This article was written by an author represented anonymously for reasons of personal security.
I am transgender, specifically a transsexual man. I felt male ever since I was young, but I had no idea why and I felt like I was cursed to live forever as a girl. Until I was nineteen, I had no idea what transgender or transsexual meant.
When I initially found out about what transgender meant, I was in deep denial. Why? Since a young age the media has always portrayed transgender people in a negative light. Growing up, the only thing I heard about transgender people was that they were cross-dressers, trannies, freaks and sexual predators.
When my depression became too much to handle and I was approaching an age where I felt being seen as a boy or as androgynous no long was bearable, I started to do heavy research. I then realized that there was a possibility to medically transition so that I could look on the outside how I felt on the inside. I had no idea there were actually successful, happy people that could actually transition medically.
Fast-forward four years of hardship, enlightenment, rejection, approval, strength and growth and here I am today. I have been on hormones for over three years now and had chest reconstruction surgery. I am in my final year of undergrad as a mechanical engineering major and I currently intern for an international company. I feel happier than I ever have in my entire life. I finally feel comfortable when I go out in public, I feel comfortable in my interactions with other people and I feel hopeful for the future.
Despite this optimism, I still face many hardships and challenges because I am transgender. One of my biggest struggles is with dysphoria. Even though I am generally happy, I still sometimes face great uneasiness with my body, especially since I have not had “bottom surgery.” I also have to deal with dating and determining when to tell the people I date that I am transgender. I often worry about how they will react when I put myself out there. As I just want to be seen as a normal man, I don’t disclose my transgender status unless I am really close to someone or I am considering dating the person. With this being said, I still have some close friends I have not told I am transgender and I struggle with this sometimes.
Society’s Potential Role
These reflections help reveal what society can do to treat transgender people with respect as equals. Representation of transgender people in the media is still very scarce; and although this past year has been a great step forward, we still need role models not only for other trans people to look up to, but for everyone to relate to and understand. People who have not met transgender people or have a negative view of them need to be able to see real, successful transgender people living as others do.
One of the biggest problems the transgender community faces is ignorance and confusion. Many times I have heard people mistake transgender females with cross-dressers, showing a lack of knowledge. Another thing I’ve heard is that we are all sexual predators and that is why we want to use a different bathroom. They don’t understand that I want to use the men’s restroom because I have to go to the bathroom and do my business, like every other human in this world, just as a transgender female wants to use the women’s restroom.
Additionally, the pronouns and the name that a transgender person uses are two simple but important things. For example, when I began to transition I had to tell everyone to call me “he” and by my new name “Michael.” Luckily for me, my family was supportive, but this is not the case in so many families. Although it took a little time to get used to, my family always referred to me as a “he” and called me by my name.
Another commonly forgotten issue is transgender healthcare. There have been many instances in which doctors refuse to treat patients just because they are transgender, or if they do treat them, the patient is met with ridicule from the very people who should be making them feel safe and comfortable. Most health insurance plans still specifically exclude transgender related services such as hormone treatment and surgery. This exclusion results from outdated views that any treatment related to transgender surgery is “cosmetic or elective.” It has been previously stated by the medical community that medical transition is necessary. I can’t speak for all transgender people but for me and many others surgery is needed in order to live a normal life. For example, I want to have “bottom surgery,” but since it is not covered by my health insurance, I feel helpless because this surgery ranges from $15,000 to $35,000.
These are basic things that our country and society can work towards changing so that transgender people can have the same chance as everyone else in leading normal, happy lives. If you met me you would not know I was transgender, you would not think of me any differently than any other person, and you may even find yourself becoming friends with me. The only difference is that I can face legal discrimination in employment, healthcare, and society in general due to fact that I am transgender, which you wouldn’t know unless I told you.