Monday, November 16, 2009

Transgender Awareness Week

Transgender Awareness week began yesterday and will culminate on November 20, the 11th International Transgender Day of Remembrance. This day was set aside to memorialize those killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice.

But just what is meant by transgender? There are many terms used to describe these individuals – some medically based such as intersex and some behaviorally based such as cross-dresser – and not all experts or transgendered individuals agree which ones apply. For the sake of our discussion, I will define a transgender person as a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender roles, but combines or moves between these.

In practical terms, a transgendered person lives their life as one gender despite the fact that their genes and genitalia say something different. This could be because of androgen insensitivity in which their bodies cannot process testosterone. It could be that their brain sex differs from their physical sex. Scientists are discovering that gender is far more than the XX and XY that we learned in high school biology. There are genes integral to the development of sexual characteristics. Any change in these hormones can result in gender ambiguity. These chromosomes can alter brain sex, or how the brain is hardwired to perceive its gender. Studies have shown that transgendered females (a person born male who perceives themselves as female) have structures in the hypothalamus of the brain essential for sexual behavior the same size as genetic females. In men, this region of the brain is much larger. This supports the transgendered person’s assertion that their brains are the opposite sex from the assigned gender; that despite the fact they were born female, they are actually male or vice versa.

Until these recent scientific studies, it was common societal belief that these people were choosing a lifestyle. It’s this perception that transgenders are deviants that leads to discrimination and in extreme cases physical attacks. Virtually every transgender person will face this in some form during his or her lifetime.

Since 1970, there have been 444 documented murders of transgendered individuals internationally. These numbers are no doubt lower than they should be since many times these murders go unidentified as bias crimes. In the US alone, 10 people have been murdered for being trans this year. Last year, that number was 18.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance strives to keep these individual’s memory alive.

On this November 20th, I ask that you join me in remembering these people who died because someone couldn’t accept them for who they were.

For more information, please visit:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

1 comment:

♥georgie♥ said...

I will stand with you and remember those lost on Nov 20th!