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Trans FAQ

What is transgender?

Transgender is an umbrella term that can cover a diverse community of people and is inclusive of transsexual people, crossdressers, transvestites, drag queens, drag kings and anybody else who feels that their gender role or expression is significantly different to that expected from their birth sex. Due to the general nature of the term, and because it often works as a matter of self-definition, the term can problematic. For instance, if you were to suggest to some drag queens that they might be classed in the same bracket as a transsexual they probably wouldn’t be incredibly impressed. However, due to the inclusive nature of the term it can be useful for all of those who feel that their gender role or identity is at odds with what is expected from them by social norms.

Isn’t gender the same thing as sex?

Typically, a transgender individual experiences some degree of conflict between their gender and genital / genetic sex.

What is the difference between all of the types of transgendered people then?

Well, we might as well indulge in a brief list.  It must also be noted at this point too, that the following list is not exactly hierarchical.  So, a transsexual person isn’t just a crossdresser times ten.  This is simply a convenient way of listing sub-groups.  However, there is a hierarchy in that while gender variant people aren’t necessarily transgender, transgender people are gender variant and while transgender people aren’t necessarily transsexual, transsexual people are transgender.  Also, you have to remember there are no hard and fast rules, people are always individuals first, and sub-categories won’t always adequately describe somebody.  So, if you do meet a drag queen who is also a transsexual woman then don’t be surprised.

Happy? Okay then...

Got all that then? Good...

Still, you must remember that all definitions are, ultimately, arbitrary and they do allow blurring between boundaries depending on who you’re talking to.  Also, different people, over the course of their lives, may shift from one general class to another.  Still, if you’re really not sure about how a particular person identifies and how they wish to be addressed and you really must know then it’s always best to *ask*.

What is the process of treatment that transsexual people go through then?

There are various different steps and issues in the overall process of treatment that transsexual people undertake when they bring their physical sex in line with their psychological gender.  As it worked so well last time, we can have another list outlining the terms and elements associated with the general procedure.

Where do transpeople stand legally?

Very recently an important piece of legislation, known as the Gender Recognition Act, was passed that allowed transsexual people to apply for a new birth certificate that reflects the gender said transsexual person lives their life as.  With this certificate a transperson is legally recognised as their own gender and can essentially pretty much get on with their lives without worrying that somebody may come along and question whether they really are a man or a woman.  In order to receive this certificate a transsexual person has to live as their desired gender for two years, following which they can apply to a Gender Recognition Panel for their certificate.

Prior to receiving this certificate transpeople, and hence other transgender people, can currently still be discriminated against in the provisions of goods and services.

What kind of welfare is available to transgender students?

Transgender people should generally be able to get support, guidance and counselling.  Commencing transition does alleviate anxiety and depression for a transsexual persons, but the process is still long and arduous and can involve high levels of stress.  Transgendered people who do not require transition will also face similar anxiety and difficulties to lesbian, gay or bisexual people in the accepting themselves / coming out process.  There is always support from the AberPride society and the Guild of Students Welfare section.

Where can I continue reading about this?

You could do worse than going to these internet sites...

© Eleanor A. Gidman 22/11/05

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