Transgender people feel that the gender they were born , or assigned at birth, does not fit them. Transgender people include people born female who identify as male (female-to-male/FTM) and people born male who identify as female (MTF). It also includes people who identify as ‘genderqueer’ or gender neutral and/or gender free- people who may not not identify as either male or female.
Transgender people may feel more comfortable expressing themselves as a gender other than the gender born or assigned at birth. It might be neither male nor female but something else entirely! You may feel extremely uncomfortable with the gender-specific parts of your body. Transgender people might not feel uncomfortable with your gender-specific body parts and, at the same time, feel a deep need to have other body parts.
Being transgender is as normal as being alive. Many people in history have been transgender. You may interact with other transgender people every day and not know it! They are everywhere and have families, children, and careers and attend school. Certainly being transgender is not ‘typical’ and you may encounter many people who do not understand or feel uncomfortable or even discriminatory.
Questions about Gender Identity and being transgender
What is it like to be young and transgender?
Some young people who are transgender feel a great relief that they have discovered how they are most comfortable expressing themselves. Other youth feel frustrated at being discriminated against or because they aren’t yet able to transition. Still other people find that being transgender is just one part of who they are and that they mostly think about all the things that everyone else thinks about-school, dating, work and family.
What does transgender mean about my sexual orientation?
Being transgender has to do with your gender identity: how you feel about who you are. It has nothing to do with your sexual orientation: who you are attracted to. Some transgender people are attracted to men, to women, to both, to other transgender people or to people regardless of their gender expression.
People may define themselves with different labels, depending on who attracts them. For example a transgender women who is attracted to men may identify as straight because they are attracted to the opposite gender.
How do I learn to like myself?
If you have just discovered that you are transgender, remember that you are normal and you are likeable, just as you are. It is normal to feel nervous, excited or upset about the days ahead. Remember that something as amazing as knowing your true self can be great!
What does it mean to transition? Should I do it?
Some people who come out as transgender are comfortable telling a close circle of friends. Other people choose to change their name, their pronouns, their style of dress and their appearance to eb congruent with their gender identity. Still others choose to take hormones and have surgery to medically alter their appearance.
As you decide, which, if any steps to take, it can be helpful to talk about these feelings with a professional who is competent with gender identity issues. You should express yourself the way you feel most comfortable, without pressure from others. You can call to make an appointment to speak with our counselor around gender identity questions.
Medical transition, the taking of hormones and having one or more surgeries, is a big step. For some, it is absolutely necessary. Most people who choose to transition medically strongly need identity and body to match. To medically transition you must first see a therapist and find a physical who is knowledgeable about transgender health. Please contact Calgary Sexual Health for the most up to date resource list for therapists and doctors involved in transgender issues.
Who should I tell?
There is no obligation to tell anyone about your identity, but some people find it important to share their identity especially if you plan to transition publicly. If you decide to share your identity, first tell people with whom you are comfortable and that you feel will understand. They might include a trusted teacher, counselor, sister, brother, parent, friend or people at a youth group or gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people.
Some young people stop there and choose to transition more fully later in life, but other youth choose to begin to live full-time as their identified gender. If you choose to do this, you may need to come out to many different people. You should definitely look for support when going through this process, from a therapist, a youth group, friends, family and others.
What will happen when I come out?
Some people feel relieved and happy when they come out. Others feel as if they are thrown into a lion’s den, with challenges from parents, friends and family. You will most likely experience a bit of both. Some transgender youth may violence at school or in the home. Please make sure you have people you can talk to before you come out publicly, just for this reason. To make coming out easier, surround yourself with as much information, knowledge and support as possible.