In today’s day in age, different sexualities and gender identities are quickly becoming more accepted in mainstream society. Despite this change, there are many people who believe that having a different sexual orientation or gender identity is a choice that is frowned upon. Such a confusion leads to marginalising the less represented part of the community – transgenders. Believe it or not but people still believe that the LGBTQ community is a sham and is going against “God’s nature” .
UNDERSTANDING THE TERM:
Transgender is an umbrella term that covers a lot of variations in gender. Most commonly occurring ones are
a) Trans women and trans men, who can be :
Heterosexual- A heterosexual person is attracted to people of the opposite sex
Bisexual- Bisexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or sexual behavior toward both males and females, or to more than one sex or gender
Homosexual- Homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender.
Asexual- A person without sexual feelings or associations.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SEX AND GENDER:
Gender is not based on physical attributes. Sex is the word that should be used when speaking about biological characteristics! Gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of being male, female or something else; gender expression refers to the way a person communicates gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, voice or body characteristics. Some studies go as far as arguing that ‘sex’ is biological but ‘gender’ is a socially created construct. According to Wikipedia’s definition,denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex. Being transgender means, not being comfortable with the sex one is born with and finding solace in the opposite gender’s identity instead.
NOT JUST A CHOICE:
Many experts believe that biological factors such as genetic influences and prenatal hormone levels, early experiences, and experiences later in adolescence or adulthood may all contribute to the development of transgender identities.Transgender people experience their transgender identity in a variety of ways for example : not being okay with how people see them differently than they wish to be seen, and feeling that their body exists in a state other than what they want to exist in. Some of them have clear physical attributes (incomplete reproductive organs or a lack thereof) which makes them choose the trans path. Some have vague feelings of “not fitting in” with people of their assigned sex or specific wishes to be something other than their assigned sex. Some embrace their transgender feelings, while others struggle with feelings of shame or confusion.
THE GENDER REASSIGNMENT METHOD:
Gender reassignment can be done in many ways including hormonal and surgical procedures or completely transforming an individual’s body to match a specific gender. There has been much debate on “why gender reassignment doesn’t work” but a much sane explanation negates that! They argue that those who identify as the opposite gender and undergo transition later in life may have struggled to fit in and later face dissatisfaction with their lives. This explains rumors of Caitlyn Jenner (previously known as Bruce Jenner) wanting to go back to being a man!
These individuals often seek gender-affirming treatments hence proving that going the trans road is NOT as easy of a choice as people make it out to be.
Celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner, Ruby Rose, Laverne Cox have been under constant allegations of “pulling off a gender change stunt” as just a cry for attention. This obviously reiterates the fact that our society tends to be insensitive and turns a blind eye to issues that their minds can’t grasp.
IS THIS A MENTAL ILLNESS? :
A psychological state is considered a mental disorder ONLY if it causes significant distress or disability. Gender dysmorphia is not disabling, which implies that identifying as transgender is NOT a mental disorder. For these individuals, the problem is finding affordable resources, such as counseling, hormone therapy, medical procedures and the social support necessary to freely express their gender identity and minimize discrimination.
THE BIGGER PICTURE :
For ages transgenders have been mainly hidden minority, afraid to come out for fear of losing their families, friends, jobs and much more. Recent international equality law has helped them but it is still not a decision that people make lightly.
TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY IN PAKISTAN:
On the other, transgender community in the less developed nations of the world are still fighting for basic human rights and suffering severe discrimination. Trans people are typically cast out by their families, and many of the estimated 500,000 in the country end up as beggars or sex workers. Only a few that hail from literate background end up surviving as a normal individual in the society. The extent of marginalisation if this community is to the point that their existence is considered a social taboo. Hospitals across the country have links with the transgender community and it’s representatives. In case of a birth defect that confuses the child’s sex, the child is immediately given to the members of this community. The general attitude towards this community leads families to disown such individuals in case their new born happens to be a part of them! Often considered the forgotten component of the LGBTQ community – for decades trans people have been ridiculed and misunderstood by many in society. However a recent, media interest in the subject is helping to put the trans community firmly in the spotlight. But is this visibility necessarily translating to a shift in attitudes and acceptance of this long marginalised community?