A bit on trans people

Lorcan

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So this is a bit of a Q&A on trans people, our history, what prominent members of the trans community have been responsible for since Stonewall, and a bit about where we're at now with trans rights in various places around the world. My thanks go to @PigglePuggle for helping me put this together, finding common questions and getting some answers to them and maybe clearing a few things up you wouldn't be sure of otherwise.


1. What's the history of trans people and trans rights historically,
before the 20th century?
Trans people have existed in European cultures for a long time, but
traditionally never admitted to being trans. There's stories of men
dying and only when the bodies have been prepared for burial has anyone
realised that said man was transgender. Cultures, such as certain Native
American tribes, were much more accepting of trans people in their
midst, using the English word "two-spirit" to describe someone as being
of a 3rd gender. While it's never been the case that everyone has been
accepting of it, trans people didn't suddenly start to exist in the 20th
century - they've been around a long time.
2. What do we know about 20th century trans history, before Stonewall?
Trans people, like the rest of the LGBT community, were not well treated
in communities in the UK / North America / etc. Cross dressing was
"unnatural" and many were made homeless with little more than the
clothes on their backs. Many were forced into prostitution, even those
under 18, to be able to earn some money to survive. They had few (if
any) job prospects because of their "unnatural behavior" and criminal
records for working the streets, or violating decency laws. Stonewall
was less of a turning point for the trans community as it was for the
rest of the LGBT community because they were "obviously different", and
certain members of the gay and lesbian community didn't want to be
associated with them because they felt they'd drag everyone down. During
what was the first Pride march, members of the trans community were told
they couldn't march with the others because they were inappropriate -
the response from those trans women was to march ahead of the rest of
the parade instead. It was their Pride as much as it was the LGB's
Pride.

3. Tell us about what Marsha P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera contributed
to campaigning for gay and trans rights.
Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera were two massive voices in the trans
community in the 60s and beyond. They fought to give voices to queer
youth left behind by the system, for drag queens, for those stuck in
jail or in prison who were also queer. They were also part of the fight
to pass the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) in New
York. The movement they both began, the Street Transvestite Action
Revolutionaries (STAR) pushed for the New York City Transgender Rights
Bill and for trans inclusion to SONDA.
The fight wasn't only related to transgender and queer rights. Rivera
also fought against discrimination against people of colour and people
of poverty, believing that these issues intersected with her work for
the queer community and didn't deserve to be left behind. She was not a
fan of the Gay Activists Alliance, believing it to be too conservative
and "too full of cis white men". She was banned, in the 90s, for several
years from New York's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community
Centre for aggressively demanding they take care of homeless and queer
youth.


4. What sort of prejudice, hate and oppression do trans people still
face today? Is this mostly through ignorance, or is it deliberate hate
by certain groups?
Some of it is ignorance. People think you can "catch" being transgender
much like you can "catch" being gay. Of course it doesn't happen, but it
doesn't stop people believing. There's such a thing in the trans
community called "transgender broken arm syndrome". It's when you go to
the doctor, say because you have a broken arm, and the doctor says they
can't treat you because they don't know how to treat transgender people.
It happens a lot more than you'd think, and that's ignorance coming from
the medical system. If the doctors can't get it right, is it any wonder
the general public can't?
That's not to say there isn't deliberate hate, there is. The trans panic
defence for murder still exists in some countries much like the gay
panic defence. Some people think they have a right to know exactly "what
you are", some people will insist on misgendering you because they
believe it's their right to do so. Access to hormone treatment can be
next to impossible to get for some people, and if they buy their
hormones online they run the risk of being caught with unlicensed
medication or "drugs" and getting hit with drug charges on their record.

5. What's your perspective on the reasons why trans people are so
vulnerable to mental health issues, and at higher risk of suicide?
Some groups like to use our suicide rates or suicide attempt rates and
claim this means it's being transgender that's the mental illness, so
it's being transgender that needs to be cured. But serious mental health
issue levels drop considerably once someone gets started on transition
treatment, like hormones. Therefore it's not being transgender that's
the mental illness, but it's living as transgender and being unable to
live in their own skin without transitioning that causes the mental
health difficulties. Worldwide, there's a massive body of agreement that
transitioning is the best treatment for a trans person who requires it.
 

Lorcan

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6. What is the current legal situation in the UK regarding trans
people being allowed to make their gender status official?
The Gender Recognition Act (GRA) in the UK allows for a legal change of
gender. You apply, you get brought before a panel of people, and if they
agree, you get a shiny new birth certificate, legally known as a Gender
Recognition Certificate (GRC). So while I'm registered as male with
pretty much every department the government has, and with the NHS (which
can cause a few hiccups, but nothing serious), if I had a British
passport my gender marker would still be F - UNLESS I had a gender
recognition certificate. Then it would switch to M.
It's a bit more complicated for people who are married. The GRA was
originally made law when gay marriage is no longer illegal , so if someone
was married and wanted to get a GRC, they would have to get permission
from their spouse to be able to divorce to get the GRC. Now gay marriage
is legal, but that part of the GRA still applies for now.

