Imagine yourself as a child running into school after recess, desperate for the bathroom before the bell rings. You walk quickly down the hallway and walk into the bathroom labeled “boys” with out even thinking twice about it. You do what you went in to do, wash your hands, look up, and see yourself in the mirror and flinch at the sight of a female looking back at you. “That’s not me,” you think to yourself, shake your head and look down again, hoping the next time you look in the mirror the boy you know yourself to be will appear instead of that odd girl. You then quickly run out of the bathroom before anyone sees you and gets upset or laughs or tells on you. Can you even begin to imagine such a situation? For many people it is impossible to understand how it feels to be trapped in a body that has been genetically assigned the wrong sex. However, there are a lot of individuals in our society that deal with this type of frustration and confusion every day of their lives.
People who feel entirely disconnected from their sex are practically forced by society and by our culture to suppress such emotions and to conform to the typical gender-traits that are expected of them based on their genitalia. If you have a vagina you are to be a feminine woman. If you have a penis you are to be a masculine male. Clean and easy, just the way our society likes it. But—what if you have a penis, yet you have no connection to the traits that are supposed to go along with such an organ? Sadly our society, in general, chooses to answer this question with very little support: ‘Why, you are to see a therapist and get past these strange issues and step into your assigned gender role, duh.’ What most of our culture does not understand is that therapy and medicine will not result in a person letting go of their gender-identity and individuality. It is hard enough for people in these situations to accept their differences and to be proud of their identities with out the stress that our culture puts on them to hide their true selves and to continue living what they feel to be a lie.
Of course there are solutions of sorts to these internal struggles, but they are still judged as inhuman and unnecessary by most close-minded individuals. A woman, born as a man, can grow her hair long, tweeze her eyebrows, wear makeup and put on a dress in an attempt to feel like a woman on the outside, even if she is not accepted as one. A man, born as a woman, can take hormones that will help deepen his voice and grow facial and body hair that will give him typical male characteristics. Both of these people could even put all their savings into sex-reassignment surgery in which they will finally be considered the sex that they’ve always felt they were. Decisions such as these do not come easy, however, because these individuals have to worry about their families, their friends, their jobs, their statuses in society, how they will be treated. One would think that finally looking in the mirror to see that the stranger whose looked back at you your whole life has finally left would be reward enough, but it’s not always that simple. Is it worth starting your whole life over? Possibly losing everyone who’s ever loved you and losing the job you’ve worked your whole life to gain? If only people could realize that transgender people are just as human as you or I, only they were wrongly assigned their sex, maybe such a decision would come with less social concerns. A society such as ours where people are raised to follow a strict set of norms leaves those who do not identify with their assigned sex unaccepted or trapped in a life that they do not believe in.