The misconceptions and minimum awareness about transgender and intersex people is the reason they risk social stigma, discrimination, harassment and is disowned by family when the truth is revealed. So, what is it we know about them apart from knowing that they are dressed as woman and ask for money and can be appointed to dance at weddings and childbirth? Probably nothing! It’s time we change that!
Transgender people have to struggle through gender identity issues where as Inter-sex people have to deal with the physical aspects. Intersex individuals have reproductive anatomy or genes that don’t fit typical definitions of male or female, it is often discovered at birth. For example intersex person may have XY(male) chromosome but would possess female genitala physically or even partial male and partial female genitals.
Although in Pakistan unfortunately an inter-sex child would immediately be disowned but in foreign countries these children have to go through cosmetic and other necessary surgery. Most of the times there is no option of consent of the concerning person even when the genital is fully functioning and safe.
A transgender is a person who doesn’t identity with the gender assigned to them at birth. In simple words a transgender could be mentally a man trapped inside a woman’s body physically or a mentally a woman trapped inside a man’s body physically. No, it is not same as homosexuality because it comes under gender orientation (what gender attracts you) and transgender comes under gender identity (internal knowledge of own gender). Transgenders can either identify themselves as a trans-male or trans-female. Trans male is an individual identified as female at birth but grows up to be a man and trans female is an individual identified as male at birth but grows up to be a female.
A transgender CAN NOT be identified at birth neither it is a choice the person makes, a person is born transgender because the brain is structured that way during fetus development, meaning being transgender has to do more with biology. Children can recognize themselves as transgenders as soon as vocal ability is enhanced through denying the gender assigned to the kid. Most recognize it fully in teenage years but the signs can be picked up by parents at earlier age.
It used to be a debate that gender identity since it exists in mind can be tried and changed through therapy. Earlier when being a transgender was considered a state of mental illness, conversion therapy was used to convince a person to stay the gender they were assigned to. It proved to be extremely harmful causing, self-hatred, substance abuse, depression, and even suicide.
Although an individual can be transgender and intersex at same time but not mostly a transgender is not intersex and vice versa. Both these people often face gender dysphoria, a mental illness caused by anxiety of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex due to lack of acceptance and support. It can be treated effectively but they also face trouble accessing health care because of poor knowledge among healthcare providers, discrimination and socioeconomic barriers.
WHO (World Health Organization) took a while to exclude being transgender as a mental disorder but it at last happened in 2018! In Pakistan, the Pakistan Psychologists Association (PPA) has not introduced any DSM for disorders but the conditions are widely unaccepted. These people deserve as much dignity and respect as men and women are supposed to.
In conclusion, what should be understandable and accepting is that being a transgender or intersex person is not the person’s fault or choice.