Challenges of Acceptance for MTFs and FTMs Candie Kohler Soc 235 Gender Roles: Diversity-9066-SU10 Erica Dixon 08/17/2010
My Interest and Reason
As a nurse, I have had the privilege to meet and experience watching the process of transitioning from one gender to another.
Their stories raised a curiosity and need to learn how to help them along in their journey.
Feel it is still a hidden part of our community and area of study.
The study closest to my hypothesis was “Exploring gender identity and community among three groups of transgender individuals in the United States: MTFs, FTMs and genderqueers (Factor, Rothblum 2008).
For their study 242 transgendered individuals responded, the focus group was over the age of 18 also. The number breakdown was 50 MTFs, 52 FTMs and 64 genderqueers
Gender identity showed common terms MTF and FTM shows a wide diversity of other names, for example, gender blender, butch, stone and androgynist.
About one-quarter of MTFs had genital surgery whereas none of the FTMs in the study underwent this procedure.
Sexual attraction found that percentages of all three groups have an attraction towards women over men predominantly. Relationships within the LGB community show that the third group genderqueer find the most connection due to them not identifying as readily to being heterosexual.
Factor and Rothblum found a lot of limitations in their research due to not being able to reach as many of their target group they wanted. Some questioned the qualifications of the researchers while others expressed concern and fear on how the information would be used.
What challenges do transgender people face in order to be accepted by society? The hypothesis through research and responses can be rephrased as, what challenges mentally, physically and within their society do transgendered people face to attain acceptance within their bodies and society?
Survey containing 5 questions relating to different areas of possible discrimination
General (work, family and public life)
Events of discrimination they wanted to share.
Sent off to Transgendered friends and community support groups online and by email
“I’m a 46 year-old Trans woman (MtF Transsexual) in transition to female since Oct. 2008. I’ve been on HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) since Jan. 2009 and had an Orchiectomy in Mar. 2010. I’m a Software Developer and been so since 1984.”
Colleen Colleen is MTF, she lives as a women 80 % of her time due to her job, where she must be dressed and perceived male. She will be starting HRT in the next month but outside of work is only known as Colleen.
Jill New to her transitioning. At the time of this survey she was at day 50 of living fully as a woman. She has yet to go to work as a woman but work is aware of what changes she is making or continued making over the summer.
Discrimination Within General Society
For the most part the one thing they all had in common was that family had to most difficult time of it, that public normally did a lot of staring and some would actually ask questions. They overall gather their support from their “nonblood” families.
For Julie work was accepting and even hired a transgender specialist to make the environment comfortable for everyone involved.
For Colleen due to Military rules, work is not accepting.
Jill is changing areas at work more due to respect of other cultures but her job within the school district is accepting of her choices.
Within the LGBTQ Community
Strong ties lie within the Transgender part of the community but there isn’t a lot of opposition from the other groups.
Colleen states that there is the same cliques and drama you can find most places.
Jill has had a lot of support from Lesbian friends.
Julie says that everyone has been wonderful.
Media Portrayal of Transgender
In general the participants didn’t have to much to complain about they did have some concerns in regards to perception received, stereotypes, mental stability.
Jill and Julie both mentioned a movie called Angry Trannies with Knives, that they feel do not show their culture in a good light.
Colleen stated that most mention of culture has to do with negative or the violence inflicted instead of the good.
Medical Care Challenges
For Julie it was a struggle she went two years looking for a doctor who would take the time to investigate and ensure proper care. Insurance doesn’t cover a lot of the costs. She felt pushed aside.
Jill has found a provider to help her journey but her medical insurance doesn’t cover treatment, she is trying to get her union to help her get things changed.
Colleen has had no problem with her medical, they have had to refer her to specialist outside of military providers though.
I also had a principal who was very nervous about what my appearance would be like - unfortunately, my transition coach did not bring my pictures with her when she told that principal. There is a perception that we are going to look like a drag queen, and not like an ordinary woman. Another way the media have hurt us.
After the show, in the wee hours of the morning, I left the bar and walked toward my car, where I was attacked by two men. I received very cutting, derogatory remarks from them including being called a sick freak. They beat me up. I completely froze. A former Soldier and combat veteran, a former rodeo contestant....none of these things mattered when faced with this cruel assault on my true self. I just froze...in fact, I pissed myself. Someone came and chased them off. I was humiliated. Emotionally cut to the bone, so much more than physically hurt.
“I was lucky enough to have been working for my current employer when I came-out at work in that the only way they could’ve done a better job handling this was to have thrown $50,000 at me. They even hired a transsexual expert to meet with our management/employees to prepare them for me. So that was very positive indeed. It wasn’t long ago when we were out right fired, or we chose to leave work because of the hostile environment.
My hypothesis was asking what challenges MTFs and FTMs face to become accepted in society. I ended up refuting my hypothesis due to a lack of responses from my survey and the papers I used showed that there are more in common in the transgendered community then separates them.
Things I would do differently is to go out and find more meetings or groups to personally talk to people and let them know my sincerity behind my questions and desire to want to know and to add an outlet for their journeys, pain and voices. I feel that getting more FTM perspective could have swayed my results more and given a rounder view of how society accepts people.
If studies like this will help families, schools and workplaces to understand the challenges each group faces maybe they can help with the journey and be able to set up support groups, or not have issues with who uses the bathroom at work. I mean why should a woman who is living everyday as a woman is penalized because she has a penis. Why should she be forced into using the men’s room because of having one body part different
Kimmel, Michael. 2011. The Gendered Society, Fourth Edition. New York, New York. Oxford.
Factor, Rhonda J. and Esther Rothblum. “Exploring Gender Identity and Community Among Three
Groups of Transgender Individuals in the United States: MTFs, FTMs and genderqueers.” Health Sociology Review 17.3 (2008): 235-253. Academic Search Comple. EBSCO. Web. 26 July 2010.