Good news! Transgender issues are being discussed more and more in the news and social media. As a whole, that discussion is a great thing for our community. But like any conversation, there is the possibility of inaccurate information to be introduced. So, with that in mind, here are a few common myths related to transgender people that can be quickly busted.
1) Everyone’s Transition Follows the Same Path.
Just like every human being is a unique person, every trans person’s transition – or even lack thereof - is different. Some transgender people affirm their gender through surgeries, others don’t. Some transgender people pursue a medical transition without surgery and many trans people do not transition ever. There can be many reasons for taking divergent paths including health risks, social pressure or financial cost. Just because your path is different it does not mean you are not transgender.
2) All Transgender People Struggle with Accessing Gender-Affirming Healthcare.
Did you know that that most Fortune 500 companies now offer transgender-specific healthcare coverage? Over the past few years coverage for gender affirming care has been growing at a rapid rate. The VA is even getting into the act! Many times companies do not make big announcements about these changes and coverage-levels can vary greatly so it is important to review your insurance plan each year. That being said, access to gender-affirming healthcare is still a problem for many in our community and is particularly a problem for transgender people of color, people with lower incomes, and people who work for smaller companies or who must purchase their own healthcare coverage. Many general practitioners do not have experience caring for trans people as well, so you may have to "go shopping" for a doctor.
3) All Transgender People Are The Same.
More and more experts are coming to realize that gender is not a binary of male or female. Instead, people fall on a spectrum that includes varying degrees of “femaleness” and “maleness.” Transgender is an umbrella term that encompasses all people who do not conform to the gender role they were assigned at birth. Many trans people now consider themselves to be gender-fluid and will present as the gender they feel like in any given day while others prefer to use the term genderqueer because they do not identify with either gender.
4) Transgender People Change Their Sexuality When They Transition.
Let’s make it clear. Sexuality and gender are different things. Gender is who you identify as and Sex is who you are attracted to. If you are mostly attracted to women before transition you will still be attracted to women after transition. The same goes for if you are attracted to men. Notice how I used the word “mostly?” Sexuality among transgender people is as complex and dynamic as with any cisgender person and that means that sexuality is fluid and cannot always be defined. In the end, it is up each person to decide who they are attracted to at any given moment.
5) You Are Not Transgender If You Do Not Present Publicly
Many trans people transition publicly and are glad to tell others that they are trans. They are proud of who they are and are glad to be an example to other trans people and the public at large. But for some people a more stealthy approach is what they are comfortable with. This leads us to the distinction between gender identity and gender expression. Gender identity is how one self identifies and feels, while gender expression is how they present to the public. Trans people remain in the closet for any number of reasons including work, family or other concerns. That does not make them any less transgender.
Bonus - There Is Something Wrong With Transgender People / Gender Dysphoria is a Disease.
More and more research is being conducted into the reasons some people are transgender while others are not. Most of it is pointing to changes that occur in the womb during pregnancy. Based on the amount and timing of hormones received during gestation changes can occur in the human brain that impact how people perceive their gender. In other words, transgender is a naturally occurring condition and not an illness.
You may have heard the term “gender dysphoria” and that term is often associated with trans people. But not all transgender men or women suffer from this condition. Dysphoria is defined as “a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life.” Have you ever been unsatisfied? Have you ever felt good about yourself? Of course you have! People of all types suffer from Dysphoria related to weight, beauty, work, family, friends or any number of things.
It is the social stigma associated with being trans that is the cause of Gender Dysphoria. Just think about how much healthier we could all be if we simply accepted each other as we are!
Learn More About the Lehigh Valley Transgender Community
Would you like to write for our transgender blog or learn more about our support group for transgender people in the Lehigh Valley and eastern Pennsylvania? If so, please contact Lehigh Valley Renaissance or better yet join us at one of our monthly meetings!
Note: The views expressed in this post are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by Lehigh Valley Renaissance. The inspiration for this post came from an article in the Huffington Post