Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation By: Tina Bouvier
Gender Identity is the internal sense of yourself as a male, female or other, regardless of your sex.A person’s gender identity does not always match the sex of their physical body.
Gender identity is often established by hormonalinfluences in the womb, but is often affected by social and cultural factors.Society often dictates how we should look and act as a male or female, but it does not always match how we feel internally.
Terms Used to DescribeGender Identities: Gender Expression: How a person looks; the physical appearance of a person’s gender identity, expressed through clothing, mannerisms, and chosen names. Gender Nonconforming: This term refers to people whose gender expressions are not clearly feminine or masculine. People who do not conform to mainstream society’s expectations of gender roles.
Genderqueer: Someone who rejects the two gender system. Someone who blurs, rejects, or break the rules of gender norms. Transgender: An umbrella term referring to people whose gender identity or expression, does not fit their sex assigned at birth. Groups often included under this tem include transsexuals, genderqueers, people who are androgynous, and people who identify with more than one gender. Transsexual: A person who lives and/or identifies as a different sex from the one assigned at birth. The process of this change may include changing of name and /or use of pronouns, undergoing hormone therapy, and possibly sex change surgery. Trans: Transgender or transsexual. Often used to mean both.
Trans Man: A person who was born biologically female, and identifies and portrays his gender as male. Also known as female-to-male (FTM) transsexual. Trans Woman: A person who was born biologically male, and identifies and portrays her gender as female. Also known as male-to-female (MTF) transsexual. Cisgender: refers to people whose gender identity and presentation fit traditional norms for the sex they were assigned at birth. Cissexual: a person who lives and identifies with the sex assigned at birth.
Transsexual Experience The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), diagnoses transsexuals has having a gender identity disorder (GID). This is diagnosed as a mental condition. GID is also referred to as gender dysphoria. In order for a transsexual to obtain the proper surgeries or hormones needed to live successfully in their preferred gender, they need to be diagnosed with GID or gender dysphoria under current medical guidelines.
Many transsexuals will take cross-sex hormones to help achieve the female or male physical expression of gender that they desire. Other transsexuals will go through one or more gender affirmation surgeries. Thesemedical interventions are often very expensive and are not covered by health insurance. They often carry health risks and require ongoing medical care.
Many transsexuals live in their preferred gender without undergoing surgery or hormone treatment. Without these medical procedures, they are unable to legally get their identification documents changed. This increases their risk of being a victim of violence from anti-trans
There are many obstacles and health issuesthat transsexuals face, including: The Side Effects and Risks of Hormone Treatments Insurance Exclusions Health Screenings for Reproductive Organs Fertility Issues Medical Intervention for Transsexual Teens Trans Educations for Health-Care Providers
Side Effects and Risks ofHormone Treatments Estrogen Testosterone Elevated risk of Elevated risk of stroke, blood clots, and breast cancer. liver damage. Side effects may Side effect of include reduction of libido, reduction testosterone in erectile function, may increase and decrease in ejaculation. libido.
Insurance Inclusions U.S . Health insurance doe not cover hormone treatment or gender affirmation surgeries for trans people. This leaves many trans people looking for cross-sex hormones on the street or on line. This is a dangerous route to take due to lack of quality control of the drugs, and the lack of screening and follow up care by a medical professional. Needle sharing is often the case when street hormones are used causing a risk for HIV and Hepatitis B. Oral testosterone preparations are also available on the street. These preparations are frequently used by body builders and can lead to fatal liver disease.
Health Screenings for Reproductive Organs Trans people that do not have surgery to remove their reproductive organs still need to have these organs screened on a regular basis. Transmen may need to have pap tests and breast tissue exams. Trans female have very few reports of prostate cancer probably due to the fact that estrogen is one of the treatments for it.
Fertility Issues Cross-sex hormones will reduce fertility and it can become permanent. Trans woman will sometimes choose to bank sperm before hormone treatments or surgery are done. Trans men may continue to ovulate even after testosterone therapy has stopped. Pregnancy is still a risk, although a reduced chance.
Medical Interventions forTranssexual Teens Transsexual teens are often at a higher risk of depression, drug and alcohol use, self- mutilation, and suicide. This is due to the lack of access to appropriate medical treatment programs, specifically for trans teens. There is a temporary hormonal treatment to halt puberty, for teens that have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria. This gives a teens a couple of years to decide if they want to proceed with hormone treatment and surgery.
Trans Education for Health-Care Providers Many medical practitioners have not yet learned how to treat trans people with appropriate understanding and respectful care. They need to have protocols that are followed, to ensure a sensitive and courteous approach is used when caring for their transsexual patients.
Sexual Orientation Sexual orientation describes who we are attracted to emotionally, romantically, and sexually.
Terms Used to Describe a Person’s Sexual Orientation: Asexual- a person who does not experience sexual attraction ever, or a for a period of time. Bisexual- a person who is romantically/sexually attracted to both men and women. Gay/Homosexual- men who are romantically/sexually attracted to men. Sometimes used to describe women attracted to women. Lesbian- women who are romantically/sexually attracted to women.
Pansexual- a person who is attracted to people across the range of genders. Often used by those who identify as transgender or genderqueer. Queer- used to describe an open, fluid sexual orientation and/or gender identity/expression. Straight/Heterosexual-women who are romantically/sexually attracted to men, and men who are attracted to women.
The terms Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation often lead to confusing misunderstood stereotypes. If someone considers themself a lesbian, it does not mean that they have a masculine expression. If a person is transgender, they can identify as straight, lesbian, bisexual, gay, pansexual or queer. People who transition gender sometimes find that their sexual orientation changes during the process.
Bisexuality Bisexualitymay reflect a sense that sexual orientation is a fluid aspect. Bisexuals are often misunderstood and stereotyped. They can be labeled as confused, opportunists, not ready to come out, and inherently promiscuous.
Lesbian and Bisexual Women haveSpecial Health Issues Cancer screenings- Lesbians tend have three times longer intervals between their pap tests compared to heterosexual women. Stress- The stresses that are associated with being a lesbian maybe a contributing factor that lesbians have higher rates of heart disease than heterosexual women. Smoking-30% of lesbians smoke compared to 23% of heterosexual women. Alcohol Use- There is an increased rate of problem drinking among lesbians that does not dramatically decrease with age as it does in the general population. Sexually Transmitted Infections- Women who have sex with other women can get sexually transmitted diseases.
Coming Out to Ourselves, Family, Friends, and the World Coming out is the process of accepting and affirming our sexual orientation or gender identity and deciding how open we will be about it. Coming out to ourselves can be an extremely challenging process, but once out a huge relief. Coming out to friends and family is also quite challenging and life-changing. Some family members and friends may be very accepting of your sexual orientation, while others may not.
Multiple Identities Other factors that contribute to the experience and possible discrimination of being a lesbian include: class, gender, race, religion, and disability. An example of this would be a black lesbian who not only has to face the challenges of being accepted as a lesbian, may also be subjected to racial discrimination in the society in which she lives.
Countering Homophobia,Heterosexism, andTransphobia Heterosexism is the assumption that heterosexuality is the only normal orientations. Homophobia is fear and hatred of people who are attracted to the same sex. Transphobia is fear and hatred of gender-variant people. All of these contribute to laws and practices that deny LGBTQ people legal, religious, and social privileges that heterosexuals and cisgender take for granted.
Homosexuals and Transgendersoften face discrimination on many levels Job and Housing discrimination Unable to marry in They may also face: most states Misrepresentation and Violence being ignored by the media Homelessness Essential safer-sex Police brutality educational materials Chronic underemployment omitted for same-sex Poverty. relationships at schools.
Many activists are working hard to make positive change against homophobia and trans phobias. The Think Before You Speak campaign raises awareness in schools about the prevalence and consequences of anti LGBT bias. The Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force works to advance equality and train young leaders for the future. The National Black Justice Coalition works to eradicate racism and homophobia, and advocates for the LGBT African Americans.
This chapter on Gender Identity and SexualOrientation gave me the knowledge that I need tounderstand these different lifestyles better. Itallowed me to understand what transgender andhomosexual people have to go through to feel atpeace within their own bodies. It can not be aneasy life to live with all of the challenges,discrimination and lack of support that they receivefrom our society. The first hand accounts, givenfrom individuals facing these issues, were veryinteresting and insightful. It gave personalperspectives allowing the reader to feel directlyconnected to these individuals and their struggles.
One quote that stood out to me in thischapter was “Whenever I encounter trans-positive sexual health resources I breathe a deep sigh of relief.” This quote made me feel great empathy towards transgender individuals when it comes to accessinghealthcare. It can be stressful enough for a cisgender individual to seek treatment for healthcare. I can not imagine the addedamount of stress that a trans has to face in order to find a facility that is open,accepting and knowledgeable of his or her lifestyle.
DiscussionWhy do you think people are homophobicand transphobic in our society and howcan we as individuals and as a nation stopthe discrimination against LGBTQ?