men.
Other surgeries that can be done include facial feminization surgery, body contouring, and voice surgery, depending on what the individual finds necessary.
These surgeries can be rather expensive, They often range from $7000 to $20000. Fortunately, many trans people are able to have their surgeries covered by their private insurance or through public funding.
As with most surgical procedures, there is always the possibility of complications. There is also usually a long recovery time after the procedure in order to ensure that the patient’s health is good after having gone through surgery.
What It Is Like for Transgender People?
The experience of being transgender or transsexual is as varied as any other population. There are as many different types of trans individuals as there are people in that group. For example, some trans women may have had easy times growing up and assimilating into society, while others may have been tormented and abused. Some trans men may have been able to live their lives quietly, while others may have faced extreme hardships and struggles because of their gender identity.
Being trans is, unfortunately, not without its dangers. Trans people have significantly higher rates of suicide than the general population.
The discrimination that they face on a day-to-day basis can often be overwhelming.
The process of transition can also be very difficult. Many trans people fear being “outed” or “confused” for their actual gender.
Some may also have anger issues due to the bullying and tormenting that they may have faced while growing up.
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