Transgender Day of Visibility
A trans person is someone who feels that their gender identity does not correspond to the one they were given at birth.
We are all unique, and we are all individuals, but we all need community, friends, family and the support of others from time to time. There are many people that since early childhood know that they don’t identify with their birth gender, and some that come to this realisation later on in life. This is an area that is still relatively new to people’s perception and with it carries confusion and misconceptions which can lead to fear and judgement.
Trans is the ‘umbrella word’ that collectively captures the diversity of trans identities without limitations. It can refer to anyone that doesn’t identify with traditional gender boundaries either part-time or permanently. It is not linked to sexual orientation or to the process of undergoing surgery. Misconceptions about these aspects can play a part in how individuals try to figure out where they fit in, feel about themselves, about how they ‘should behave’ and what they ‘should be doing’.
Being trans can involve many different types of gender identity and covers a variety of life choices. This can include:
- Living permanently with a different gender identity
- Living part-time with a different gender identity
- Changing your appearance to reflect another identity through choice of clothes and other methods of presenting as your true self
- Partly or permanently changing the appearance of your body through hormone therapy and/or surgery
- Not conforming to any gender stereotypes: for example, a trans person who was born male who has facial feminising surgery and breast implants but does not want to have any lower body surgery
- Not transitioning but occasionally wearing clothes usually associated with the ‘opposite’ gender
- Being gender neutral and not wishing to present as either male or female
But, what does transgender mean in the day-to-day living of the majority of people? What does it need mean to the people that are working out how they perceive themselves? And how does it feel to live in an age where one finally has some freedom to do that?
Looking at the news recently, we see the appalling stories of misogyny and race/hate crimes, and we recognise that the way the whole community thinks, behaves, and acts matters significantly to help put a stop to this behaviour. Thankfully, the majority of people are kind, helpful and will not accept the mistreatment of others. They do not look at the victim or the receiver of the crime and think they need to change, to change their lifestyle, their decisions or their dress sense. But, when we see people trying to figure out their gender, trying to figure out whether they are non-binary or binary gay lesbian man or woman, do we really think it is their responsibility to figure out who they are, or is it maybe an area that society needs to evaluate?
Our long-standing perception of what makes a male and what makes a female essentially puts male on one side and female on the other. However, the perception of that gap is shifting and realisation that the genders morph into each other.
Maybe non-binary is not a gender but a perception, a perception of what it is to be male or female. It is our perception that needs to shift to align with the reality of people’s experiences, the reality that meets all the people that are struggling with their identity and seeking to find out where they fit, and how they want to be perceived in the world.
We have reached a new age. We are at the beginning of a new millennium and the one thing that has come out of the last 20 years is the desire and need for inclusivity. And to put it much more eloquently than myself, here’s a quote from former American Buddhist feminist, scholar of religions and author, Rita M. Gross:
“If one does not make an ego out of gender, one would still know whether one is a man or a woman, gay, straight, bisexual, transexual – whatever else we may think of. But those identities need to fit very loosely and be worn very lightly. All sense of privilege or deprivation that has developed around one’s gender identity, all rigidity regarding proper roles and behaviours for the various genders, must be cut through.”
For people who currently identify as trans or who are beginning to explore their gender identity, you can click on this NHS link for more information.
Through my work, I’m grateful to have treated many trans patients with medical tattooing and recognise the journey they have been on. Surgery may have left visible scarring and a few extra touches can enhance confidence and camouflage the scarring.