I think I might be Transgender!

First of all, don’t panic!

Some young men and young women feel they were born into the wrong body. It can seem like the end of the world. Well, good news…it’s not. You can live a happy and fulfilled life.

What does it mean to transgender?

The definition of transgender keeps changing over time. What we are going to talk about here are people born in a boy’s body who are sure they are girls and people born into a girl’s body who are sure they are boys.

You might have known you were born into the wrong body for as long as you can remember. Maybe you’re just realizing that now. Either way, it is important for you to know you are not alone.

Gender and sex are not the same thing. Sex is between your legs, gender is between your ears. So, this can get very confusing very quickly. You may be really a girl, but born into a boy’s body and like boys. This means you might look gay to the rest of the world when actually you are heterosexual. Don’t get hung up on labels, just be as true to yourself as you can be.

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How do I know if I’m transgender?

This is one of the hard questions. Some people know from as far back as they can remember. Some people ‘grow into it.’ Part of the process of transitioning (changing from your gender assigned at birth to your true gender) involves seeing a therapist. So, if you are confused about all of this, find a therapist familiar with the transgender community and who is familiar with the Benjamin Standard. S/he can help you sort it all out.

The important thing is, you are definitely not alone. Transgender people are in every walk of life. Today, we are scientists, artists, lawyers, teachers, doctors, mechanics, fast food workers, store clerks and engineers. We are Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Jewish, Catholic, Baptist, rich, poor, and well…you get the picture! We are everywhere you look.  A recent study estimates that there are about 700,000 transgender people in the U.S.

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Am I normal?

Yes, you are normal. Transgender people have existed in all cultures across time. Other, older cultures had mechanisms that allowed their transgender people to fit into the life of their society.

Because of prejudice, many people push away these feelings. But, it’s normal and healthy to be yourself, whether you’re transgender or not. What’s really important is that we learn to like ourselves.

What is it like to be young and transgender?

This can be really scary. Depending on where you live, there may be support groups in your area for GLBT youth. There may be adult transgender organizations that are set up to support youth. If such groups are not available to you, the internet may well be your only connection to other people like yourself. Please remember the internet safety rules so that you don’t become a victim of violence or abuse.

Because of prejudice, some people don’t accept transgender people. Transgender people suffer from discrimination and violence. People tend to hate or fear what they don’t understand, and many people don’t understand being transgender. That’s why so many organizations are working for transgender rights.

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Who should I tell?

Coming out is the process of accepting yourself as a trans person and figuring out how open you want to be about your gender identity with other people.

While it can be important for other people to know about us, it is more important that we use good judgment about telling. Some friends may tell other people without your permission. Family members can be the most difficult people to tell. Even though some families are very supportive, some trans youth have been kicked out of their homes when their parents found out. Only you can decide whether or not to tell your family and choose the right time.

It’s important to have someone with whom to talk. Maybe there’s a guidance counselor at your school, or in a local youth or counseling agency, that you can trust. It’s important to have someone to talk to because it’s not healthy for young people to have to keep secret such an important part of their self.

What about sex?

Young people wonder, will I ever have sex? Of course you will, but don’t rush into it! IT is never easy to hear that we should ‘take things slowly.’ Or ‘wait until we are older.’ However, when it comes to sex, these ideas can apply.

It is completely normal for you to think about finding an outlet for your sexual feelings. During our teen years we are frequently preoccupied with sexual thoughts and fantasies. The notion of actually having sex with another person may scare you. That’s okay. It’s the same for a lot of us, especially the first time.

Most importantly, you should only decide to have sex when you feel ready. You’ll know when it’s time for you. Never let yourself be pressured into it. If s/he cares enough about you to share themselves sexually, s/he should care enough to wait until you are ready.

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What about AIDS?

Here things can get complicated. The information we are going to share here is based on you genitals, not your gender identity.

All of us should know about HIV, the virus that causes AIDS – how it’s transmitted and how we can prevent ourselves from becoming infected. You and your partner should iscuss your risk factors for HIV infection and decide what, if any, safer sex methods you should use.

People at risk are those who:

  • Share needles if using IV drugs
  • Have vaginal intercourse with men without using condoms
  • Have anal sex with men without using condoms
  • Have oral sex with an infected woman without the use of a barrier to protect against infected vaginal secretions or menstrual blood

To help reduce the risk of contracting HIV:

  • Consider abstinence
  • Do not share needles
  • Choose sexual activities that do not involve intercourse. Maybe try hugging, kissing, talking, massaging or masturbation on unbroken skin.
  • Avoid anal or vaginal intercourse (placing the penis inside someone’s rectum or vagina). If you do engage in intercourse, use a new LATEX condom every time. Condoms made of natural materials (lamb skin, etc.) break down and allow the virus through.
  • Use surgical gloves for manual (vagina and fingers) sex, especially if you have cuts or a rash on your hands.
  • Use a new latex condom every time you engage in oral sex.
  • Use a dental dam for oral/vaginal or oral/anal sex.
  • Use LATEX condoms with ‘reservoir tips.’ Be sure to squeeze the air out from the tip as you put it on. Keep it on throughout the entire sex act. Hold onto the condom as you remove the penis; it can slip off after sex.
  • If you use lubricants, make sure they are water based. Petroleum-based lubricants, like Vaseline, weaken all condoms.

Sex is a serious topic. It’s one to consider with maturity and armed with knowledge.

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How can I meet other GLBT youth?

 

Most big cities, even some smaller ones, have programs like HATCH. Google "LGBT youth" or "GLBT youth" and the name of your city and see what pops up.

Maybe your high school or college campus has a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or support group. You might have to ask a teacher or student you really trust to get more information on this. If there isn't one, consider starting one! GLSEN has lots of GSA resources on their website.

Look for a GLBT newspaper or magazine in your area to see what youth organizations and events you can attend. You'll most likely find these in coffee shops, bookstores, restaurants and other businesses in or near the "gay part of town," though every city has a pre-dominantly GLBT neighborhood.

Be careful when trying to connect online. Not everyone is who they say they are. If you decide to meet up with someone you met online, meet in a public place where there are plenty of other poeple. NEVER agree to meet someone at their home or in an unfamiliar place. If you are minor (under 18), NEVER trust an adult stranger who chats with you privately or wants to meet you. What they are doing may be illegal, and it is dangerous to you!

 

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The Montrose Center