There is immense confusion when it comes to defining Transgender and Sexual orientation. Transgender is an intense disturbance of one’s sense of sexual identity (Walworth 2012). The individual will have a deep desire to belong to the opposite gender. As a result of this enormous admiration of the opposite gender, individuals adopt lifestyles and characteristics exhibited by members of their opposite sex (Walworth 2012). On the other hand, sexual orientation refers to the attraction of a certain gender. Sex orientation occurs in three folds: straight, homosexuals, and bisexuals. Straight sexual orientation refers to the situation when one’s attraction is to people of the opposite sex. Similarly, homosexual orientation is when one finds members of the same gender attractive. Bisexual is when an individual has an affectionate attraction towards members of both male and female genders. It is vital to note that transgender just like any other human can fall in any of these groups. (Walworth 2012). Transgender is not a disease, but just illusions and emotions that an individual may have. In addition, if people get help early, they will not have to undergo all the consequences of dealing with it in unhealthy ways.
What is a disease?
No matter what human beings do, the world will never be a perfect place. Controversial issues in the society, such as abortion, abuse, adultery, AIDS, death, disabilities, diseases, divorce drug abuse, and euthanasia will always be there. Individuals in the society view these controversial issues differently. How do people in the society view diseases? What does a disease mean? It usually means that an individual is not well. Some individuals consider gender identity disorder to be a disease. These people feel out of place in society. Opposed to the belief of most members of the society, transgender is not disease, it is an illusion and emotion an individual may have. Therefore, it is possible for every person to deal with the condition using different methods other than medical treatments. When dealt with it early in life, the individual will not go through all the problems that transgender people undergo. Illusions come and go; with the right conviction, a transgender individual may acquire a new mind set away from the transgender line of thought.
Dealing with being transgender early in life
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The best time to deal with the issue of transgender and hopefully avoid facing discrimination associated with it is during the early stages. People who identify the condition and take action before it becomes worse get help faster than those who have persevered with the condition for a longer period. This is because it is effortless to find out the cause of the situation just as it begins to develop. An individual will find it embarrassing to disclose his/her transgender issues to a psychologist during the early stages of the condition because emotions causing it are yet to intensify. According to Bockting, Knudson, and Goldberg (2006), children respond better to counseling as compares to adults while those who are developing the transgender condition are likely to show positive results after a relatively shorter duration than those who have lived with the condition for several years.
Ways to Deal with Being Transgendered
Transgender is not a malady, thus, methods useful in dealing with it vary from those used to treat other mental conditions and diseases (Swenson 1998). Since it is a psychological condition, remedies are therapeutic treatments. Different people will approach the issue in varied ways. For example, there are those who will overlook it, those who will find it best to discuss the condition, and those who will choose to undergo surgery. It is crucial to note that none of the three methods can yield a hundred percent effectiveness (Swenson 1998). They all have their weaknesses and an individual should evaluate them based on their knowledge of outcomes (Swenson 1998). Keeping silence is the method a majority of transgender people use to hide their weakness. What they fail to know is that failure to disclose transgender issues will only lead to challenging psychological situations ahead (Swenson 1998). After a long period of suppressing feelings and emotions, this feeling mount up to a level where one can no longer hold them back. About forty percent of such individuals will either become violent or end up committing suicide (Tardy 2007). The reason why most people choose to maintain their silence on the matter is to avoid discrimination. Discrimination comes along after people realize that an individual is transgender (Tardy 2007).
Surgery as a Solution
Severe cases of gender-discontent lead individuals to choose the option of surgery to change their physical gender (Strange 2012). Some people think that surgery makes transgender people happy, but only for a short period. The conversion process from one gender to the other is a long, complex, and costly procedure. Despite the high costs and pain involved in surgery operations, people still undergo surgery to get the gender they desire. According to Steve (2012), a typical transition will cost anything between a thousand and five thousand US dollars and will take a period of one to two years. On the other hand, hormone therapy costs approximately three thousand to twenty four thousand depending on the hormones and the location selected. A mid range gender transition costs between forty to fifty thousand US dollars on average; this includes surgery costs (Strange 2012). However, for other people having a sex change operation can have disastrous effects on their lives later (Strange 2012). This is because those who have undergone surgical sex change claim that the society isolates them. (Strange 2012). They go through intense mental and psychological torture, which makes them lead lonely and hopeless lives. Gary, a man who underwent a gender transition at the age of twenty-three years attests that a gender change is a serious mistake that one can make in life (Strange 2012). This is because, after the surgery most of his relatives disregarded him claiming that he was challenging God. Almost fifty percent of those who choose to change their gender feel happy and contented at first, but slowly the bliss fades away leaving them depressed and hopeless (Strange 2012).
Counseling: Does it help transgendered people accept the way they are?
