Following October’s National Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender month of awareness and events, November is the month for transgender awareness.
Transgender refers to people whose gender identity and expression do not correlate to the sex they were assigned at birth. The assumption is that if you were born as a boy or girl, your gender falls somewhere within the acceptable boy/girl categories and you will be attracted to persons of the opposite sex/gender. This is not always the case.
The nation as a whole has become more accepting of people with same-sex attractions and their legal rights to marry. However, there is still the T in LGBT that lacks a wide range of awareness, support and education.
For one, it is not easy to identify someone who is transgender without that person saying so. It is based on how that person identifies with his or her gender or sex internally, not physical characteristics.
A person can feel as if he is female within, even though he was physically a male at birth, and that person’s sexual orientation is identified as lesbian. Someone may internally express his or her gender as not male or female, just somewhere in between or neither. The point is, one’s own gender, sex and sexual orientation falls on an independent spectrum, resulting in the diverse human experience as we know it today.
I came out as transgender August 2012 and started the slow process of transitioning from female to male. I asked to be referred to by male pronouns and a male name within everyday social situations. Some people jumped on board, and others – not so much at first.
For some trans people, it is necessary to go through a medical process to change his or her gender and/or sex. Unfortunately, accessible transgender health services is limited in Tallahassee and even more so for those with low incomes.
Many of us suffer through bouts of depression, anxiety and distress. We are ridiculed, harassed, bullied and physically and/or emotionally abused daily when we express our gender identity in ways we feel are right for us.
Suicide attempts for transgender individuals are the highest among any other social minority group. I was taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital March 14 at 2:30 a.m. to get 10 stitches on my left arm. At the time, I was completely overwhelmed with the need to take hormones and no longer wished to live a life where I was referred to as a female.
Today, I may be a survivor, but hundreds of us are not. Nov. 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance, and it is a day to commemorate those who have been victims of violent crimes during the year. This year the death toll is 238, according to tgeu.org.
I could have been one of them. There will be a memorial service hosted by Transgender Tallahassee and The Family Tree from 6-9 p.m., and it is open for everyone.
By sharing a piece of myself, I hope to inspire an inclusive and accepting atmosphere for transgender individuals at FAMU.