The Problems in The Lives of Transgender People Research Paper Sample

Formation of Transgender Identity


Transgenderism is a general term for people whose gender (social sex) and biological sex do not match. This category includes people who view themselves as belonging to the opposite sex – transsexuals, transvestites, androgynous, intersex, and bigenders. The problem of transgender is currently poorly studied and understood. There is not enough information about transgender people due to the specificity of the problem and the negative attitudes of society towards everything that is connected with the violation of sexual and gender-based norms of behavior. People perceive transgenderism as mental illness, perversion, something shameful and disgraceful. Because of this, transgender people have to hide their problems and lead a double life. Due to the closure, transgender problems are ignored by the state, and their freedoms and rights are violated. Transgender people face social difficulties in the context of transition or correction of gender. There are two sides of the problem in the lives of transgender people: the lack of social institutions that are involved in the decision of medical and social problems of transgender people; negative public attitudes, prejudice and discrimination against transgender people the society.

Queer Theory

According to Whittle, Turner and Al-Alami, “transgender is an unmbrella term, coined in the US, used to include people whose lifestyle appear to conflict with the gender norms of society” (6). The formation and development of transgender identity are presented in Queer theory, in which transgender and transsexual “is often claimed transgress” (Sullivan 99). It is a sociological theory about the nature of gender. The theory has proliferated in the late 20th century. Its supporters believe that gender and sexual orientation of an individual are not so much determined by biological sex, but by the socio cultural environment and conditions of personal education. Queer theory took shape in the 1990s in the United States on the basis of the works of the French philosopher Michel Foucault. According to the theory, the gander is not givenness, but a social construction to some extent.

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Queer theory focuses on the analysis of emergence of norms processes. The term ‘queer’ pays attention to the fragility of the boundaries of identity, and lets go of rigid categories of identity definitions. This term refers to concepts of ‘floating’ identity and compulsory heteronormativity. According to Pardo, gender identity “is our internal sense of being a man, woman, or anywhere along the gender continuum” (2). In the traditional, patriarchal society, all relationships between people are built based on the heterosexual matrix as the only correct, normative model of the relationship. People from birth are defined as heterosexual, but some eventually realize some discrepancy between what she/he considered real sexual intentions. As a result, an individual cannot take it on the basis of the anatomical sex gender status and is experiencing an acute dissatisfaction. Queer theory considers heterosexuality as a political institution that is to legitimize certain forms of social, sexual relations and pathologize, marginalize others.

Sexuality continues to be a vital aspect of human life, which includes sex, gender identities and roles, orientation, pleasure, eroticism, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality depends on the interaction of biological, social, psychological, political, economic, cultural, legal, ethical, religious, historical, and spiritual factors. In this case, a necessary element of human gender identity (awareness of their psychosexual identity, that is, sexual identity) is sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is an organization of erotic and emotional attachments of personality regarding sex and gender of the sexual partners.

The basis of trasgenderism is violations of differentiation of the brain structures that are responsible for sexual behavior, which is the beginning of the so-called biological sex center that is answerable for the formation of a sense of sex (sexual auto identification). The formation of sexual desire corresponds to sexual identity. Women with male auto identification are characterized by sexual identity that is directed to women, while men with women auto identification are directed to men, which perceived as homosexual attraction, but, in fact, this is not.
Name is the core of human authentication. In the case of transgender, one of the early signs of divergence of identity and identification of a child on the basis of the gender is its desire to be called by a name that is referred to the opposite sex. A significant role in identifying oneself with the representatives of opposite sex is played by clothing and other attributes of appearance. Many transgender people are indifferent to the clothes and accessories of the opposite sex since childhood. For transgender people, wearing inappropriate self-awareness clothes represents particular problem. In addition to clothing, transgender are different from ‘normal’ children because they select fun and games, which are traditionally ascribed to the opposite sex.

Problem of Transition

Transgender people face serious problems both in terms of the approval of their transgender identity and in terms of correction: harmonization of their biological and psychological sex (gender). The process of transgender identity formation results in the desire for sex reassignment as the only way to reach the desired gender. The next stage in life is transgender transition from one gender to another. “Transition commonly refers to the often lengthy period during which a person moves socially and physically from one gender to another” (Pardo 2).
The problem of transition has many aspects: from status disclosure (coming out), the actual sex reassignment, changing documents and approval in the social environment in a new way. This process takes a long period of time, when a person lives between male and female, or permanently moves from one state to another. At the same time, a man faces many difficulties in medical, legal, social and psychological terms.

