What is Transgender?
Transgender / Trans-Individual is a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex assigned at birth. Gender identity is a person’s internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or someone outside of that gender binary), and this is developed in childhood, becoming firmly established by age 4 years. For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal gender identity do not match.
People in the transgender community may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms, including transgender, transsexual, trans-individual and genderqueer.
Trying to change a person’s gender identity is no more successful than trying to change a person’s sexual orientation — it doesn’t work. So most transgender people seek to bring their bodies more into harmony with their gender identity.
Gender Identity Disorder
Many people who experience dissonance between their gender identity and the sex assigned at birth are diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder some of whom will suffer from Gender Dysphoria. Many of these individuals will seek to change their gender presentation to bring it into harmony with their gender identity. This process is known as “transition”. Transitioning may involve various types of medical treatment, to bring a person’s physical characteristics more in line with their gender identity and presentation.
The UK NHS uses the mental-health diagnosis of “gender dysphoria”, which is defined as the experiencing of discomfort or distress because there is a mismatch between one’s biological sex, assigned at birth and one’s gender identity.
Many transgender people are prescribed hormones by their doctor to change their bodies and enhance their desired gender, at the same time suppressing undesired effects of their body’s natural hormones. Some undergo surgery as well. Not all transgender people can or will take all of these steps, and it’s important to know however, that transitioning need not involve any form of medical intervention.
The term Affirmed Gender is now preferred for a trans persons gender after transition.
Many trans individuals experience abuse, violence and discrimination before and during their transitioning. It is a sobering and distressing fact that in the UK, about half of young trans people and a third of adult trans individuals report that they have attempted suicide before transitioning.
WPATH Identity Recognition Statement
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) recognizes that, for optimal physical and mental health, persons must be able to freely express their gender identity, whether or not that identity conforms to the expectations of others. WPATH further recognizes the right of all people to identity documents consistent with their gender identity, including those documents which confer legal gender status. Such documents are essential to the ability of all people to enjoy rights and opportunities equal to those available to others; to access accommodation, education, employment, and health care; to travel; to navigate everyday transactions; and to enjoy safety. Transgender people, regardless of how they identify or appear, should enjoy the gender recognition all persons expect and deserve.
Medical and other barriers to gender recognition for transgender individuals may harm physical and mental health. WPATH opposes all medical requirements that act as barriers to those wishing to change legal sex or gender markers on documents. These include requirements for diagnosis, counseling or therapy, puberty blockers, hormones, any form of surgery (including that which involves sterilization), or any other requirements for any form of clinical treatment or letters from doctors. WPATH argues that marital and parental status should not be barriers to recognition of gender change, and opposes requirements for persons to undergo periods living in their affirmed gender, or for enforced waiting or ‘cooling off’ periods after applying for a change in documents. Further, court and judicial hearings can produce psychological, as well as financial and logistical barriers to legal gender change, and may also violate personal privacy rights or needs.
WPATH advocates that appropriate gender recognition should be available to transgender youth, including those who are under the age of majority, as well as to individuals who are incarcerated or institutionalized. WPATH recognizes that there is a spectrum of gender identities, and that choices of identity limited to Male or Female may be inadequate to reflect all gender identities. An option of X, NB (non-binary), or Other (as examples) should be available for individuals who so choose.
WPATH urges governments to eliminate barriers to gender recognition, and to institute transparent, affordable and otherwise accessible administrative procedures affirming self-determination, when gender markers on identity documents are considered necessary. These procedures should be based in law and protect privacy.