“Being transgender is not a choice, choosing to hurt someone is.” These words rang true for me as soon as I saw them on a poster about the things trans people are put through all across the world.
A 2016 study found that 40% of trans people attempt suicide. Various other studies also reveal the numerous difficulties for trans people to confront in their daily life – such as bullying, and being harassed in public. As a transgender woman, I too have been through a lot of trauma and attempted self injuries several times. As with so many trans people, it takes time and support and courage to get ahead with their life. Trans people in India have to fight so many battles just to prove their existence, and it’s time we recognised the five biggest issues that need resolving.
Gender Identity Dysphoria means not identifying with the body/gender you’re born with and it is indeed a major issue for trans people. It includes the unsatisfactory feelings with your own body. In this state trans people don’t feel comfortable with their life, nothing feels right and usually suffer through trauma, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
Even though we are led to believe this, biological anatomy cannot define gender identity. It can be hard for cisgender folk to grasp this concept because according to their own experiences, they believe that the reason behind one’s gender identity is the biological sex. They belong to a particular gender according to how their body is distinguished – as ‘male’ or ‘female’. But in reality it’s much more complicated than that. Gender is how you identify yourself. And while cisgender people might take it for granted, trans people understands the concept of gender in a more nuanced way. Whether they transition or not, they can never escape the fact that they’re transgender, which can be intensely agonising.
Transphobia is a term for the abhorrent feeling towards trans people. Some people use everything from religion to political ideology to culture as a weapon to satisfy their aggression for something that doesn’t fit into their narrow-minded understanding of gender. They’re people who are incapable of accepting a trans person’s embodiment of femininity or masculinity.
And this has a death toll. The Trans Murder Monitor reports on killings of trans and gender diverse people between 2008 and 2015: “1,573 killings in 23 countries in Central and South America, which account for 78% of the globally reported murders; 179 killings in 16 Asian countries; 137 killings in North America; 112 killings in 16 European countries; 10 killings have been reported in 4 African countries; and 5 killings in 4 countries in Oceania.”
Research by the William’s Institute demonstrates other forms of transphobia reported by trans individuals. This includes rejection by family and friends (57%), discrimination at school or work (50-59%), victimization, being refused healthcare (60%), or facing violence at the hands of law enforcement (60-70%). The study also showed how transphobia also contributed to homelessness (69%). And all of this led to the prevalence of suicide attempts, such as those who experienced the following:
In our daily life, we’re shown that mostly everyone fantasises about someone as their lover: straight women are attracted to men, lesbian women are attracted to women, straight men are attracted to women, and gay men are attracted to men. Then who falls for trans people?
There’s not much choice left for trans people, unless the other person is pansexual (attraction to people regardless of their gender), transamorous (attraction particularly to transgender people), or ‘a chaser’ (desiring trans bodies as a fetish). And no one can blame anyone for this, because it’s what it is.
Take the example of a pre-op trans person who is in a gay relationship. They might come to the conclusion that they want to break up because their partner objects to their transitioning. After all, you can’t have a ‘gay relationship’ and live with your identity at the same time because in a same-sex relationship, you’re expected to play the role of same gender that you fall for.
Even if trans people jump through all the medical hoops, and are able to afford all the cosmetic surgeries, the Sex Reassignment Surgery, would it really have a positive impact on their chances of finding a partner? They can never deny their trans identity, which turns most people off in the first place.
Frankly there’s considered to be a huge difference between a cis and a trans person. In our society, cis people have privileges even in love and companionship.
Transitioning is the medical process of changing one’s physical appearance to correspond with one’s gender identity and expression. It’s not necessary that every trans person goes under the knife. Many gradually learn to accept their physical state, and start loving themselves. But for most trans folks it is the biggest dream – the only ray of hope which encourages them to be alive.
The process of transitioning includes psychiatric consultant, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), laser hair removal, facial feminization, breast augmentation or reduction, and sex reassignment operation. As with most major surgeries, there are risks. Hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, loss of bone density, fatigue, risk of diabetes, anemia and memory loss are the common side effects of hormones replacement therapy.
Another concern is the pace. Taking hormones is a slow process. Trans people may become impatient and overdose to see the consequences sooner than later. This can cause blockages in the heart, and in some cases can lead to death.
For trans people with very limited resources, it’s extremely difficult to gain access to hormones, to pass all the medical steps, buy all the cosmetics, and new clothes, when they have to worry about fulfilling their most basic needs, like food, shelter, and safety.
In general the authorities of public facilities require people to use washrooms that is compatible with the gender on their birth certificate, not the gender which they identify as. For trans people, this is a huge obstacle. Sometimes, they take action. For example, Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy from Virginia, filed a lawsuit against his school district for not being able to use the restroom that corresponds with the gender he identifies with.
Otherwise trans women are made to use the gents’ restroom, and trans men the ladies’ restroom. On the whole, this leads to an uncomfortable situation for both trans and cis people.
People who support this system say that trans people make public facilities (like washrooms) unsafe for cis folks. But actually, it’s trans people who face the viciousness, because there are a lot of cases where trans people were orally, physically and sexually harmed by cisgender people while there have been no case of a transgender person assaulting a cis person.
We all are human and all of us have our own problems, but we should try not to be the reason for some other person’s problem. We live in this world together and we need to expand the truth of others and share love in order to make this world a better place for every individual.