Transsexuality is a condition where an individual experiences a great deal of personal discomfort about being recognised as their birth gender. To put it another way, a transsexual person is one whose mind tells them that they belong in the opposite gender to the one in which they were born and brought up. Transsexualism is the most severe of the gender dysphoria conditions, most usually requiring surgical intervention to modify the body and bring it back into balance with the mind. However, sometimes surgery is not wanted, or indeed possible, perhaps due to other medical conditions. In such cases the male-to-female transsexual may live as a woman whilst remaining biologically male. (Also see transgendered section.)
The distress suffered by transsexual people is very severe. Transsexuals are more susceptible to bouts of depression, mood swings, and anxiety than other people with gender dysphoria. They are often disgusted by their physical appearance which does not match in any way the person they believe themselves to be.
In simplistic terms a M to F transsexual knows that she is female, yet when she looks in the mirror (pre-treatment) she sees a man staring back. She knows inside that the man she sees is not her, and this is obviously very upsetting and confusing. The pressure of this knowledge can be so intense that it causes other problems.
Many transsexual women have a troubled past, in part because of their persistently trying to deny these feelings that they are indeed female. They are prone to over-doing things to prove to themselves that they are indeed male after all. Fighting, rough sport, and loud aggressive behaviour may all be seen, whilst the transsexual's battle to come to terms with herself continues to rage on inside.
For a transsexual person to reach a point whereby she decides that help is required is a huge step. It is a terrifying time when the transsexual has to come to terms with the prospect of the loss of her closest friends and family. But the need to be complete, a real person, to stop living a lie, is too great to deny any more. Regardless of what chaos it will cause around her, she has no option but to move forwards and be true to herself.
For a transsexual, to live in the wrong gender/sex for years up to this pivotal moment can be sheer torture. Some describe coming out as transsexual as a rebirth, as although they face many challenges to enable them ultimately to live in their correct gender - surgery, hormones, name change and living/working as female - all of these things pale into insignificance if the only other option is to continue as before.
Transsexuality doesn't just 'happen' out of the blue. In every transsexual person, it has always been there, generally repressed until the transsexual is unable to contain it any more. Due to the complex nature of the problems to be faced, there is a high incidence of suicide in ts people. Many are racked by guilt that they have let down their families and those they love. They believe they are being selfish, indeed many who recognise they are transsexual try to repress their true nature for just this reason. It rarely works and invariably there comes a point when they have to acknowledge themselves for who they are, no matter what the consequences.
© Transpartners 2008