Please note that this page is a work in progress.
This page is written first and foremost for those people out there who feel like they are one gender but their bodies are the other. This can be a very strong, life-long feeling and it can cause a great deal of suffering, both mental and physical. Admitting this to anyone, or even seeking help, is one of the hardest things many sufferers feel, so if you feel you’re a man or woman who is trapped in the wrong body and you’re reading this, congratulations on being brave enough to come here.
Because of the nature of wikis, and the internet in general, there is a lot of information out there for transsexual people. Some of it is good, some of it is questionable, some of it is bad. Not all of it will be relevant to you and you probably won’t agree with all of it. We’ve tried to cover the basics on this page and at the end we’ll link to other pages you might like to read. In keeping with T-Vox’s founding policies, we’ve kept the information here neutral; i.e., we’ve tried not to push any particular point of view. Nevertheless, we don’t expect everyone who reads this to agree with everything we have said, nor do we try to make you agree. Keeping an open mind about everything is the best route to personal happiness.
What Is Transsexuality?
Transsexualism is, quite simply, the long-term and/or strongly held belief that a person belongs to a gender that is not what was assigned to them based on their physical sex; i.e. a person who is biologically female but feels that they are not a girl/woman is a transsexual person.
There are other factors that come into play when diagnosing transsexualism but this is the primary aspect of the definition of transsexualism. It should perhaps be noted at this point that cross-dressing can occur with both males and females, and that the terms detailed below can be equally applied to both FTM and MTF Trans people.
Transsexualism is sometimes linked with Transvestism in the minds of the populace, with most people not understanding the differences. For some transsexual people, in particular male-to-female transsexuals, the link between transsexualism and transvestism is rather strong in the initial phases of coming to terms with their gender identity. This is recognised in medical terms by a secondary definition of transvestism.
The primary definition of transvestism is well known to most people: it’s the dressing in clothing of the opposite sex for sexual purposes. These ‘purposes’ can vary from person to person and are so extensive we won’t go into them here. It is worth noting that in some circles this definition is now referred to as fetishistic tranvestism, more clearly differentiating it from the secondary definition, which is entirely different.
The secondary definition of transvestism is the one we’re concerned with and it’s also one reason why some transsexuals can have trouble working out what they are. The secondary definition of transvestism is: the dressing in clothing associated with the opposite sex, sometimes for the purposes of releasing gender-based tension.
The “releasing of gender based-tension” is the interesting aspect of this definition and is the reason some transsexuals may believe they are transvestites. It is worth noting that sexual arousal may still occur while dressing but it doesn’t happen to everyone and with those it does, it doesn’t have to happen all the time. This secondary definition is often referred to as cross-dressing, to differentiate it further from the primary definition.
How do you know you’re transsexual?
There is no specific, 100%-guaranteed method of telling someone if they are transsexual. In many cases you just know, although questioning and having doubts and fears are extremely common. Doing a lot of talking and listening to other Trans people, and to a therapist who understands Trans issues, can help you figure yourself out.
Some Trans people know that they weren’t a member of their birth gender came at a very early age (most earliest memories of these folks include knowing “something was wrong”), while this realisation develops later in others.
It should be pointed out that not knowing you were Trans from an early age does not make a person ‘less Trans’ in any way, although some people (including in online communities) act as though it does. Please ignore them and never let anyone make you feel less-than because of your experience. Who you are, how you feel, and your life experiences are all completely valid and should be appreciated for what they are.
In short, a person is transsexual if they have, or develop, a long-lasting identification as a member of the opposite sex. This can be mimicked by the effects of some mental disorders (e.g. some cases of multiple personality disorder, some cases of bipolar disorder and other conditions), but having any of these conditions does not mean a person will develop characteristics similar to transsexualism.
Similarly, having any of these conditions does not prevent a person from also being transsexual. You can be transsexual and have multiple personalities, for example. This is one reason why the continuation of psychiatric involvement in the treatment of transsexualism is seen by some as so important, although psychiatric involvement in the treatment of transsexual people is a hotly contested topic.
So what can we conclude from this? Essentially, you are likely to be transsexual if you think your gender and your body (or your assigned gender and your actual identity) are different. If you think that describes you, read on. (If not, read on anyway! You may also be interested in I don’t fit into either gender and/or I’m Two Genders, even if that’s not a perfect description of how you feel.)
What can you do about it?
What you can do about transsexualism will depend on how old you are and where you live. For example, in the UK, you can visit your GP and be referred to a psychiatrist (generally required, particularly if you’re seeking treatment via the NHS) as the first stage in treatment, while in the United States you can go straight to a therapist or counsellor (a psychiatrist is not necessary and generally not recommended) yourself.
If you’re a legal adult in your country and treatment is available there, you should be able to get it. If you’re legally a child, you may be able to get treatment with your parents’ permission, but in many countries you will unfortunately have to wait. See Category:Youth and Online Support for ways to connect with youth in your area and get information about what’s available to you and your family.
Visit our Countries List for countries on which we have information. You should find useful guidance on finding treatment in there.
T-Vox contains a great deal of information on transsexualism and if you want to know more, or you want to understand some of the terms associated with transsexualism, the following pages may be of use to you:
- Therapists – contains a list of people who can assist you in transition, should you wish to do so.
- Forum – join our forum to discuss your problems with other people going through the same thing.
- Chat room – visit our chat room to discuss your problems with other people right now.
- Trans 101 – very important for all to read, even if you think you’re past the basic 101 level. When it tells you to take out paper and pencil, actually do it. It’s tremendously helpful for everyone.
- List of transgender-related topics
- Transgender organisations
- Urban myths surrounding Hormones
- The basics about Hormones
- FTM Kick Start – A collaboration channel for FTM-spectrum folks who are just getting started.
- Female to Male Transsexual Issues with Jamison Green – A 10 minute YouTube documentary on coming out as a Trans man.