What Does It Mean to Be Transgender?
Last week I went to my two-year checkup for hormone replacement therapy, a medication I take because I am transgender, to align my body with my gender identity. I visit my doctor every six months to make sure my testosterone levels are in the healthy range for a man and that my mental and physical health are okay, too. The past two years have gone by so fast that it's hard for me to believe I've been on hormone medication for so long. It feels like just yesterday that I decided to seek help for my gender dysphoria, or the distress I felt because my biological sex and gender identity didn't align. Since my appointment, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be transgender and how complex gender really is.
Gender Identity vs Gender Expression vs Biological Sex
Before discussing how I see my own gender, I think it's important to define gender identity, gender expression, and biological sex. While these terms may sound similar, they all factor into our experience with gender in different ways.
- Gender identity: how you see and perceive yourself in terms of gender
- Gender expression: your expression of masculinity or femininity through behavior, clothing, haircut, or voice
- Biological sex: the sex you were assigned at birth based on physical traits and your chromosomes
All of these factors that contribute to your gender can exist on a spectrum. A person's biological sex, for example, could be intersex rather than strictly male or female. Or someone's gender expression could be more masculine even though their gender identity is female. Everyone is different with how they see and perceive their own gender, but these terms can give them a framework for how they understand it.
What Being a Transgender Man Means to Me
To me, being transgender means that while I was born female, I've seen myself as male from an early age. When I was younger, this caused me a lot more distress than it does now, especially when I started going through puberty and my body aligned even less with my gender identity. Luckily, I was able to start treatment for gender dysphoria in college and have been taking weekly testosterone injections ever since.
My medication has helped my body develop male characteristics like a deeper voice, a more masculine body shape, and other traits that have helped ease my dysphoria. In terms of gender expression, I've always seen myself as somewhere in the middle–a mixture of masculine and feminine.
While every transgender (often just called "trans") person is different, my dysphoria is mostly on a physical level so hormones were very effective. These days, I'm a lot happier with who I am and comfortable in my own skin–even though my body's not perfect, I feel grateful that I'm healthy and that treatment has helped relieve my dysphoria. Check out the video below to learn more about how I realized I was transgender and my first steps to seeking treatment.
Winder, A. (2019, March 10). What Does It Mean to Be Transgender?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, April 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/thelifelgbt/2019/3/what-does-it-mean-to-be-transgender