Transgender people go through their lives struggling with various psychological issues such as lack of self esteem and social interaction problems (Swenson 1998). Mental and psychological issues happen because of intense emotions that cause gender discontent (Swenson 1998). Many transgender individuals live a life of shame because of their gender (Swenson 1998). There are people who have accepted their gender and learnt to appreciate the way they are through counseling processes. The fact that gender discontent is an illusion driven by the admiration of the opposite has made it difficult for counselors to change the mind set of these individuals (Swenson 1998). Psychologists argue that transgender is a condition motivated by an individual’s environment (Bockting, Gail, and Joshua 2006). It is possible to change the meaning of the environment as a result, assist the transgender individual view and interpret his or her environment differently. Those who argue that counseling cannot help transgender individual claim that, by simply changing ones thoughts about the environment, their previous believes and notions will not change (Bockting, Gail and Joshua 2006). They argue that changing the environment will not necessarily change an individual’s attitude towards it. “The fact that one’s attitude affects largely one’s ability to conform to change, and it means that even after counseling the individual will remain as prior to counseling”(Bockting, Gail and Joshua 2006).
Another reason why despite the supportive nature of counseling sessions some do not help transgender people is because some counselors misunderstand these individuals. Such professionals abuse and manipulate transgendered individuals who are desperate to find a long lasting cure for their shortcoming (Swenson 1998). “They continue to assure clients that they have experience in handling these problems, yet they either lack the relevant counseling qualifications such as relevant training or do not have the experience to help transgendered people” (Swenson 1998). For this reason, appointments with professionals have yielded little results so far. Clients who pay a visit to these counselors soon realize that they are only losing their money with no help forthcoming.
There is another group of counselors under the guidance of religion who have contributed largely to counseling failing to provide the much-needed solutions to transgender people (Swenson 1998). This group promises to have the answers to the problem with the misguided belief that transgender issues are just like any other issue in the world. They employ mind controlling and sometimes abusive techniques such as claiming that the transgendered people have evil spirits in order to fulfill their religious calling (Swenson 1998). What this group fails to acknowledge is that even extremely qualified counselors with massive credentials find it difficult to help transgender people. The best techniques to use when counseling a transgender individual include encouragement and understanding. The two are likely to help the individual accept that he or she belongs to a certain gender. It is only after accepting his or her gender that an individual will stop feeling shame and appreciate him or herself. Where the counselor takes the client through an inspiration and encouraging process, the results are usually terrific (Swenson 1998).
The client choosing a right and qualified counselor can accept who he or she is. New counselors offer better services to their clients at a time achieving success within few days of counseling. This shows that for one to help a client effectively experience is not necessary. This is because problems faced by transgender people vary from one individual to another. The approach is what is essential. A good counselor should ought to assist the client in distinguishing between transgender and mental disorder that appears to be transgender, but is not. This should take approximately six months at most to determine whether the client suffers from transgender or a mental disorder (Bockting, Knudson, and Goldberg 2006). Having a professional who can do the above will help an individual correct a transgender illusion. The arguments above show that the success of counseling depends on several factors, among them approach, qualification of the counselor, and individual’s attitude.
Problems that the Transgendered People Face
Transgender people face several challenges because of their thoughts on sexuality. It is worse if the transgender individual is a person of color (Tardy 2007). This is because most of these communities believe their members are strong and should in no way be transgender (Tardy 2007). Another thing that makes it worse is the racial discrimination one has to deal with besides the transgender-based discrimination. According to Currah and Minter (2000), forty percent of the transgender African-American people claim that they face more discrimination than other transgender people. This is because apart from other discrimination issues that transgender people have to deal with, they have to face the discrimination of color and beliefs originating from stereotypes their own families and communities have. Two of the stereotypes are: transgender are gay African-Americans are strong and cannot be transgender. The two stereotypes make the society view transgendered people as weak and undeserving of their respect.
Religious Discrimination of Transgender People
Religious discrimination is a form of discrimination and transgender people ought to live with this. Some religions regard them as sinners challenging God’s work. This is challenging for these transgender people to engage in religious matters. This is because religious leaders rarely give such people the opportunity to present their ideologies in religious meetings. Of the entire world’s religions, only about 36% of the religious institutions allow transgendered people their rights to worship freely just like any other member of the community (Steinmetz 2011). Those already in churches and other religious positions live their lives constricted and deeply ashamed of their gender. Every person has the right to worship freely; religious leaders who refuse to grant transgender people the opportunity to be involved in religious activities deny them their lawful right (Currah and Minter 2000).
