“You shudder in front of the abyss.
It is the same when you feel the difference that separates you from the other one.”
(Titu Liviu Maiorescu)
Transgender (TG) is an umbrella term under which different varieties of gender identity gather. In this category are those who do not feel comfortable or feel that they do not correspond, by image or behavioral, to the norms of a particular sexual gender: transvestites, transgenders, intersex persons (hermaphrodites), effeminate men, masculine women, etc.
To deepen transgender issues, it is necessary first the delineation of key concepts, such as biological sex, gender identity and gender roles. Understanding how these basic components of human sexuality interact, we can build a theoretical framework for the analysis and understanding of transgender issues.
Sex refers to biological characteristics (internal and external sex organs, specific hormonal proportions, genetic dowry etc.) on which human beings are classified as female or male. A person's sex can be determined in several ways. We can primarily speak about genetic sex (cromozomian) which is identified by the presence of genotype XX (for women) or XY (for men) in somatic cells. There are also gonadal gender reffering to the gonadic type tissue (of sexual glands): ovarian or testicular. Morphological sex is determined by the anatomy of external genitalis (penis or vagina). Finally, phenotypic sex refers to secondary sexual characteristics caused by endocrine influences (the action of sex hormones: testosterone, progesterone, estrogen).
Do not confuse sex with gender, which is a concept reffering to social differences (as opposed to biological ones) between men and women, issues that are acquired over time and likely to change in time, knowing wide variations both within the same culture, and in different cultures.
In the past, it was thought that male or female psychological and social attitudes would directly have to do with biological sex, and had the same innate nature. Consequently, to be born a woman means not only having a certain anatomy and a certain hormone balance, but also to have some traits and behaviors considered typical for the respective gender, and removal of these standards mean falling in the anomaly sphere, of abnormality. Nowadays, psychology considers gender as an acquired social evolution, not innate and very dependent on cultural particularities specific to a historical phase of society. Behaviours considered tipically male or female, are in fact gender roles, meaning dominant manifestations that society associates with each sex. These include legal rights and responsibilities for men and women in a given community setting. Gender roles imply a mix of behaviors, psychological attitudes, norms and values that people (on average) determine as male or female. But what is masculine though in a society can be considered feminine in another... in different historical moments or during the same period. An interesting example is referred to by the American anthropologist Margaret Mead regarding a tribe in Papua New Guinea, where in the twentieth century gender roles were diametrically opposed to those of “civilized” society (men were considered sensitive and attached to the house, while women worked, hunted and were considered as pragmatic, rational).
Gender identity. Gender identity is another essential concept for understanding the transgender question. This represents the individual feeling of masculinity or femininity itself, determined by psychological, social factors as well as by attitudes or behaviors acquired in the family or cultural environment. It is difficult to argue that gender identity is predominantly innate. On the one hand supporters of the theory of social learning consider that gender identity develops with the imitation and internalization of models or gender roles that parents, the extended family and the social environment offers. On the other hand, supporters of biological theories cite the example of intersexual people (hermaphrodites) operated at birth to maintain only the characteristics of a sex and who, at maturity, do not identify with the gender assigned to them. It is very probable that the truth is between the two, where the innate and acquired categories intersect. Be that as it may, regardless of the genesis of gender identity, it is certain that it forms very early and ends when it reaches the age of three. It is part of the very image of a person and can not be changed. It is a psychological constant in a person's self-definition.
To understand transgenderness, one must move away from the limits of the binary system of evaluation, which abstractly separates all people into men or women. This may be the reality of the vast majority of the population, but not of the entire population. A person's biological sex does not always correspond to their gender identity (it is possible that some people have a gender identity opposite to their sexual anatomy), and gender identity can not always be strictly defined as male or female, since not all can fully identify with one of these categories.
It is also important not to confuse transgenderness with sexual orientation. The term transgender refers to the feeling of belonging to a particular gender, while sexual orientation is the erotic attraction to people of a certain sexual category. Transgender people can be heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual or even asexual... depending on the gender of people for whom they feel erotic and interpersonal attraction or not. When we refer to a transgender person's sexual orientation, the temptation to categorize him/her according to his/her biological sex is big, but it is not the best prospect. It is necessary to respect how each person defines his sexual orientation, according to his own identity. Thus, a transsexual with feminine gender identity (but born with biologically male sex) who is attracted to men, it is in fact heterosexual, not gay (as he is often labeled both by profanes, as well as by some “experts” in the field of social and medical sciences).
It is always essential to remember that we are dealing with human beings... not with abstract things and scientific concepts.
