Safe Zone - Transgendered
Transgender is a very broad term including all individuals who step outside the lines of gender expression "typical" of their birth sex.
Differences in Sex, Gender, and the expression of sexuality
Most individuals, when it comes to their gender, sex, and sexuality do not always lie on one end of the spectrum, but somewhere in the middle. Today's culture leaves little room for androgynous individuals. Yet, as you can see, every person's gender/sex/sexuality is very personal, complex, and quite unique to them.
At birth individuals can be born either solely male, solely female or somewhere in between; those in the middle are usually referred to as intersexed. With changes (either chosen or unchosen) a person can move along this spectrum.
A person's gender includes:
IDENTITY - How one views him/herself in relation to how society defines a man or a woman.
EXPRESSION - The way one allows others to view him/her
ATTRIBUTION - What someone assumes about your gender when they look at you
An individual, again, may fall anywhere along these spectra.
Sexuality (sexual/affectional orientation, in other words, who you are attracted to) also varies greatly individual to individual. If you think of men being on one side of the spectrum and women being on the other, it may be males/females that the person is attracted to, or is it really masculinity/femininity? For someone in the middle of the spectrum, are gender variant individuals attractive to you?
Adapted from Transgender youth. Retrieved online from users.wpi.edu/~bilaga/safezone/index.html on Jan 22, 2003.
To put it simply, transgender youth challenge gender. When we are born we are labeled as male or female, and are prepared by society to live our lives accordingly. Our lives, bodies, and gender are more complex than this. Some people born with "female bodies" experience their gender as male, and vice-versa. Others don't experience gender as male or female at all.
We must recognize that no two persons experience gender the same way. Transgender youth may identify as shapeshifters, non-male/non-female, intersex, butch queens, boy dykes, two-spirits, femme queens, boy-girls, transvestites, crossdressers, gender queers, bigenders, transsexuals, FTM's (female-to-male), MTF's (male-to-female), new women, new men, transgressively gendered...and so on.
Many FTM (female-to-male) transgendered people do not undergo genital surgery, often because of disappointing results or extreme costs. As surgical techniques improve, this may change. Since it is healthier for these people to live in accord with their wishes and heartfelt need, they should be referred to as men, though they may have a vagina instead of a penis.
The situation for MTF (male-to-female) transgendered people is equivalent, except that the surgery produces a much more satisfying result both cosmetically and functionally. Nonetheless, many MTF gender variant people elect not to have surgery, most often because of risk, pain, or cost. Those who retain male sexual functioning may refer to themselves as transgenderists, since it is only their gender which is changed. Those that disown all male sexual function (surgery or not) tend to identify as transsexuals, since they change their sexual function and their sexual identity.
The Transgender Community often refers to a loose association of people who transgress gender norms in a wide variety of ways. Celebrating recently born self-awareness, this community is growing fast across all lines, including social, economic, political, and philosophical divisions. The central ethic of this community is unconditional acceptance of an individuals exercise of freedoms, including gender and sexual identity/orientation.
Adapted from: "Transgender Youth," National Youth Advocacy Coalition. Retrieved online from users.wpi.edu/~bilaga/safezone/index.html
Mycroft Holmes, Bagly. Transgenderism: Transgressing gender norms, by Nangeroni, Intnl. Retrieved online from orgs.jmu.edu/safezones.htm.
Things non-transgender person take for granted
My validity as a man/woman/human is not based upon how much surgery I've had or how well I "pass" as a non-trans person.
I don't have to hear "so have you had THE surgery?" or "Oh, so you're REALLY a [incorrect sex or gender]?" each time I come out to someone.
Strangers do not ask me what my "real name" (birth name) is and then assume they have a right to call me by that name.
People do not disrespect me by using incorrect pronouns even after they've been corrected.
I do not have to worry about whether I will be able to find a bathroom to use or whether I will be safe changing in a locker room.
When I go to the gym or a public pool, I can use the showers.
I do not have to defend my right to be a part of "Queer," and gays and lesbians will not try to exclude me from OUR movement in order to gain political legitimacy for themselves.
Strangers don't assume they can ask me what my genitals look like and how I have sex.
If I end up in the emergency room, I do not have to worry that my gender will keep me from receiving appropriate treatment, nor will all of my medical issues be seen as a product of my gender.
My health insurance provider (or public health system) does not specifically exclude me from receiving benefits or treatments available to others because of my gender.
When I express my internal identities in my daily life, I am not considered "mentally ill" by the medical establishment.
I am not required to undergo extensive psychological evaluation in order to receive basic medical care.
The medical establishment does not serve as a "gatekeeper" which disallows self-determination of what happens to my body.
Adapted from Worcester Polytechnic Institute users.wpi.edu/~bilaga/safezone/index.html on Jan. 28, 2010.