Today I've decided to talk about Transsexuals. According to Dictionary.com, a transsexual is "a person who has undergone hormone treatment and surgery to attain the physical characteristics of the opposite sex."
Transsexuality is not a choice. In fact, the dysphoria and intense feelings of being the opposite gender that they were assigned at birth often cause extreme levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. It is because of these feelings that transsexuals go down the path of getting hormone treatment and SRS (sex reassignment surgery).
If being a transsexual is not a choice, then what causes it? No one is completely sure what causes transsexuality, but there are many theories including one which states that the amounts and types of hormones the unborn foetus is exposed to which results in opposite sex brain growth and (sometimes) physical features.
We can find instances of transsexuals all throughout history. In fact, most ancient civilizations held trans* people in high regard, thinking of them as being close to the gods. The first modern transsexual to undergo surgery was Lili Elbe, a male to female transsexual. Lili was born "Einar Mogens Wegener" in 1882, in Denmark. She underwent genital reassignment surgery in 1930 in Germany, but tragically died just before she turned 50 due to complications.
Today, transsexuals comprise about 1 in 30,000 for male to females and 1 in 100,000 for female to males. (source) These are the people who have "come out" as transsexuals; it is certain that for every person who has come out there is at least one person who hasn't.
This leads us to the question "Why don't more people come out as trans*?". There are lots of reasons why people stay quiet about who they are and try to hide it from those around them, but the biggest reason is tolerance and acceptance. All too often, youth overhear their parents, church leaders, and friends berating LGBTQ people and they are afraid to come out to these people because they think they will be judged, labelled a "sinner", forced to undergo very dangerous and harmful "reparative therapy", or disinherited and kicked out of their home. Needless to say, this is also a huge cause of depression and has often led to the trans* person taking their own life because they are not accepted by those who are supposed to love and accept them no matter what.
In closing, I want to reiterate that being transsexual is not a choice, and if you know a transsexual person, then please try to be supportive of them.