Gender identity describes an internal sense of whether one is male or female. When an individual is transgender, this feeling doesn't match their actual sex. Their body is male or female, but inside they feel that they are really the opposite sex. Many people feel "trapped" in the wrong body.
This feeling of being different may begin early in life. Many adults who are transgender remember noticing a difference as children between what their bodies looked like on the outside and what they felt on the inside. Other transgender people make this discovery as adults. Some individuals decide to make changes like surgery or hormones to alter their body. These changes are described as "transsexual."
It is also important to distinguish that some individuals use makeup, haircuts, or clothing styles to look like members of the other gender. Cross-dressing is not the same thing as being transgender. Cross-dressers may be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual.
Stigma, Shame, Discrimination and Fear Cause Many Stressors:
For both the transgender and the gay, lesbian and bi-sexual population, feeling isolated, different, odd, weird and sad can lead to depression. In some cases depression can lead to suicide. Transgender teens are especially susceptible to depression, suicide and suicide attempts. It is also important to address discrimination, fear, rejection, confusion and bullying. Transgender individuals may experience people who are discriminatory due to lack of information, biases and ignorance. Unfortunately, encounters can add to an already existing feeling of self-hatred, low esteem or depression.
Conversely, there are many supporters too. Additionally, there are thousands of people who share the same transgender and gay or lesbian status. They have experienced and even have learned to cope with the same problems, emotions and insecurities. These are the people to seek out and learn from! Below are some supportive suggestions for compassionate and understanding assistance: