Trans women, also called transgender women, are women whose bodies were physically determined to be male at birth. Some are transsexuals – those who have made their bodies more female through modern medicine. This post is about trans women in America.
- assigned sex – determined physically at birth.
- gender identity – what you consider yourself to be: male or female (or possibly something else).
- gender dysphoria – the feeling that you are in the wrong body.
- transgender, trans – those whose sex and gender do not match. It is the T in LGBT.
- cisgender, cis – those whose sex and gender match.
- transphobia – the fear and hatred in others that trans people regularly face.
- transition – the process of making yourself more like your gender identity – not just changes to your body but also changes in dress, manner, speech, name, papers, etc. Trans women can be anywhere in this process. Not all of them go all the way.
- transvestite – a man who dresses as a woman but still thinks of himself as a man.
Some say that trans women who have completed the transition should no longer be called trans.
The two main medical procedures are:
- HRT: hormone replacement therapy – causes you to grow breasts, your body to become more soft and curved, your waist-to-hip ratio to drop, making you look more like a woman. It does not get rid of your penis.
- SRS: sex reassignment surgery – also called a sex change operation. The doctors give you a vagina in place of your penis. You will be able to have sex but not give birth.
Some do’s and don’t’s for cisgender people:
- Treat trans women the same as any other woman.
- Use the right pronoun: she, not he or it.
- Use the name they call themselves.
- Do not out them as trans without their permission.
- Do not assume they are lesbian – only about a third are. Most are straight or bisexual.
- Do not ask what their name was “before”.
- Do not ask about their genitals or operations.
- Do not call them “trannies” or “shemales”: those are transphobic slurs that come from the sex industry.
- 12.5% – the chance that a trans woman of colour will be murdered.
- 30% of trans women have been in prison.
- 40% of all homeless youths are trans or gay. Of these most are black!
- 41% of trans people have attempted suicide.
- 50% have been raped or beaten by a romantic partner.
- 59% to 67% of young trans women in urban areas have been sex workers, 20% of them are HIV positive.
Transphobia among students, teachers, employers, police officers, prison guards, etc makes their lives harder, at times even dangerous. In homeless shelters and prisons they are put with men. Most states have no laws against transphobia in housing and hiring.
For trans women of colour, the transphobia is made even worse by racism. For example, they are two to three times more likely to be sexually assaulted in prison than white trans women.
– Abagond, 2013, 2016.