What is the first question people ask when a new baby is born? Is it a boy or girl? But what happens when that baby doesn’t fit nicely into the boy or girl package? Although it is impossible to know exactly how many people fall outside of the male or female “norms,” an estimated 1% – 5% of people identify as transgender. An even larger percentage of the population falls outside of stereotypical gender roles.
Many people believe that a person’s sex (or their genitalia) determines their gender. Although frequently a person’s sex and gender are the same, this is not always the case! Sometimes your body does not match your mind, and you often start to realize this at a very young age. Typically kids begin to identify as male or female between 2 and 4 years old. But sometimes a child who has a male body self-identifies as a girl, or a girl-bodied child feels more like a boy. Too often these children are told that they are wrong and they are forced to conform to society’s norms. Without support, these kids can have a very rough road ahead, often filled with depression, self-hatred, and thoughts of suicide.
For adults who grew up forced to hide their true identity, the processing of “coming out” can be very difficult and frightening. Many fear rejection from friends and family, as well as retaliation at work or school. Often this process can feel very lonely unless they are able to find a support system that understands what they are experiencing and encourages their decision to come out. If you are in the process of coming out or transitioning you may feel overwhelmed. Try to surround yourself with people who love and care about you. If you are already in the process of transitioning or have lived as your true gender for a while, it can still be difficult to be a member of a group so often discriminated against. Here are some possible places to find support:
- Understanding friends and family members
- Local support groups
- Online chat groups and forums
- Local non-profit organizations (see our resources page)
- PFLAG organization
- A counselor
For more information about the gender spectrum, please visit Gender Spectrum.org
If you identify as transgender, or don’t feel like you fit into your assigned gender and would like more information about counseling with us just email or call. Also check out Q-Center for some awesome support groups.