Transgender identity. This includes several categories whose boundaries sometimes overlap. Thus we can speak of transgenders, transvestites (drag queens and drag kings), androgynous, bigender or persons considered neutral in terms of gender (genderqueer). Also, intersex subjects (hermaphrodites) are included in the category transgender. Those who practice transvestite fetishism, however, are not considered to be transgender (as transvestite fetishism is a paraphilia, an alternative and atypical form of sexuality and not a gender identity. Transvestite fetishism refers to sexual interest in people to transvestiteand to people that travestite solely for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification).
Here is a brief overview of these categories of individuals:
Transsexual (TS). It is the term used to define a person who feels that his/her body does not match his/her gender identity. General expression that define TS people is “woman trapped in a man's body” or “man trapped in a female body”. Transgender people are male-to-female and female-to-male. Often transgender people live a deep emotional state of emotional discomfort due to incongruence between gender identity and their body. Many transgender people want to resort to medical procedures and legal sex reassignment, so they can lead a life according to their own self-image and gender identity. The process is lengthy and involves both hormonal treatment (in the first phase) and surgery (some repeated several times). Often before surgery it is also required a psychological evaluation. Legal procedures to change gender and name on the birth certificate differs from one country to another.
Not all transgender people choose to use the procedures (surgery) for the reassignment of gender, for various personal reasons. Thus, we can differentiate between pre-operated transsexuals (those who have not yet resorted to surgery but want to do so), post-operated (those who successfully completed gender reassignment) and the non-operated (who decide to refrain from this procedure).
Transvestite (TV). It is a term that means someone who “borrows” occasionally through clothing or other attributes or accessories, another gender role than the one they have (naturally). Some are doing so in harmony with their sexual practices, but there are examples where the phenomenon is more an act generated by the feeling that gender roles are too limiting. In short... a kind of “theatrical” entertainment sustained for seasoning sexuality. The transvestite is not bound to the sexual orientation, this fact being met both with gay and heterosexual persons.
Drag kings and drag queens. They are people who travesty for some certain special occasions such as various shows, cultural events etc. Drag kings are women who are disguised as men, drag queens are men masquerading as women. Travesty in the form of art, has a long tradition in the gay community and is a real art show.
Intersexualii. These people have an atypical development of the reproductive and sexual system. This may mean, for example, that external genital organs can not be clearly determined at birth as male or female, that internal sex organs are incompletely or atypically developed, that there are sexual chromosome abnormalities or that sexual hormones are not within the specific proportions of male or female gender.
The phenomenon may be discovered at birth or later during puberty or adulthood. When intersexuality is discovered at birth, it is often resorting to surgery to correct sex. Usually, this is done with the consent or at the request of parents (after consulting a specialist) but the International Intersexuals activists say that in many cases parents are not fully informed, and the decision to intervene surgically is taken somewhat abusive by physicians. Assigned sex is what appears to be dominant. Male gender is generally preferred, if possible anatomic, from reasons related more to avoid the idea of amputation (irreversible). Reaching adolescence, some intersex people do not identify with the gender assigned and call to other procedures (still surgical) to correct this dysfunction. Others believe they are androgynous or not defined by any genre.
Not everyone can be included in the category of transgender, as there are also cases in which they feel no incongruity between the gender that have been assigned and their gender identity.
Androgynous people. There are people who believe that they can not fit within the strict patterns differentiated by gender. Their identity includes a mixture of masculine and feminine. They identify themselves as “somewhere between man and woman” within psychological terms or as neither male nor female.
Bigender people. Such individuals are characterized by adopting alternative and fluctuating attitudes, behaviors and expressions of gender, constantly oscillating between the idea of male and female. The difference from androgynous people, is that the latter maintain a constant set of gender behaviors (specific to both genders), while those bigender, change their behavior and gender expressions, consciously or unconsciously, from one situation to another, from time to another.
Queer. It is the term used to define a perspective that questions the idea that in reality there fixed categories related to sexuality or gender, about who we are or how we should live. It is an attitude based on a new vision of life, a vision that rejects the rules and predetermined roles about gender, love, sex and relationships. Queer attitude rejects the binary gender system and heteronormality.
These categorized markers, are definitely an indispensable knowledge instrument, but used in excess, that increase the tendency to consider transgender people as exotic specimens, different from the average of human population. In reality, the only difference is related to how they express their own gender identity. Transgender persons are primarily people and have the same needs, desires, aspirations and emotions as the rest of humanity. The same need for affection, love, personal safety, respect and professional accomplishment or intimate.
Transgender people are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, moms and dads, friends, neighbors, colleagues, athletes, actors, musicians, engineers, doctors, scientists... In no case we can reduce a number of individuals, only to the size of their gender identity.
To live in a free world, it is necessary to put an end to all forms of discrimination and acts of violence against various social groups, including those of transgender people. We all have the same fundamental rights and are just the same entitled as anyone else to be able to lead a life that allows us personal, social, relational and professional development and fulfillment.
Freedom of gender, which transgender people embody, as well as any other form of freedom expression, is a good that all mankind should enjoy!!!