(or The Common Myths About Transgender and Genderqueer)
Last week (and a bit) I did a series on what LGBTQ is. Over the next week (ish) I'm going to expound on this topic by going over Transgender and Genderqueer in a bit more detail. The reason for this is because the Trans* and Queer "categories" are more complicated than the LGB parts.
In this article, I will be telling you what Trans* and Genderqueer are not, because there are lots of misconceptions about the two and understanding what they aren't will help you to understand what they are.
Myth #1: Being Trans* or Genderqueer is a choice.
Truth: People who are Transgender or Genderqueer do not choose to be so. Why would anyone choose to be something that so many people hate/are afraid of/don't understand? Simply put, they don't. Just like people who are female with a female body or male with a male body (for easy reference, these will be called cis-females and cis-males, respectively) know that they are female/male, transgendered people know that they are transgendered/genderqueer. In fact, it has been found that the testosterone levels in the brain of a fetus during development plays a crucial part in determining whether a person may be trans*. (Hare L, Bernard P, Sánchez FJ, Baird PN, Vilain E, Kennedy T, Harley VR (2009)) Trans*/Genderqueer people are literally born that way.
Myth #2: If you're Transgender/Genderqueer, then you have to have surgery.
Truth: While some Trans*/Queer people do have top or bottom surgery, a lot don't. It is common to take hormones to help the person pass as male or female or help make them look more androgynous, but again, not all Trans*/Queer people go this route.
Myth #3: Transgender/Genderqueer people are gay/homosexual.
Truth: Being Trans*/Queer has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Transgender/Genderqueer is all about gender identity (the gender one identifies with) as opposed to sexual orientation (the gender one is attracted to). Tran*/Queer people can be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, and so on.
Please feel free to leave a comment if there are any myths/misconceptions that I have missed that you would like to point out or if you have any questions. This list isn't complete, but is all I was able to come up with "off the top of my head" this evening.
Thanks for reading!