What does it mean to be transgender?

A Transgender person is an individual of any age or sex who manifest characteristics, behaviors or self-expression, which in their own or someone else's perception, is typical of or commonly associated with persons of another gender.

Are there different types of transgender people?

Yes. There is great diversity among transgender people. Various terms are used to describe segments of the transgender community. Some of these terms are transvestite, crossdresser, bi-gendered, androgyne, transsexual, drag queen and male/female impersonator etc.,. Each of these terms describes a distinct type of transgender person.

What causes a person to be transgender?

No definite answer can be offered. Research suggests there is a biological basis for transgender behavior but to what degree is unknown. Transgender people manifest their condition at different stages in their lives ranging from infancy to old age. This leads to the observation that biology (the brain)creates a capacity while nurture and individual choice may retard or accelerate the emergence or degree of transgender behavior.

Most pople including many TS's feel that there were family problems whilst growing up, parent wanted a girl, a lack of a father figure. Or they were dressed in clothing of the opposite gender. Some feel that TS's are simply confused.

Only limited research has been carried out to determine the causes of gender and sexuality of the brain and genetics. Some of the findings are a starting block to a ‘real' medical reasoning instead of societal one.

A first and the most recent study was done by a Dr. Swaab of the Netherlands. He took post-mortem brains and examined them slice by slice to define differences in males and females. Eventually he encountered one.

He discovered a region of the brain called "the central subdivision of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis" or BSTc for short. It's a tiny structure in the hypothalamus of the brain that seems to be linked to our gender identity. This section is bigger in men than it is in women byabout 44 percent. The amazing thing he's found is that in male-to-female transsexuals, the BSTc has female size, and in female-to-male transsexuals, it has male size. The size of this structure in the brain doesn't seem to be affected by hormonal changes, aside from perhaps during fetal development.

This research suggests that gender is determined in the brain pre-natally. However, the sample of transsexual brains were small. It was limited to ten, mainly due to the very difficulty of finding undamaged post-mortem brain tissue. Die to the sample size, most view this research as interesting, but highly inconclusive. Thus research would need to be carried out on a larger scale and repeated before it would be considered conclusive.

Recently research has been conducted at UCLA. Dr. Eric Vilain has been researching human genetics and how they affect pre-natal development prior to hormones. He and his team have discovered 54 genes that link to gender. Prior to this discovery, it was believed that hormones did everything in distinguishing the body between males and females. However, these genes are activated before the SRY gene switches on. That's the gene responsible for the testosterone hormone wash in the Y chromosome.

Of the 54 genes, 18 were produced at higher levels in the male, and 36 were produced at higher levels in the female. This research could help to determine where the transgender phenonommon comes from. It may have everything to do with why transsexuals report feeling that they were born in the wrong body. As of now the research continues and I am sure that eventually we will find that answer. It is just a matterr of medical inetrest then the trandgender community may have a solid base in society.

How many transgender people are there in the world?

No one knows what the population of transgender people is because there is no means of identifying and counting them. The evidence suggests that many transgender people hide their condition to avoid discrimination and abuse by others. However, transgender people are found in every society and culture, and in every country, from the most primitive to the most advanced. And, transgender people have been present throughout human history.

Literary references to transgender people abound. In the latter half of the twentieth century the visible population of transgender people has increased into the millions worldwide. The evidence suggests that transgenderism is but another facet of the diverse human condition.

Are transgender people considered to be disabled, sick or mentally ill?

Under the provisions of the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA) transgender people are not considered to be disabled solely on the basis of their transgender status. Transgender people are not considered to be medically at risk by virtue of their status.

Transgender people may be diagnosed by the psychiatric profession under the provisions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), American Psychiatric Association, 1994. However, the vast majority of transgender people do not require psychiatric diagnosis or treatment and are not regarded as mentally ill or incompetent solely by virtue of their transgendered status. The inclusion of transgender people in the DSM-IV is subject to periodic review. Just as homosexuality was removed from an earlier DSM, it is possible that transgender people will not be included in future DSM's.

Can transgender people be treated or cured

There is no known cure or course of treatment which reverses the transgender person's manifestation of the characteristics and behaviors of another gender. Transgender people have, at times, been subjected to many types of therapy such as, electric shock, aversion (applying physical pain to condition response), drug and other procedures. None of these "cures" have succeeded. Many such "cures" have been painful and dehumanizing for the victims.

Are transgender people homosexual,
bisexual or heterosexual

The sexual orientation of transgender people may be homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual.

Are transgender people subject to discrimination and denial of their human rights? Are they subjected to hate crimes and bashing incidents

A: Transgender people face discrimination in the workplace, in housing, in healthcare, in the military service, in prison and in the society at large. Many transgender people are unemployed or under-employed by virtue of their status. With the exception of a few jurisdictions the jobs of transgender people are not protected by law. Because of their "visible" behavior and choice of attire transgender people are frequently subjected to verbal and physical abuse by other citizens, leading in some cases to the loss of life. In the U.S.A. such hate crimes are currently not reported statistically as crimes perpetrated against transgender people.

How can I help support the transgender person in my family

First, offer your family member your unconditional love and support. Secondly, educate yourself about transgenderism and transgender people and their concerns. Thirdly, help your loved one educate and "come out" to other family members and friends who will be supportive.



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