7. Do any countries do much better on trans rights than the UK? And
which countries or states are the most oppressive?
I don't know an awful lot about the different countries of the world,
but I will talk about Ireland and its passport process because of my
experience of it. Being born in Northern Ireland I have both British
(via my mother, who is English) and Irish citizenship. I can get an
Irish passport with an updated gender marker without having to go
through all the processes available to get the marker changed like I
would with a British one. I recommend reading this:
This Is How 23 Countries Feel About Transgender Rights
whilst it's not an exhaustive list, and it's a few years old, it's a
decent representation.


8. What's your perspective on the different issues faced by trans men
and trans women?
As a trans man, I have less issues to look for in life than a trans
woman would. We're less likely to suffer discrimination based on how we
look, for job hunting, and so on. Trans women, particularly trans women
of colour, are more likely to be the victims of violence or murder
(again, the trans panic defence). We have our own issues, yes, but we're
much less likely to meet an early death because of it.
9. Why do you think some feminists seem to have an issue with trans
rights? And how accepting of trans men are heterosexual cis men
generally?
There's a group of feminists known as TERFs, or Trans Exclusionary
Radical Feminists. They believe many things, the biggest one being that
womens spaces are for cis women only, no trans women allowed. They view
trans women as sexual predators ready to pounce on vulnerable cis women
at the drop of a hat. JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series,
is a TERF. She tweeted a congratulations to Stephen King about
something, and when King asked her "what about trans women" she deleted
the tweet, removed (and I think) blocked King, and never said a word
about it again. She denies being a TERF, saying she's just worried about
womens safety. Thing is, trans women _are_ women. They might have
different plumbing downstairs but that's it. But that's what matters to
TERFs, the plumbing you were born with. Apparently it's that alone that
decides who a human being is and what they're capable of.
As for cis men accepting trans men...none of the ones I've met ever
really cared. But my circle of friends, and even the wider circle of
acquaintances, is very much an LGBTQ+ and allies circle. It's not a
small circle by any means but it does mean I've never had the
opportunity to really ask someone separately from that.

10. Tell us about pronouns... he, she, they and more besides! Is
saying they safest if someone isnt sure? Do you get misgendered
yourself much? And how much does it bother you?
I get misgendered all the time. Depending on who it is doing it, I'll
interrupt them to correct them. No apologies for doing it either. I
don't correct strangers because generally I don't see the point, so if
I'm correcting someone then it's someone I know, and someone who should
definitely not get it wrong.
I default to they if I don't know. Some people will come out with it
straight away. Some people might correct you a bit further down the
conversational road. I've learned to be fluid about it. Sometimes I'll
need to apologise for getting it wrong. Some people will care about it
much more than others.
 
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Betsy

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You can't help who you are or how you were born. You are what you are and that is it. If people can't accept it then stuff them! Just because you feel you have been born into the wrong body doesn't change your personality or make you any different from what you were before anybody found out. I had a Great Uncle who was gay when it was illegal to be gay. He was still a lovely person and was a complete gentleman. I really can't understand what all the fuss is about. You are what you are if people can't accept that then it is their loss.
 

Swissgreys

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Really interesting and very helpful @Lorcan
Thank you for taking so much time to put it all together.

And I can understand why so many people are part of online communities.
I feel like I 'know' many people on this Forum quite well, but the reality is that 99% of the time I actually have no idea if that person is male or female, how old they are, what colour their skin is, etc. They just love guinea pigs and for me that is really all I need to know.
 

PigglePuggle

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Its true it was a real privilege to read the info @Lorcan gave me about this to learn about trans history and issues to pose some questions that cis folks might have about transgender folks... we only learn by respecting each other and trying to educate ourselves about other people's experience, right?
 

Lorcan

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Really interesting and very helpful @Lorcan
Thank you for taking so much time to put it all together.

And I can understand why so many people are part of online communities.
I feel like I 'know' many people on this Forum quite well, but the reality is that 99% of the time I actually have no idea if that person is male or female, how old they are, what colour their skin is, etc. They just love guinea pigs and for me that is really all I need to know.
I feel weird saying "you have no idea" but the difference that relative anonymity makes is enormous. You meet someone face to face and those sorts of things are obvious from the start, but places like here, I think it took a year at least before anybody knew and that's probably because I told them. I don't remember, it was a while ago lol. We could all be one eyed, one horned, flying purple people eaters for all we know.
 

ThomasThePiggyDad

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Hi all :)

I’m a transman too. Originally from the UK and now living in Canada with my Canadian husband.

I have to say that Canada is an extremely welcoming country. I live in Ottawa which is a pretty big city and I’ve never felt unsafe as someone who is gay and trans. Transitioning is thankfully covered by provincial healthcare including all surgies and hormone therapies.

Provincial healthcare unfortunately doesn’t cover prescriptions and there’s no small NHS prescription fee like back in the UK. Luckily my workplace provides and excellent healthcare package which means I get 80% off prescription costs which can be very helpful when my testosterone costs $250 a month without it!

