For most people the word transgender is an intimidating word, either they don't understand it or don't want to and even if they do, they find it uncomfortable to engage in a discussion. When people hear the word transgender, nine times out of ten their minds instantly think of conceptions they grew up knowing about trans people and how we are ‘dangerous’ and a bad example for children to be around.
For many generations transgender people have been opposed to prejudice, other’s misperceptions and the ideologies of what people believe and think being trans is versus our own truth The majority of people who are not transgender, are led to believe that being transgender is just a person who identifies with the opposite sex to which they were assigned to at birth. While this statement is true, the reality is this response lacks the empathy of how being transgender, and the dysphoria that evolves around it, is so much more painstaking than what this simple phrase makes it out to be. Those who don’t understand the concept of being trans, of holding the identity of being the opposite sex, don’t understand that it isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Gender dysphoria plays a massive role within this, for those who don’t know gender dysphoria is the distress and discomfort caused by a mismatch between the gender you are assigned with at birth and your gender identity. This distress and discomfort for some people may be associated with, gender, our bodies, our voices, and how people perceive us. The way people experience dysphoria varies, it can form anxiety and depression. For others it feels like anger and distress even grief, but it can also feel dreadfully lonely and isolating, not being able to feel at home with your own body.
Truth be told, we currently live in a society where those who identify as transgender are seen and heard by many, but not understood by the majority. Social media tends to fabricate and exaggerate the gender expression and what it is, therefore being trans is misunderstood. For the majority of the time, we are still labelled as mentally ill, deranged freaks. Seen as people who mutilate our bodies, who transition to compete better in sports, and are perverts.
Growing up you would have probably been warned about the ‘scary weird’ transgender person, right?
The ideology that being trans isn’t real and that it is just an excuse to be allowed in the opposite bathroom or to have an advantage in sports is damaging to the trans community, as it projects these falsehoods of the trans community, it makes us look bad. However, this is far from the truth. From someone who is trans, I can guarantee, this is not what it is to be trans. Transgender people do not choose to be trans. We are born this way. Our minds are the minds that should align with our bodies, but unfortunately don’t.
Being trans is draining; the constant fear that you aren’t passing or passing enough, the dissociation of what you think you look like and how you really look like, feeling like your insides are literally turning inside out when you see you don’t have the body that you’re supposed to have. Being trans is so much more then feeling like the opposite gender, it’s knowing you are the gender you identify as but struggling to express to others how this is, is something that takes over our lives.
However, dysphoria isn’t the only issue transgender people face, the ignorance, violence, and discrimination that is targeted towards the community is extremely degrading and humiliating and a serious issue we face. This ignorance is primarily caused by an absence of knowledge of those who are yet to understand the truth of trans people and who have been taught that these feelings aren’t valid and are forbidden in society. The lack of understanding towards transgender people stems purely from the absence of knowledge of not being aware or taught about what being transgender is, and how past generations have shaped newer generations minds to think of trans people. Although nobody can force change, it is still important that people learn the issues trans people face in our day-to-day life. People need to know that trans people are not mentally ill or deranged.
Mental health issues based around trans people are mainly caused by the harassment and abuse inflicted on us by others. This has an extreme impact on our lives, impacting our mental health, and this is on top of gender dysphoria and the waves of anxiety and depression that come with that. Living in a society where there is a lot of misunderstanding around our community and how we are perceived by others, can make it difficult for us, transgender people, to be able to live as ourselves comfortably without the fear of other peoples’ opinions being inflicted on us, whether it is verbal abuse/harassment and/or physical violence.
Transgender people are just like everyone else, in reality we are all the same people. Like everyone else we all have our own struggles and worries in our lives and for trans people, this just happens to be one of them, but this does not stop us from being ‘normal’ or not being deserving of the same rights as everyone else. We are just as equal as everyone else.
We are not the demons we have been painted and framed to be. We are just ordinary people trying to live as our authentic selves. Putting aside dysphoria and all, being transgender is a beautiful unique experience, and you’ll see, just like everyone else should, we are just people who deserve the same amount of respect and understanding as anyone else.
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