A Primer on Transsexuality
people who visit
this web site may find some of the information overwhelming.
This primer, written for the late grade school - early high school level,
should provide a basic understanding of what transsexuality is all about.
Transsexuality is a birth defect. It occurs because of changes in the amount of hormones in the womb. If these changes happen during certain critical times when a child's brain is forming, the cells get the wrong 'signal'. If it is a boy baby, the brain fails to get the signal to become a male brain. If it is a girl baby, the brain gets the wrong signal, a signal to become a female brain. The body of the baby, however, is not affected very much, or at all. This is because the brain is very, very delicate and sensitive to chemicals such as hormones.
When the baby is born, it appears normal. It looks like a normal boy or girl. However, the brain inside the baby is a brain of the opposite sex. Brains have sex. They have unique circuitry for male brains and for female brains. This is true of all sorts of animals. This birth defect happens to rats, cats, dogs, apes, birds, and every other sort of mammal. We cannot tell if it happens to things like snakes and bugs and lizards and such. Their behavior is too difficult to determine. Humans are animals too. So it happens to us.
When a transsexual baby grows up, it starts showing symptoms at an early age, usually around five or so. Boy babies will act like girl babies, and girl babies will act like boy babies. They act naturally, because that is who they really are, inside, in the brain. The brain is where a person's 'Self' is. The brain IS the person. The body is like a car that the brain 'drives' around. The brain is the driver.
As the young transsexual grows up, they find that it hurts a LOT to have the wrong body. Everything they feel, everything they want, everything they think about, they are told is wrong. If they look like a boy on the outside, they act like a girl -of course- because that is who they really are. They get beat up for that, hit, hurt, hated, rejected, called names, sometimes even killed. The same is true if the transsexual looks like a girl on the outside...inside they are really a boy, and when they try to be themselves, they are insulted, hit, hurt, and told to act like a girl.
To understand this, imagine that you are you, just as you are right now, but that all of a sudden you have a body of the opposite sex. The whole world thinks you have always been this way, from birth. Even so, you know who you really are. Everybody treats you like how you look. You are not allowed to do most of the things you like, or that are normal to you. You are not treated the same, and when you try to be yourself, you get punished. When you try to act like how you look, you find it is a LOT harder to do than you imagined, because it just is not you, and you don't understand it. Worse, you know how your body should be built. You know what parts should be there, and what parts should not be there. Your whole body feels 'wrong'. You know what it should feel like, but it does not. You have to go to the bathroom 'wrong', you sit, stand, and walk 'wrong'. Everything is wrong, and it feels like being a freak and a monster all the time. Finally, as far as you know, there is no way to ever, ever make things right. Your whole life will be one misery and disappointment after another. If you act like yourself, people will hate you. If you act like what you look like, you will hate yourself. And all the time this is going on, your body just plain feels horribly, terribly wrong.
There is more, too. When puberty comes, and your body starts changing into being an adult, sex hormones turn on. These hormones, if you are a transsexual, feel more than just wrong. They feel beyond wrong. If you look like a boy, but are a girl on the inside...what is called a Male-To-Female transsexual (because that is the way you wish your body would change to become correct), then a sudden rush of male hormones feels like a demon is controlling you. It feels all evil and horrible and scary. It makes your body want things and do things that are completely unnatural for you. It is more awful than awful.
For the transsexual that looks like a girl on the outside, but is really a boy on the inside (the Female-To-Male transsexual), having female hormones flood the body is just as bad, in a different way. Imagine any normal boy having to deal with getting a period, growing breasts, and becoming feminine. It would be like an unending nightmare, like being in hell. and all of this is just the beginning.
As the transsexual grows up, parents, family, friends, all have expectations. They expect the transsexual to be a normal man or woman, based only on what they look like on the outside. Now, as they become mature, and sexuality becomes important to them, they are just like any person. This can cause problems for the transsexual, because who they are attracted to can become a big issue to other people. To the transsexual, they are just being themselves, but to the outside they may be considered to be homosexual, which is another thing people hurt people about being. Being homosexual is a different thing than being transsexual, though it is caused by similar means. In effect, being homosexual is being partly, but not completely transsexual. Only part of the brain gets changed, not the whole brain. If that same area is NOT changed in the transsexual, but everything else IS, then the transsexual will be homosexual AND transsexual. This could result in a Male-To-Female transsexual who despite being a female inside, prefers other females. Such a person would be a lesbian, only look like a male on the outside. For the Female-To-Male transsexual who is also homosexual, they would look like a female on the outside, but inside, would have the brain of a gay man.
Some silly people think this should solve the problem. They think things like "well, if you like girls, and you look like a guy, then isn't that just perfect? I mean you could get married, have kids, and everything!". This is an ignorant statement. Transsexuality is not about sexuality. It is about identity, about being one's self. Even if a Male-To-Female transsexual did this, they would still constantly suffer because their body was wrong. If they had sex, they would have to have sex as a male, because that is what their body looks like. That would be all wrong for them. And they could not hope to have a real, honest relationship with their partner, because their partner would always think of them as a guy, and not as the woman they really are. Basically, it is all messed up in so many ways, it is difficult to list them all. It is not perfect. It is horrible too, just as horrible as being transsexual and being straight.
Inside, the transsexual knows what they are, but by this time, even trying to tell anyone is so scary, so horrible, so filled with fear of being hated, hurt, or even killed, that they just try to do their best, and hope to die soon. Some transsexuals are not as tough as others, just like any type of people, and so they just cannot suffer anymore. Many transsexuals kill themselves, because it hurts so much.
However, in the last 60 years or so, medicine and surgery has become very advanced. Now there is hope for transsexuals. if a transsexual can manage to conquer their fear enough, they can seek help. They can be given the correct hormones. The correct hormones change the body to match the brain. The body starts to alter and to turn into what it should be. For the transsexual, this is like a dream come true. Imagine if you thought you were going to be trapped your whole life as the wrong sex, and suddenly there was hope! Hope that you could get your birth defect fixed. Hope that you might finally live a normal life as yourself!
But hormones can only do so much. They can change many of the soft parts of the body, such as skin, and fat, the overall shape of the body. Hormones can grow breasts, but they cannot make them go away. And as for the sex organs, hormones cannot change anything that complicated.
For that, surgery is required. After several years of hormones, the transsexual, if they have enough money, can get surgery. Surgery is the final part of fixing the body and curing the birth defect. Surgery is much more difficult and expensive for the Female-To-Male transsexual than for the Male-To-Female transsexual. Because of this, some Female-To-Male transsexuals never have surgery. It can take hundreds of thousands of dollars, and ten or more operations. That is a lot!
However, the Male-To-Female transsexual has things much easier by comparison. Generally only one operation is needed, and it only takes about two to three hours, and costs about as much as a new car. The result is much better too. The reason for this is because there is more tissue to work with, and because being female is kind of the 'stock' human form. All babies start out as proto-female (kind of female, but more neuter) and some then get mutated into being male. It is easier to change things back to their stock form at our current state of technology. It is much harder to change a female body into a male body, if the mutation did not already occur in the womb. Having hormones, then surgery, is called 'transition'. This is because the transsexual makes a physical transition from one sex to another. Of course, inside their body, their brain always stays the same. The brain does not change, just the body.
This shows an important point. There is a big difference between sex and gender. Sex is all about the body. Sex is how the body is shaped, how it functions, male or female. Gender is the 'sex' of the brain, apart from the body. Gender is the identity of the person inside the body. The two, clearly, can be in conflict. That is what a transsexual is, a person whose sex, whose body, is wrong for their gender, the person inside the body. Sometimes people use the two words as though they meant the same thing. They do not. Sex and gender mean different, but related things.
Now all of this pretty much solves the problem for the transsexual, at least with regard to being transsexual. Because their body is now correct for the brain that owns it, the transsexual is freed from most of the suffering. Now they can hope to live more or less a normal life. This of course all depends on how perfect the change of the body was. If the person still looks partly like what they looked like before, then people will tend to treat them like a freak, and hurt them for being different. If they finish their transition and end up appearing perfectly as the sex they should have been, then they are simply accepted. Thus, in order to avoid being hurt by other people, ending up perfect is important.
This is very sad, because it is very, very hard to end up perfect. The older a person is when they go through transition, the harder it is to come out the other side perfect. It is possible to end up perfect, just less likely. This is because so many years have gone by where the person was exposed to the wrong hormones, and this changes the body. After too many years, these changes can be very hard to reverse sometimes. Some very rare transsexuals can never have their bodies changed to match their brains. This could be because they have heart problems, or even because they simply lack a gene that lets their cells be affected by hormones. This is beyond sad. It is hopelessly terrible. Even so, they often do what they can, as best they can. Of course, this means that people will often be mean to them.
That shows the single biggest problem for any transsexual. The biggest threat to any transsexual -other than despair- is other people. Especially other people who do not understand what transsexuality really is, or confuse it with other things, or just plain are stupid, or mean, or bigoted. Some people harm transsexuals because they think their religion tells them to hurt people. Other people hurt transsexuals because the fact that birth defects happen scares them. It is kind of scary that babies can be born wrong, but there are many birth defects far, far more horrible than being born transsexual. Birth defects are just part of life, unfortunately.
All of this hate towards transsexuals can make transsexuals hate themselves, too. This also causes some transsexuals to kill themselves, when they believe the hatred that other people tell them. This is very sad.
Not everything about being a transsexual is all horrible, though. Strangely, transsexuals seem to have been given gifts by the same mistake that created them in the womb. On average, transsexuals are two standard deviations more intelligent than the average person. This means that they are often about 30 points higher in intelligence than the average person. Many are of genius level intelligence. It is believed that this may be due to the way in which the brain is altered in the womb, gaining some small benefits from both sexes at the same time, but nobody really knows for sure. Transsexuals are also commonly much, much more creative than the average person. This also is most likely caused by their unique brains. Many, many transsexuals become important and famous computer scientists, astronomers, physicists, and biologists. Others become musicians, artists, game designers, and writers. In general, transsexuals tend to follow complex and intellectual fields of work and play. Although it is certainly an accident, it sometimes seems as though Nature tried to compensate slightly for all that suffering. It is fortunate in any event, because being transsexual is so very difficult and full of hardship.
In the end, if a transsexual gets help, or seeks help, and can successfully transition to the correct body for their brain, then they can hope to finally have a decent life. They can hope to be happy, have honest relationships, and be accepted. They can never get back the precious years of childhood that were stolen from them, and this can be very sad for the rest of their lives. They can also suffer because most people have difficulty accepting transsexuality as being real. For this reason, most transsexuals are shunned by their parents, friends, kin, relatives, basically everyone who every knew them before. Losing all of that hurts, especially when one has grown up believing that all those people really loved you. Still, there are new friends, better friends to be found, and it is possible to put together a new family of people who all care about each other, even if they are not related by blood. In the end, over 98% of all post-transition transsexuals report that they are vastly happier, and are very, very grateful for being able to correct their bodies. That is the highest success rate -for any procedure- in all of medicine. That alone is an amazing thing, and clearly shows that proper treatment helps transsexuals.
There are many successful transsexual people in the world, and some of them are famous people you see on TV or read about, only you do not know that they are transsexual. They don't want the world to know, because they have suffered enough, and too many people are narrow minded, filled with hate and bigotry, and would try to hurt them, or destroy their careers. Sometimes this happens, and a transsexual is 'Outed' (somebody makes a big fuss over the fact that the person is transsexual and tells everyone) against their will. This usually destroys their lives. It is cruel. If a transsexual is not open about being a transsexual, it is because they just want to put their birth defect behind them. How would you like to go forever through life being known only as "The man born with a deformed foot!" or ''The woman with six fingers!" and nothing you ever did would matter more than that? It would be awful. Now imagine being fired from your dream job because of it, or refused a place to live, or being beaten up or killed because of it. That is why many transsexuals hide their history as best they can. Unless that choice has been taken away from them by other people.
Some rare transsexuals do not hide. They try to change things, and make them better for other transsexuals. They try to stand up and tell the world that transsexuality is just a birth defect like any other, and that people should be more tolerant of people with birth defects. Some people think these outspoken transsexuals are insane...because human beings are basically rotten, and that nothing will ever change the mindless bigotry and hate in the world. This may be true. However, some transsexuals think it is important to at least try to make things less evil. Even if it seems hopeless.
In the end, with proper treatment, transsexuals can have happy, productive lives. Without treatment, transsexuals just get worse with each passing year, until finally, they either kill themselves, or they seek treatment. Because transsexuals are so intelligent and creative, it is probably to the advantage of everyone that they live, and that means having their birth defect corrected.