There isn’t as much of a wait time to get things done over here. Gender Identity Clinics are so underfunded in the UK and waiting for that first appointment to be seen can take over a year once your doctor refers you. In Canada they use an informed consent model so you can refer yourself to the Gender Clinic without the need for any official diagnosis.

People over here seem a lot less quick to gender someone. You don’t get a lot of sir/madam in restaurants or out and about. I’ve noticed colleagues at work refer to client as ‘they’ or ‘their’ when they are unsure of gender (we don’t deal with clients face to face) so it’s nice to see that there are less assumptions here. I suppose it helps that the current Canadian prime minister has been marching in pride parades over here!

Sadly when I returned to the UK last year I didn’t feel as safe and understood. It could just be because my hometown is quite small but I often felt like I was stared at. When I came out at work my UK colleagues were a lot more ‘shocked’ and I was the only transgender employee on the payroll and it was a little bit awkward at times and there were more than a few uncomfortable questions.

Anyway, there’s some perspective on being trans in Canada :)
 

Lorcan

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Hi all :)

I’m a transman too. Originally from the UK and now living in Canada with my Canadian husband.

I have to say that Canada is an extremely welcoming country. I live in Ottawa which is a pretty big city and I’ve never felt unsafe as someone who is gay and trans. Transitioning is thankfully covered by provincial healthcare including all surgies and hormone therapies.

Provincial healthcare unfortunately doesn’t cover prescriptions and there’s no small NHS prescription fee like back in the UK. Luckily my workplace provides and excellent healthcare package which means I get 80% off prescription costs which can be very helpful when my testosterone costs $250 a month without it!

There isn’t as much of a wait time to get things done over here. Gender Identity Clinics are so underfunded in the UK and waiting for that first appointment to be seen can take over a year once your doctor refers you. In Canada they use an informed consent model so you can refer yourself to the Gender Clinic without the need for any official diagnosis.

People over here seem a lot less quick to gender someone. You don’t get a lot of sir/madam in restaurants or out and about. I’ve noticed colleagues at work refer to client as ‘they’ or ‘their’ when they are unsure of gender (we don’t deal with clients face to face) so it’s nice to see that there are less assumptions here. I suppose it helps that the current Canadian prime minister has been marching in pride parades over here!

Sadly when I returned to the UK last year I didn’t feel as safe and understood. It could just be because my hometown is quite small but I often felt like I was stared at. When I came out at work my UK colleagues were a lot more ‘shocked’ and I was the only transgender employee on the payroll and it was a little bit awkward at times and there were more than a few uncomfortable questions.

Anyway, there’s some perspective on being trans in Canada :)
Thank you for that! I will say the waiting lists aren't as bad as they used to be...not that that's saying much, Leeds used to have a waiting list of over 4 years. They are planning on running pilot services for new gender dysphoria services in Manchester, London and Merseyside (see here: How to find an NHS gender dysphoria clinic) that are specifically to be for new patients stuck on waiting lists for elsewhere. That edit is from May but I have no idea how much has gone ahead, what with Covid.
 

PigglePuggle

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Hi all :)

I’m a transman too. Originally from the UK and now living in Canada with my Canadian husband.

I have to say that Canada is an extremely welcoming country. I live in Ottawa which is a pretty big city and I’ve never felt unsafe as someone who is gay and trans. Transitioning is thankfully covered by provincial healthcare including all surgies and hormone therapies.

Provincial healthcare unfortunately doesn’t cover prescriptions and there’s no small NHS prescription fee like back in the UK. Luckily my workplace provides and excellent healthcare package which means I get 80% off prescription costs which can be very helpful when my testosterone costs $250 a month without it!

There isn’t as much of a wait time to get things done over here. Gender Identity Clinics are so underfunded in the UK and waiting for that first appointment to be seen can take over a year once your doctor refers you. In Canada they use an informed consent model so you can refer yourself to the Gender Clinic without the need for any official diagnosis.

People over here seem a lot less quick to gender someone. You don’t get a lot of sir/madam in restaurants or out and about. I’ve noticed colleagues at work refer to client as ‘they’ or ‘their’ when they are unsure of gender (we don’t deal with clients face to face) so it’s nice to see that there are less assumptions here. I suppose it helps that the current Canadian prime minister has been marching in pride parades over here!

Sadly when I returned to the UK last year I didn’t feel as safe and understood. It could just be because my hometown is quite small but I often felt like I was stared at. When I came out at work my UK colleagues were a lot more ‘shocked’ and I was the only transgender employee on the payroll and it was a little bit awkward at times and there were more than a few uncomfortable questions.

Anyway, there’s some perspective on being trans in Canada :)
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us @ThomasThePiggyDad :)
 

Scooter Pie

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Thank you for sharing those important resources!

Where I live in the US, my state's Health Secretary is Dr Rachel Levine, one of the few Trans people in our government and she is AWESOME and makes me proud of one tiny thing, living here 💕 (and that is saying a lot!) Such calming voice in the current madness
 
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