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Transgender: Out or Not?

Posted on June 20, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Transgender people aren’t like gays and lesbians – coming “out of the closet” doesn’t mean the same thing for them. For a gay or lesbian person, it means telling the world (or at least those closest to them) that they want to have open relationships with persons of the same sex. They want these relationships to be considered normal and acceptable.

 

But if you are transgender, you are simply trapped in the wrong body: a male brain in a female body or vice versa. Coming out means telling the world that you have what amounts to a controversial and little understood (by the public and many medical professionals) birth defect. Once you’ve done that, even if you transition to a completely congruent body, you will always be seen as “different” by those who know the whole story.

 

The problem is that unlike gays, transgender people usually don’t want to be seen as different. Gays have a different sexual orientation – most transgenders are heterosexual in accordance with their brain gender. They just want to live lives as typical heterosexual men and women. “Coming out” for them is seen as heading in the wrong direction.

 

Many transgender people I’ve worked with have wanted to make the physical transition to a “new” body as quietly and quickly as possible, without the world knowing. That’s not easy, but a common ploy is to substantially complete the transition, then move to a new job and community for a fresh start. This works best if they “pass” well in their new body.

 

The move from high school to college is a popular time to make the change. Some students begin as soon as they turn 18, assuming they have the financial resources and necessary family support, often during the last year in high school. They might even take a year off to complete the transition, then it’s off to college with their new identity and the chance to build the life they’ve always wanted.

Categories: Transgender Topics

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