I’ve wanted to write this entry for a long time but never actually got around to doing it, until now. In this post, I’m going to talk about the most common misconceptions people have, in regards to myself being a transsexual and other transgender & transsexual individuals.
Before I get started, I do feel the need to mention that I don’t hold these misconceptions, against those that have asked them or shown curiosity. Curiosity is much better than ignorance, if somebody genuinely wants to know more about what ‘transgender’ means, I am more than happy to talk about it with them.
The largest misconceptions I’ve found people to have, is the automatic assumption that ‘transgender’ is a sexuality, or a fetish. It’s neither.
Starting with sexuality, I have been asked more times than I care to count, if I am now interested in men, because I’m transitioning from male to female. These people seem to forget that I came out as bisexual, at the same time I came out as transgender, whatever though. I think a lot of the confusion people have in regards to transgender people and sexuality, is probably fuelled by ‘transgender’ being the ‘T’ in ‘LGBT,’ amongst other things.
The other big one is the assumption that being transgender, is a fetish. This one I understand more than the (none) link between sexuality and being transgender.
Growing up, I had never heard the word ‘transgender’ before, not even once. I had heard the word ‘transvestite’ though, I’d also heard the word ‘Transsexual’ – but like everybody else does, especially at a young age – I assumed they were the same thing. This means I had automatically linked two completely different groups of people together, without actually knowing anything at all about what ‘transsexual’ means. (I’d only heard it in ‘Sweet Transvestite’ from ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show!)
As much as this next part could annoy a lot of people, a dictionary definition of ‘transvestite’ is as follows..
A person, typically a man, who derives pleasure from dressing in clothes primarily associated with the opposite sex.
To me, this is very much a fetish.
I have spoken to a couple of transgender girls that explained to me that some of the people they know, identify as transvestites, even though they’re not at all like the definition above. Due to this, I will say there is most certainly exceptions.
A person who emotionally and psychologically feels that they belong to the opposite sex.
denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.
There is no link at all between a transvestite and a transsexual, the same goes for a transvestite and transgender individual. If I managed to assume there is, even in my position, others will also assume the same, so I understand where the confusion comes from here.
When questioned about being transgender, I make it clear that I am doing what I am doing for comfort. I make it clear that I’m not changing who I am, I’m correcting what wasn’t in my favour at birth and adjusting a few things to match my true, personal identity. It doesn’t take much explaining to change a misconception and give somebody enough understanding, to break any links they may have formed.
There’s a few more of these wrong assumptions & misconceptions that I’d like to get into, I’m going to save that for a part two though, this post has turned out to be quite a long one as it is so I’ll end it with this;
If somebody isn’t being horrible, but is showing interest in understanding what it means to be transgender, it’s better to talk about it and help them understand, hiding from it doesn’t help anybody.