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Human sexuality topics

Menu

Transgender persons and transsexuals:
Their beliefs about gender identity.
What is the cause(s) of their belief?
Are they just confused?
News about equality and civil rights.

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The term "LGBT" is an acronym for "Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals,
transgender persons/Transsexuals. Sometimes, additional letters
are added, like "Q" for Queer or questioning, "I" for Intersexual.

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transgende symbol

One of many transgender symbols.

Note about terminology:

Prior to 2012, the terms "Gender Identity Disorder" and "GID" were
used to describe the internal conflict experienced by transgender
and transsexual persons. This term has since been
regarded as
stigmatizing
because of the presence of the word "Disorder."
The new, generally accepted term is "Gender Dysphoria."
"Dysphoria" is a psychiatric term that means: "a state of unease
or generalized dissatisfaction with life."

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Male to female transgender individual

An unknown MTF transgender woman. She was identified as male at birth and now identifies as female.

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A brief overview about what being "transgender" or "transsexual" is all about:

As is usual with matters related to human sexuality, two major, opposing, conflicting, and incompatible belief systems exist concerning gender.

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1. Beliefs of most members of the medical community, religious liberals, secularists, and the LGBTI community:

The term "LGBTI" refers to Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender persons and Transsexuals and Intersexuals.

A gender identity counselor in Boulder, CO once explained the term "transgender" to Elsa, a 9-year-old. She had been assigned a male gender on her birth certificate but started to identify herself as female as soon as she could speak. The counselor said, simply:

"You are talking about how you feel inside. Others are talking about your body. Those are two different things." 1

In essence, being transgender involves a relatively rare conflict between a person's current gender identity -- what they sincerely now believe their gender to be -- and their birth identified gender -- the gender that a doctor placed on their birth certificate shortly after they were born.

The conflict has a simple cause. Humans have two sets of different structures located in two separate areas of their body that are involved with gender.

  • One pair of structures are inside the brain; they are either male or female in design and determine the person's gender identity.

  • The other set are external, located in the person's perineum area (often euphemistically called "private parts"). They are also either male or female, and determine the person's birth-identified gender. This can usually be determined with good accuracy via routine ultrasound testing before birth. If modern, high resolution instruments are used. the embryo's gender can often be detectable as early as 12 weeks gestation.

  • For about 994 of every 1,000 persons, the gender of the internal and external structures match. They are referred to as being cisgender. For about 6 of every 1,000 persons, the gender does not match. They are transgender.

As adults:

  • Many transgender persons explain their situation as being a female trapped in a male's body, or vice-versa.

  • Some explain that they have a female brain in a man's body, or vice versa. This is literally true.

  • A minority of transgender persons identify themselves as not fitting into either gender. 1

  • Another minority of transgender persons describe themselves as "gender fluid." They switch identify between male and female from time to time.

Most liberals, human sexuality researchers, etc. note that the cure rate for transgender persons through counseling, therapy, prayer, etc. has been zero or essentially zero. They refer to a transgender person as a her or him, as a female or male, and by their present name, according to their current gender identity.

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2. Definitions used by many religious conservatives and some others:

They note that the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. Old Testament) describe how God created Adam as a male and Eve as a female. Many conservatives feel that God restricted people of each gender to specific roles in the family, faith group, government, and other areas of life. For example, the Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. Old Testament) specifies that only men could become priests. Women were not allowed to testify in court. If a father sold a daughter into slavery, she would be a slave forever; if he sold his son, he would become free after many years as a slave. If a woman were found to not be a virgin on her wedding night she would be stoned to death. No similar requirement was in place for non-virgin men.

Religious conservatives may feel threatened by thoughts of a newborn being apparently created by God as being of one gender and then observing that person change their gender identity later in life.

Many conservatives refer to transgender persons as being "gender confused." They see every person's having their gender identified at birth and remaining that gender throughout their life. The term implies that the person is best "cured" through counseling or therapy, so that they will recognize what their actual gender is and accept it.

Religious conservatives generally refer to a transgender person as a she or he, her or his, female or male, according to their birth-identified gender. They use the name of the transgender person that was assigned to them at birth.

In 2016, these beliefs motivated some Republican legislators in North Carolina to create a "bathroom bill." It restricts people to use only public washrooms that match the gender on their birth certificate. Thus a transgender woman who was identified as male at birth, who now identifies as female, who appears female, who wears female clothing, and who has female mannerisms, must use only the men's washroom. That is almost guaranteed to create a disturbance -- perhaps a violent one.

Similar bills have been introduced in other states.

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Cisgender persons:

The vast majority of adults, about 99.4%, have no such conflict. They are referred to as cisgender.

  • About half have genital and brain structures that are both female. They are identified as female at birth and self-identify as female throughout life.

  • The rest have genital and brain structures that are both male. They are identified as male at birth and self-identify as male throughout life.

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An exception to the above description:

The above description is accurate for the vast majority of newborns. However, it partly breaks down with persons who are intersexual. These are individuals who are born with structures in their perineum area which differ from the typical male or female design. They generally have structures that are part female and part male. The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) stated -- before it closed its offices in 2008:

"While the 'male' and 'female' types are relatively common, nature presents a full range of sex types, and people decide where the line should be drawn between 'female' and 'intersex' or 'intersex' and 'male.' That said, we do know that about 1 in 2,000 children is born with genitals that are pretty confusing to all the adults in the room. We know this from the statistics of how many newborn babies are referred to 'gender identity teams' in major hospitals."

Thus there is no method of defining what percentage of newborns are intersex.

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Sponsored link.

Topics covered in this section:

bullet

star The root causes and resolutions of three major current religious/secular conflicts: gender identity, abortion access, and sexual orientation:

bullet Background information: << Please read this material first

bullet

A brief overview of transgender persons and transsexuals: Conflicts, suicide rate, photographs, videos...


bullet

star  A more complete introduction in two parts: Additional information; discussion of gender; beliefs about the nature of transgender; dialog; About Kat, a transgender youth; a family led by two transgender parents; the future of transgender/transsexual debate....


bullet Detailed information about transgender persons, transsexuals, etc.

bullet Understanding the terminology associated with being transgender & transsexual:
bullet 2014-FEB: Facebook changed how members define their gender identity. Contrasting views of gender identity. How there can be dozens of gender identities based on only two genders

bullet Possible cause(s) of transsexuality:

bullet star  Beliefs by conservative Christians, medical researchers, etc. about why transsexuals reject their birth-identified gender (2 parts)

bullet Fetal exposure to abnormal androgen levels?

bullet Genetically determined at conception?
 
bullet Causes of, and cures for, transsexuality according to religious groups:

bullet

Beliefs of conservative Protestant groups: Part 1  Part 2


bullet Beliefs of individual Christians

bullet Terms and concepts used by evangelicals

bullet Teachings of the Roman Catholic church: Part 1  Part 2
 
bullet Bible passages which may impact transgender/transsexual topics
 
bullet

star Estimates of the number of transgender persons in the U.S.
 

bullet Transsexuals in history
 
bullet Transitioning from female to male or vice versa
 
bullet Transitioning success rates
 
bullet

How a lack of consensus about gender identity harms transgender individuals. Webmaster's rant 
 

bullet Using medication to delay puberty in transgender pre-teens and teens
 
bullet Is transsexuality linked to homosexuality?

bullet Involuntary sexual reassignment of infants: Creating transgender persons via surgery

bullet Discrimination against transgender persons & transsexuals:

bullet Resolutions by the American Medical Association and American Psychological Association

bullet Homelessness

bullet Personal stories of success and difficulties transitioning

bullet

Discrimination against transgender persons and transsexuals in the military:

  • Part 1: 2011/2012: Overview. Support. Current military policies. Care for veterans.

  • Part 2: 2016: Previous ends to discrimination by the military. Pentagon announces an end to discrimination against transgender members. Negative reactions.

  • Part 3: 2016: More negative reactions to the ending of discrimination. Positive reactions.
bullet

Ending employment discrimination due to sexual orientation or gender identity (The federal ENDA bill)


bullet

Title IX religious exemptions, religious colleges, and discrimination against the LGBT community

bullet

Studies and polls about transgender persons:

bullet
bullet

Acceptance and rejection within religious denominations:

bullet Political and religious conflicts over sexual orientation & gender identity. Are they resolvable?

bullet Anti-discrimination laws across the U.S.

bullet Laws in other countries that oppress or protect LGBT persons

bullet International declarations on the rights of LGBT persons
 
bullet Glossary of terms relating to transgender persons:

bullet Words beginning with A to S

bullet Words beginning from T to Z
 
bullet
bullet Transsexual information sources:

bullet Web sites.

bullet Reviews of two books selected as recommended books by this web site.

bullet Books for transsexuals, their families, and co-workers.

bullet Biographies, books on transsexuality, books for therapists, etc.
 
bullet

News & major transgender/transsexual developments:

Note: Movement towards equal rights for transgender persons and transsexuals proceeded slowly until mid 2015. That was when religious, political, and social conservatives lost their fight against gay marriage in the U.S. Conservatives then switched their main focus to fighting against transgender equality.

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Sponsored link:

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. Jennifer Brown, "Elsa's Story: Family learns to let girl live as 'truegender'," Denver Post, 2015-JUL-17, at: http://extras.denverpost.com/
  2. Joseph Woo, "Special FAQ on the gender of the fetus," Obsetric Ultrasound, undated, at: http://www.ob-ultrasound.net/
  3. "MYTH #10: Intersex is extremely rare," Intersex Society of North America, 2008, at: http://www.isna.org/
  4. Zachary Green, "Transforming History: Transgender issues today are rooted in a decades-long struggle for inclusion," RetroReport/New York Times, 2015-JUN-15, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  5. "My authentic life," Transgender Law Center, 2014-MAY-01, at: https://www.youtube.com/ The first video has been watched by about 120,000 viewers during its first year online at YouTube.
  6. Tom Murray produced and directed a video concerning transsexuality. It is titled: "Almost Myself: Reflections on mending and transcending gender." See: http://www.almostmyself.com/

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Copyright © 2007 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2007-JUN-08
Latest revision: 2016-NOV-21

Author: B.A. Robinson

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