Table of Contents
In the twenty-first century, there has been a significant increase in the number of researchers interested in transgenderism. The significant increase of interest in conducting studies on transgenderism is because of the greater percentage of people who have expressed their transgender identity openly. Civil rights organizations have also paid attention to the rights of transgender people. Transgenderism is one of the social issues that have proven to be highly controversial in the twenty-first century (Bevan 38). Despite the controversy surrounding the issue, transgender people have greater freedom to express their identity in the twenty-first century. The media have also given attention to transgenderism with the core objective of creating awareness of different issues surrounding the subject. A critical analysis of how transgenderism emerged reveals that gender identity issues have led to an increasing number of transgender people. In the view of the majority, it is normal for a person’s gender identity to conform to the anatomical sexual characteristics. However, transgender people have a gender identity that is different from their anatomical sexual characteristics. This paper will give attention to transgenderism and the issues surrounding the subject.
Researchers have revealed that some transgendered people often experience a crisis related to gender identity in the early years of their lives. According to sociological studies, the process of gender socialization enables an individual to develop a gender identity that conforms to the existing sexual roles (Wintle 52). Unfortunately, transgendered people often feel that their preferred gender identity does not conform to their physical sexual characteristics. It is easy for them to suppress their feelings during childhood. However, adolescence presents a highly confusing stage for them because the sexual changes that occur do not conform to their preferred gender identity. In the modern day, it is possible to seek medical intervention during adolescence with the core objective of delaying sexual physical developments for transgendered people (Marricco 56). The delay allows them the time to become adults and resolve their gender identity issues. After adulthood, some individuals choose to transition to their preferred gender identity through numerous processes. Unfortunately, a large percentage of transgendered people opt to suppress their feelings and focus on handling the internal conflict on their own. For this reason, they seek to conform to the expected sexual roles and gender identity and lead normal lifestyles. However, it is apparent that they face a deeper personal crisis during middle adulthood.
Recent studies have explored how being transgendered has the potential to influence a person’s life. Notably, many transgendered people choose to suppress their innermost feelings and are likely to develop depression and anxiety. The internal conflict on gender identity makes it difficult for them to lead normal lives because they would like to express socialization patterns that are the opposite of their anatomical sexual characteristics (Cohen-Kettenis and Pfäfflin 93). The society often discriminates transgendered people and exposes them to stigma, which may increase the severity of depression. There has been a deeper interest to understand the factors that contribute to transgenderism. Particularly, many studies have explored the factors that motivate individuals to develop a gender identity that does not conform to their physical sexual characteristics. However, there is evidence that transgendered people experience a major conflict and depression that may affect every aspect of their lives.
Transgender people opt to undergo a transition that allows them to conform to their preferred gender identity. The process of transitioning begins with psychotherapy with the core objective of helping the individual to address the issue of gender dysphoria (Yarhouse 47). Notably, gender dysphoria denotes the existing incongruity between the body and the mind of a transgendered person. If the gender dysphoria is severe, the person suffers psychologically and needs proper counseling to embrace the preferred gender identity. Psychotherapy also presents the individual with an opportunity to experience three months of living in the preferred gender role. The individual can opt for hormonal therapy whose main objective is to foster the modification of visible sexual traits (Teich 83). Hormonal therapy helps both men and women to develop secondary sex traits of their preferred gender. After hormonal therapy, transgendered people embrace a new identity and seek to express it in real life. Their ability to transition from one role to the other and interact comfortably with family and friends is a critical determinant of the transitioning process. For many transgendered people, the experience can be extremely traumatizing because people are less likely to embrace a person’s new gender identity. Some individuals also opt for sex reassignment surgery that allows them to have their preferred sexual organs that conform to the selected gender identity.
Recent studies have revealed that both environmental and biological factors are potential contributors to the development of transgenderism. However, there has been limited evidence showing how a person’s environment in the early years may contribute to transgenderism. For this reason, the stronger evidence points to biological factors that trigger the development of transgenderism in the early years of life. Pre-natal evidence reveals that transwomen register a reduced exposure to androgens during fetal development (Yarhouse 44). Researchers have determined this aspect by measuring the ratio of the length exhibited by the second and fourth fingers. Previous studies have demonstrated that there is a direct correlation between the ratio of those fingers and the exposure to prenatal hormones. Brain physiology has also helped in highlighting that a part of the brain contributes to the strong conviction that a person belongs to a specific gender identity. In transwomen, brain physiology depicts that they are more likely to have a stronger conviction of being females and not males. Hormone therapy can alter brain volumes during the transitioning process.
Over the years, transgendered people have emphasized the need to enjoy their freedom to choose their preferred gender identity. In their view, gender identity is a result of self-perception of how an individual perceived the self socially. The controversy surrounding transgenderism is that the selected gender identity does not conform to the person’s anatomical sex characteristics and the genetic factors determining the person’s sex. Transgender people also develop a sexual identity different from their anatomical characteristics. Most of them have the conviction that they have the right to transition to their preferred gender and sexual identities. The transitioning process helps the individual to undergo changes that help in attaining the preferred sexual and gender identity (Bevan 42). However, the society has been reluctant to fully embrace transgender people and address them in agreement with their selected gender identity. Recent campaigns by various interest groups have sought to familiarize people with the needs and issues that transgender people face. There has been an emphasis on the need to embrace transgender people and allow them to exercise their freedom of choice when it comes to gender and sexual identities (Teich 87). Unlike in the past, transgender people have more access to services that can help them to deal with their internal conflicts and focus on the transitioning process. The availability of such services has helped to understand some of the major causes of gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder.
There has been significant progress in understanding transgenderism and the conflicts that transgendered people experience. Many of the studies have explored potential factors that contribute to the gender dysphoria that transgendered people experience. However, there are cultural and religious values that do not support transgenderism. For this reason, there is a significant level of stigma that transgendered people experience. The personal crisis that transgender people experience may cause depression and negatively affect a person’s life. The access to counseling services and medical interventions in the transitioning process has been able to help many individuals to deal with the dysphoria successfully (Marricco 71). There are numerous cases of successful transitioning that transgendered people have undergone. The emphasis on the rights of transgender people has created a measure of awareness, and each has a right to choose the preferred gender and sexual identity. Despite this awareness, it may take much longer before the society can embrace transgendered people and understand the reasons for their transition. Several biological factors may be potential contributors to the increasing cases of gender dysphoria and transgenderism (Cohen-Kettenis and Pfäfflin 106). There is a need for deeper research that will establish the role of biological and environmental factors in the development of transgenderism. Current research focuses on understanding the physiological and psychological processes that affect transgender people. Further research will help in demystifying the development of transgenderism.
- Bevan, Thomas E. The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism: A New View Based on Scientific Evidence. Santa Barbara, Calif. : Praeger, 2015. Internet resource.
- Cohen-Kettenis, Peggy T, and Friedemann Pfäfflin. Transgenderism and Intersexuality in Childhood and Adolescence: Making Choices. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE Publications, 2003. Print.
- Marricco, Gianni. The Science of Transgenderism. Cork: BookBaby, 2012. Print.
- Teich, Nicholas M. Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue. New York: Columbia University Press, 2012. Internet resource.
- Wintle, Michael J. Image into Identity: Constructing and Assigning Identity in a Culture of Modernity. Amsterdam [u.a.: Rodopi, 2006. Print.
- Yarhouse, Mark A. Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture. Downers Grove, Illinois : IVP Academic, an imprint of InterVarsity Press, 2015. Print.