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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.


10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Katherine #

    The reality is (for the most part) that is it not LGBT but rather LG… B… and T. It is a poor grouping of vastly different things.

    January 12, 2010
  2. Amber #

    I am a lesbian and I have many problems using bathrooms. I get consistently mistaken for a guy and asked to leave. I have been verbally and physically harassed. While I agree many trans* issues differ, there are also overlaps such as the one I mentioned when it comes to “gender-and/or-sexually-nonconforming” people.

    December 21, 2014
  3. Emma #

    I have heard many of them opting for Female to male surgery. But what are essentially the risks involved with these ? One of my friend works in McLean’s FTM centre and told me about the increased number of celebrities opting for FTm. Amazing, I must say.

    March 1, 2015
  4. I wish I understood the community as a whole….. especially trans…. trying to…

    July 4, 2015
  5. Annaliese #

    Well…I am a woman and not sexually attracted to men but sexually attracted to woman BUT…I want a loving relationship with a MAN however have a sexual attracted to woman as well (and of course, don’t want a relationship with one) what am I?

    November 27, 2015
  6. A delusion is a strongly held belief that is 100% contradicted by irrefutable facts. Transgender is not a gay rights issue. It is a psychological , delusional malfunction. If someone thinks they are a horse would you recommend that the government accomodates them by giving them a saddle and provide them hay to eat? This is the definition of delusion and “accomodating” that is not helpful but truly hurtful. They need a psychologist not access to the opposite sex bathroom facility.

    February 23, 2016
    • David,
      Transgenderism is a real thing. You’ll find it described in detail in the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 (http://www.dsm5.org/Pages/Default.aspx). It is not a delusion.

      February 24, 2016
    • Annie #

      You my friend, are the one who needs a psychologist.

      April 16, 2016
    • Jesse H. #

      David,

      What do bathrooms have to do with any of this?

      I’m a long standing member of the LGBT community. I came out in 1976 in lesbian form and then again in 1987 in trans form. I currently label myself as trans, FTM, and lesbian identified.

      It is my belief that *trans* issues are very much part and parcel of the gay/lesbian/bi communities. I am of this opinion because of my long term commitment to the politics in, and about, my community. There are those of us that have in the past- and are still- defending ourselves against comments such as yours- “Transgender is not a gay rights issue. It’s a psychological, delusional malfunction.”

      As a senior member of the LGBT community, and having the life experience that I do, it is my educated opinion that should a *trans* person come from a heterosexual orientation into their transition, they maintain that orientation and ultimately, will have “defaulted” into the gay/lesbian/bi communities. Heterosexually oriented *trans* folks will either remain attracted to men (if ftm) and establish themselves as gay men, or they will remain attracted to women (if mtf) and will establish themselves as lesbian. And of course, there are those that are bisexual.

      I maintain my lesbian orientation, regardless of my transition, because I have never been heterosexual and I only have relationships with lesbians. I am not, and never have been, attracted to straight women. Admittedly, my intention in transitioning was NOT because I felt the urge to be a man or male. Thirty years ago when the gender binary was the “law of the land”, it was my way of survival.

      If your indignation is through the eyes of a gay man, it seems to me that you are being as oppressive as the people who may have oppressed you in your coming out process, and as a young gay man, you would have had to find your way in the community as a member.
      If your indignation is through the eyes of a heterosexual man, then you are probably someone who has never been oppressed in any way, for any reason at all- straight male privilege perhaps.

      Having said all of this, my message to you is- in all my years in this community, and dealing with the unlimited amount of words that have been used against me personally, I loath the idea of anyone calling me a “delusional malfunction”, especially since you and I have never met.

      And while I advocate for healthy psychological counseling during the transitional process, and anytime one feels the need, there are plenty of us who live healthy, productive, and not one bit delusional, lives.

      April 29, 2016
    • Andrea #

      Hi David, transgendered people do not have a mental problem unless one includes the stress of not being accepted and the fear of being bullied, victimised, raped and murdered.

      The use of toilets, whether male or female transexual, is only one limited instance of transgender apartheid which is so pervasive across the whole globe. I am M to F who, due my own fears both very real and imagined, have to operate by stealth (and deception).

      I am totally committed to accepting all human differences and, like all transgendered folk I know, will fight for love, acceptance and compassion. I can be more than just trusted with children and vulnerable people, I do and will protect them with everything I can, including death if need be.

      The transgendered folk I know are all caring, compassionate, nurturing and caring people

      August 8, 2016

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