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The differences between the Transgender and the Gay/Lesbian experience.

While transgendered individuals are now often lumped in with gay folk under the “LGBT” umbrella (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), there are certain differences in experience that are important to understand. Historically the G&L community was accepting of trans folk, and over the years became more inclusive of them, but there are important differences.

  • Transgendered Individuals (and I’m speaking of mostly, but not exclusively of transsexuals here) experience gender dysphoria, whereas gays and lesbians do not.
  • Transgendered Individuals have to jump through many “hoops” in order to transition, whereas gay folk just “come out”. Coming out is also part of the T. experience, but there are many more steps involved to transition. Transgendered Individuals deal with body dysphoria, as well as social acceptance isues.
  • Transgendered Individuals use medical services much more. Trans folk need hormones, surgeries, voice, facial hair, therapy, etc..
  • The sexuality of a Transgendered Individual might be “straight”. If a transman is attracted to women, then he’s straight, if a transwoman is attracted to men, then she’s straight.
  • Gay and Lesbian are variants of sexuality, whereas transgendered individuals have variants of gender.
  • Society has become a little more accepting of Gays and Lesbians, and the acceptance of transsexuals lags behind.
  • Gays and Lesbians don’t have problems using bathrooms, whereas Transgendered Individuals can have problems. When one is in transition or has transitioned, but elected not to have SRS (sex reassignment surgery), it can be very uncomfortable (and possibly dangerous) to use a bathroom that does not offer sufficient privacy.
  • Family members of a Transgendered Individual do a little more “coming-out” than with a Gay or Lesbian family member. Example, someone who discovers they have a gay son, can decide to share or not share that information when asked about their son, but someone with a son who has transitioned to a woman, now has a different decision to make when someone asks them about their “son”.
  • The Transgendered Individual has to deal with name changes, legal documents, titles, etc for example explaining historical anomalies, such as why one’s degree was granted under a different name.

Well, what does one do with all this information? It’s just good to be aware of it. There’s a benefit to joining forces for political purposes, but there’s also the danger of minimizing or equating the Transgender experience with that of Gays and Lesbians

 (For a more basic discussion of the Difference between Gay and Transgender see this post.)

Find out about Psychotherapy when dealing with Gender variance in yourself or someone close to you.


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