What is Transgender?

Transgender is commonly used as an umbrella term to categorize individuals who exhibit behaviors and/or experience motivations that society would generally view as contrary to the majority of individuals who share their birth sex.

Transgender behaviors can be observed. A crossdresser, may present as the opposite sex, either full or part time, and take no further action. A transsexual, may take steps to physically transition to the opposite sex with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), facial feminization surgery for male-to-female transsexuals (FFS), and genital/sexual reassignment surgery (GRS/SRS).

Motivations for transgender behaviors are complex, and often cross the lines of observed behaviors. Some express transgender behaviors for performance, others as a fetish, others to express their sexuality, still others to express their true identity, or gender identity. To complicate matters, any/all of these motivations may be at play in various degrees, and they may change over the individuals lifetime.

Transgender is also used as a more specific term to describe individuals who experience Gender Dysphoria, Gender Identity Disorder or GID. Individuals with gender dysphoria frequently report the experience as a feeling that their internal gender identity does not match their external sex. Some stress this discomfort primarily as physical gender dysphoria requiring medical intervention to help align mind and body. Other report their discomfort primarily as social gender dysphoria requiring living as the opposite sex. Many report both of these phenomena in various degrees.

Gender Identity Disorder or GID is currently listed as a diagnostic category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). This inclusion is contested by some individuals in the transgender community. Homosexuality was removed from the DSM-IV decades ago.

Transgender individuals often experience negativity from their family, friends, employers, and society at large. Many grow up hiding their true nature from themselves and others for many years before accepting. This lengthy process can cause great turmoil for the individual and their relationships. Fortunately, today more are accepting themselves at an earlier age.

From a human rights standpoint, there are only few state and local transgender laws in the United States preventing discrimination toward transgender individuals. Other countries have taken steps on the national level. The transgender phenomenon is often misunderstood and education is desperately needed. The slow but steadily increasing exposure to transgender individuals in the media is a positive influence.

To summarize, the term transgender is complex and holds different meanings for different individuals. Each person who identifies as transgender possesses a unique worldview with their own behaviors and intricate and evolving motivations behind those behaviors. Each transgender person has a unique path forward, no two paths are identical, and none is more acceptable than any other.

The Cisgender Privilege Checklist

There appears to be little in the way of a comprehensive cisgender (non transgender) privilege list. These lists are generally written in the first person relative to having the privilege. Number #1 speaks to both heterosexual and cisgender privilege. The remainder of the list focuses on cisgender privilege.

  1. It is unlikely that I will be ostracized by my family and friends, fired from my job, evicted from my home, given substandard medical care, suffer violent or sexual abuse, ridiculed by the media, or preached against by religious organizations simply because of my professed identity or perceived incongruent gendered behaviors or characteristics.
  2. I can be confident that people will not call me by a different name or use improper pronouns.
  3. I never suffered the indignation of "holding it", when both functional and unoccupied public restrooms are available. In fact, I don't need to be concerned about public facilities segregated by sex.
  4. If I am institutionalized, I don't have to worry about being housed in the wrong section of a facility segregated by sex.
  5. I am not denied entrance to appropriate services or events that are segregated by sex.
  6. My childhood innocence was not interrupted with desperate prayers to a divinity begging to wake up the opposite sex.
  7. I never grieve about my lost childhood and adolescence because I was born the opposite sex.
  8. I will only experience puberty once.
  9. I never worry about potential lovers shifting instantly from amorous to distain and even violence because of my genitals.
  10. I am unlikely to be questioned about my genitals, even less likely to be touched inappropriately or asked to see them.
  11. It is unlikely that I would risk my health by avoiding the medical profession for fear of discovery.
  12. I never considered hiding my body parts by binding or tucking.
  13. It is unlikely that I would consider changing my voice.
  14. If I have a professionally recognized and diagnosed condition, I am unlikely to be excluded from medical insurance coverage.
  15. As a man, I am more likely to look my age, and have a body similar in size and shape to other men.
  16. As a man, I am more likely to be satisfied with the functionality of my genitals.
  17. As a man, I am more likely able to father children .
  18. As a woman, I am more likely to have a body similar in size and shape to other women.
  19. As a woman, I am unlikely to lose my hair before middle age.
  20. As a woman, I am more likely able to conceive and bear children.
  21. As a women, I don't have to dilate the rest of my life.
  22. I am more likely able to achieving orgasm.
  23. I will likely have $50,000 or more to spend or save for retirement.
  24. I can't imaging spending months and $1000s of dollars on a therapist so they can tell me something I already knew.
  25. If I am physically healthy, I don't think about having a hysterectomy, a mastectomy, massive hair removal, contra hormone therapy, vocal surgery, facial reassignment surgery, or genital reassignment surgery.
  26. I have a better chance of reaching old age without taking my own life.
  27. At my funeral, it is unlikely that my family would present me crossdressed against my living wishes.
  28. I never worry about passing gender wise. I am oblivious to the consequences of someone failing to do so, and consequently loosing my cisgender (non transgender) privilege. In fact, I have the privilege of being completely unaware of my own cisgender privilege.

The Membership - The Transgender Boards - September, 2005

In a Thousand Years

In a thousand years, mankind will look back at our time and condition with absolute horror at the cruelty and utter inhumanity perpetrated against an innocent group of people. Contemporary society's treatment of the transgendered will be considered barbaric, akin to slavery, genocide, incarceration of the mentally ill, or the public humiliation of the handicapped.

"What were they thinking?", they will say. "They already had medical evidence". "It is only a normal human variation like intelligence, musical talent, or athletic ability". "They understood biology and statistics back then, didn't they?". "How could innocent children be treated so cruelly, driven to construct false identities just to survive". "This was brainwashing and torture of the highest order".

It will be inconceivable to future generation that a wholly sane person in good health would consider suicide over simply living life as they were meant to. "What kind of society could allow such insanity to continue", they will ponder. "How many had to die", they will ask, "before this madness ended".

What will be our legacy to the future? The questions of how long and how many are yet unanswered. The answers lie in each and everyone of us. What are they to be?

KM - February, 1999

One Winter's Day

A child was born one winter's day
A child of hope and joy
A trick, a game, this can not be
Please God, please make this right
But reality yields not to cries
And darkness follows close
Then death, yet life, a paradox
A path reveals itself

A child was grown one winter's day
A child of doubt and fear
Is this the soul I am to be?
Please God, please make this right
But reality yields not to lies
And darkness follows close
Then death, yet life, a paradox
The path conceals itself

A child was born this winter's day
A child of hope and joy
This is the soul I am to be
Thank God, I feel so right
So reality must yield to truth
And darkness fades away
Then life, not death, salvation
The path reveals itself

KM - July, 1998


Consonance of Identity and Expression

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