According to Tardy (2007), some people kill transgender people because of their condition. This is especially so in a place where there is a perception of transgender people as outcasts and an abomination before God and man, such as the Arab nations (Steinmetz 2011). Despite various governments across the world emphasizing on the need to respect the rights of this vulnerable group, criminal gangs continue to murder them (Tardy 2007). This serious social discrimination exceeds ordinary limits. Transgender individuals with no other place to live found themselves living in these cruel neighborhoods with the possibility of the transgender murderers killing them. This is exceedingly torturing to the mind and makes life difficult for the sexually discontent individuals. For those who have already undergone gender transformation, legal documents such as Identification Cards and Passports expose their previous identity (Tardy 2007). This is because they indicate their previous names and identity. In previous years, the hooligans out there to kill the transgendered have brutally murdered several transgender people after discovering they were originally not members of the gender they currently profess (Tardy 2007).
Social Cost of been Transgender
Transgendered individuals have a harder time landing a job than those who are none transgender. This is because most employers are yet to appreciate them (Walworth 2011). The fact that the society is yet to open up and accept them as equal members of the community has made impossible for the transgendered to get formal employment. In most places, people regard them as weaker human beings without the ability to contribute to any working environment (Walworth 2013). Less than fifty percent of transgendered people have education qualification of up to college level. This has made it even difficult for them to get good jobs. The reason why there are few well-educated transgender people is that parents decide not to educate their transgender children (Jost 2006). This is because such parents believe that such an individual is a blemish to the family name (Jost 2006).
Many transgendered are homeless as in some places property-owners do not rent houses to them (Tardy 2007). The fact that unusually few of them get well-paying jobs has made most of them poor (Tardy 2007). They cannot afford to live in good houses. This leaves them with no choice but to live in poor and harsh neighborhoods. The areas where they live are poverty ridden and with high levels of insecurity. The itching poverty has led a good number into crime and, as a result, there are several deaths reports (Tardy 2007).
Accessing medical care is another challenge for most transgender people. About twenty-eight percent say they have had to postpone medical care for fear of discrimination (Tardy 2007). There are areas where a transgender individual cannot receive any form of medical attention. In some places like Jamaica and Canada, more than two thirds of the transgendered face harsh treatment by both the society and medical care givers (Currah and Minter, 200). This has resulted in high death rates among this community (Heyer 2011). In areas such as Jamaica where transgender folks receive medical care, medical practitioners are harsh and unwelcoming. They will abuse them and use unfriendly treatments on them. This has raised the fear of going for the medical treatment, as they know too well and that this will only leave them hurting and most probably in the condition they were in prior to the doctor’s visit (Cotton 2012). According to Cotton (2012), it takes extraordinary courage for a transgender to go for a healthy check up even after a successful gender transformation. Many of them die in their homes because they lack the courage to go and seek medical services and money to buy drugs (Cotton 2012).
In some countries around the world, after converting from one gender to another the government does not give them legal documents that reflect their newly acquired gender status; most of these documents contain their previous information (Tardy 2007). This makes people scold them and abuse them every time they produce their legal documents. This has denied a sizeable number of transgender people many opportunities such as job chances (American Civil Liberties Union 2011). This is because the gender on the legal documents does not match with that of the individual at the time of looking for the opportunity a good example is an ID and a transcript that indicate the individual is a male at the time of searching for a job position when the person has changed to the female gender through medical surgery. This leads to disqualification based on fraud since the employer finds it hard to understand how a male or female has documents that show he or she belongs to the opposite gender. However, few transgendered people care to explain the reasons of the variation in their physical gender and the one in the legal documents.
In the relationships, transgender people face discrimination. This is because either they have a difficult time to get a lover or some are gay and prefer people of their gender (Kelly 2012). This places obstacles in their way of forming marriages because most religious leaders do not encourage such relationships. According to Kelley (2012), “in most countries the laws do not support gay relationships”. This has practically locked the doors to happy marriages of these types of couples. Transgender individuals who have gone through a gender transformation find it difficult to get a marriage partner (Kelly 2012). The thought that the partner one is about to marry had the same gender as them repulses potential lovers (Kelly 2012). Many transsexuals live lonely lives since the law, and the society do not approve of their marriages (Kelly 2012).
Family rejection of Transgender People
Family rejection is yet another challenge the transgender community has to encounter. Many families detach themselves from transgender people. This leaves them isolated and mentally traumatized (Tardy 2007). This has caused many of them live alone far away from their families. The reason why families discriminate these people is that they see them as an embarrassment to their families (Tardy 2007). Things are worse when the transgendered has a same-sex sexual orientation (Tardy 2007). The perception of homosexuals is that they are outcasts and in some societies their families disown them, and this leads to depression for the transgender people.
In conclusion, transgender is not a disease and people suffering from it can transform to normal thinking through counseling. Since the condition is just an illusion that is likely to pass with the right attitude and counseling the discrimination the society subjects transgendered people to is unnecessary. The best way to help transgendered people is to support them and see them as normal human beings.