What does it mean to be Transgender?
What is Trans?
Trans is an umbrella term used to describe people with a gender identity and /or gender expression different to their sex assigned at birth. It may be used to encompass many identities that are outside of a cisgender identity.
Cisgender is a term to describe a person whose gender identity and/or expression is the same as their birth sex. i.e. Someone who is identified as male at birth and grows up to identify as a man.
The term Trans is inclusive of the Trans umbrella, but not limited to, identities such as:
Trans is used to describe many kinds of gender identities that fall within the vast experience of human nature.
Gender identity is the person's feeling of being male, female, both, a mixture, or neither, which is shown to other people through gender expression (clothes, hairstyles, mannerisms, etc.). It is separate and independent from sexual orientation. Trans people can be lesbian, gay, bi, straight, pansexual, etc.
How do I know I might be Trans?
There is no single 'right' way for a person to figure out that they are Trans. However, certain things may indicate a Trans identity.
Some may feel that their body is not in line with their deeply felt
sense of self. The way their body looks on the outside may not
match with who they feel they are on the inside.
The development of sex characteristics (such as breasts, facial
hair, etc) during puberty can be a particularly traumatic
experience for some Trans youth. This may result in a
heightened level of body image issues. Gender dysphoria is a
term to describe this discomfort.
If I am not sure, what do I do?
- Become part of a Trans peer group such as IndividualiTy. If this does not exist in your area, consider attending an LGBT youth group.
- Write and/or talk about how you are feeling in a journal or with someone you trust. If you are to talk to someone, it is important to choose the right person, and ideally someone who understands Trans issues.
- Contact an organisation like BeLonG To, TENI for support and advice.
- Find more about being Trans on the internet at sites such as teni.ie, etc.
- Meet with a counsellor at your school, college or university, or with an adult you trust.
- Talk to your GP or other medical professional about how you are feeling.
I think I am Trans, what now?
- Express your gender identity in a way that feels right for you. Small steps in doing this can make a big difference.
- Try out a different name and/or different pronoun (he, she, or gender-neutral pronouns like ze/they) when you refer to yourself in a diary, journal or social media.
- It is important to remember that you are entitled to use whatever name and pronoun you feel comfortable with.
- It is perfectly okay to have whatever gender identity that you feel comfortable with and only you can decide what that is.
- Your gender identity is one part of who you are, and regardless how you identify, it is not the only thing that defines you.
- Talking to others that have been through the same or similar situation can be really helpful.
Coming Out (expressing who you are)
- Coming out is when you tell people that you are Trans.
- Be sure that you are coming out at your own pace andthat you are not rushing into situations where you are not comfortable.
- At first, think about telling someone that you trust. You may have to educate them on Trans issues, so be prepared for some questions and only answer the ones you are comfortable with.
- Ask people to refer to you by the name and pronoun you feel most comfortable with. Be aware that people may make mistakes with this, as it may take time for those around you to get used to your name and pronoun.
- If you don't initially receive a positive response, don't panic – it can take time for people to digest what you have told them. If this happens, consider getting support for yourself.
- Those that react badly may also need someone to talk to. Support and information are available from BeLonG TO and other organisations like TENI.
- BeLonG To provide a safe and non judgemental environment for people to express themselves in their own individual way.
- The term Transitioning refers to the process through which Trans people achieves the appearance, gender expression and self-image they feel is right for them.
- Some people may change their names (officially through a deed poll, or socially), pronouns, style of dress etc. as a means to express their gender identity. Others may feel that a medical Transition (e.g. hormone replacement therapy, surgery, etc.) is the right route for them. Take the steps that you are most comfortable with.
- As you take the steps towards Transitioning, either physically, socially and/or emotionally it can help to get support from others, such as a health professional that is knowledgeable on Trans issues, friends, family members and trusted adult or other Trans people. Ultimately, you should do what feels right for you and take as much time to decide as you need.
- You are able to change some legal documents like your passport and drivers' licenses when you officially change your name through deed poll.
- For up to date information relating to Transitioning in Ireland, please contact BeLonG To.
- IndividualiTy is a social group for young Trans people and those questioning their gender identity. It aims to provide a safe, positive and fun space where Trans youth can relax, be themselves and make friends.
I think my child/family member/friend is Trans.
If you think someone you know is struggling with their gender identity or might be Trans the best thing to do is make sure they know that you love and support them. Coming to terms with your gender identity can be a difficult journey as there is so much social stigma. As parents, family members or friends it's important to listen and try not to make assumptions – create a space where that person can be honest and open about their gender.
1. Many Trans people are scared that if they come out they might be
rejected. Tell them that you love them no matter what and that
you support them to be true to themselves.
2. Educate yourself on Trans issues. There are great books or resources
on the internet that will help you understand the issues.
A resource from Scotland by and for Trans youth:
3. Don't be afraid to raise the topic but be gentle. Putting pressure on
someone to come out can cause anxiety and stress. The person
needs to move at their own pace but knowing that you are Trans/
LGB friendly can make them feel safer and more confident to raise
the issues when they're ready.
- If you see they are very distressed let them know you're open to talking about anything with them.
- Ask if there is someone else that they would like to talk to, perhaps suggesting they speak to a professional who is aware of Trans identity.
- Don't be afraid to get your own support. This can be a challenging time for your family and speaking to other people who have gone through or are going through the same process can be helpful.
Contact BeLonG To, TENI for more information.
My child/sibling/friend came out as Trans. What should I do?
When someone comes out as Trans it can be difficult for family or friends to understand. You might wonder what you did or why this happened. Some people feel guilt, shame or fear. Just remember that it takes great courage to be honest about this experience and that there is nothing wrong with being Trans. Respect the persons feelings about their gender identity above all else. Things you could do include:
- Recognise that this is not something that could have been changed, and that gender identity is hard wired from birth.
- Show your support and let them know your relationship won't change.
- Respect their name and pronoun they wish to be addressed by. If you make a mistake, apologise and correct yourself.
- Accept them and what they are telling you. It is likely that they have taken some time to talk to you about this and need your understanding.
- Get in contact with support services that can give you support and accurate information.
- Find out more and educate yourself on Trans issues.
- Find appropriate supports for your child etc. if that is what they want.
Further Information can be found from:
BeLonG To is the national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) young people, aged between 14 and 23.
Parliament House, 13 Parliament Street, Dublin 2, Ireland.
Contact us in Confidence Today:
(Office hours only. Mon - Fri from 9.00am - 13.00 and 14.00 - 17.00)
How to find us:
IndividualiTy meets every Wednesday evening from 5.30 till 7.30 in the BeLonG To Office. To find out when the next meeting is on contact a youth worker at the number or email above.
Tel: 01 873 3575
Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) seeks to improve conditions and advance the rights and equality of TransTrans* people and their families