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Firstly, there is practically no possibility of obtaining professional medical advice, especially in hormone therapy. For transgender people, the problem deals with the access to conventional health care. The lack of trained professionals, who are familiar with the medical needs of transgender people, or just existing prejudices make them particularly vulnerable to the negative and sometimes hostile reactions. If a transgender person decides to take hormones to obtain a permit for the surgery and begins to acquire the external features of the desired gender, this, in turn, leads to a number of problems with the identification of a person: in a bank or post office, at the border crossing. The requirement for surgery as a prerequisite to the legal recognition of gender identity does not account for the fact that people do not always want to be subjected to such operations. It is not always possible from a medical point of view and is not always available from the financial side. There are other obstacles in the daily lives of transgender people. One of the biggest problems for transgender is harassment and discrimination at work and in public places. Public opinion is not on the side of transgender people because there are negative stereotypes that reach transphobia due to the lack of information in society.

Medical Aspects

In the medical aspect, the transition to the desired gender is extremely complex and fraught with risk due to a long-term hormone therapy and surgery. Treatment is preceded by a long phase of data collection on health, psychiatric and psychological examinations. In total, the preparatory stage can take many years. In addition, significant financial costs of operations and treatment make a desired transition for many people something very distant in time perspective.

Transgender people’s health problems are of particular importance because they are associated with psychiatric diagnosis, hormone therapy and surgery. Even treatment for routine medical care is often problematic due to the specific status of transgender identity. Among the medical problems, the lack of consultation on transgender issues in sexologists and endocrinologists is in the first place. Not having received the necessary consultations and appointments, transgender people start taking hormones independently. The choice of drugs and dosages are selected by trial and error, with the submission of friends and information from the Internet.

An increasing number of children is being treated by inhibitors of puberty (puberty blocking drug) to stop undesirable development of male and female sexual characteristics. Treatment is fairly new and faces a lot of controversies. Its critics argue that blocking puberty is tantamount to sexual violence, and that children should be given psychological support that they have agreed to continue to remain in those bodies, in which they were born. However, parents of children, who suffer from gender identity disorder in the acute form, as well as their doctors believe that puberty in the ‘wrong body’ causes the biggest trauma. This process can cause depression and even suicide. Office of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially approved inhibitors of puberty.

This treatment is not irreversible. For decades, it has been used for the treatment of children, who suffered from early puberty. Children, who suffer from gender dysphoria, which is also called gender identity disorder, can begin treatment at any age from 9 to 17 years. It is believed that these drugs give children time to finally understand whether they want to live in the opposite sex. Then, teenagers can start taking hormones to force their body physically develop in the right direction. Doctors began to use inhibitors in the treatment of puberty since the late 90-ies of 20th century. Holland was the first country that used such therapy.

However, the problem consists in the fact that some transgender children buy illegal drugs online and engage in self-treatment, which often leads to tragic consequences. Furthermore, no doctor prescribes hormonal inhibitors, without conducting preliminary psychological evaluation, a thorough physical examination and before a patient will pass a course of psychological help.
People, who are critically related to this treatment, consider that a growing number of transgender children is explained by liberal parents, who allow their children to go too far, whereas in fact they are the offspring of simply trying to expand the scope of permissible public sexual identity. In fact, the main culprit for the growth of transgender children is considered to be the Internet.

Surgical operation, which many transgender people consider as the release, in fact, solves some problems but consequently, generates a lot of others. These are, firstly, the problems associated with health, quality of operations, and post surgery complications.

Legal Aspects

Resolving health problems does not complete the transition process to the desired end, but also brings the legal aspects to the fore, which are primarily related to the documents change. Legal recognition of the gender is the process of changing the name and gender marker in official documents and records in order to recognize gender identity. States may establish various requirements, but the statement of psychiatric diagnosis or age restrictions are mandatory.
No state in Europe has procedures for the legal recognition of gender, which would correspond to standards of human rights. As a result, transgender people cannot legally change documents and have a decent life. Moreover, forced sterilization is required for the recognition of gender in many European countries. This clearly violates the right to physical integrity, the right not to be subjected to torture and the right to have a family. Not all transgender people can or want to undergo such medical intervention. There is also requirement of forced divorce. This is an ordeal for transgender people and their families, as their partner and children lose the rights that were given in marriage. The divorce process brings emotional damages and financial burden for loving couples.

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Psychiatric diagnosis is required in all procedures recognition of gender in Europe. This means that transgender people are considered sick. This leads to stigmatization and social exclusion. Age restrictions do not allow young transgender people to pass a procedure of legal recognition of gender. Procedures are available only from the age of majority. This prevents social integration, for example, in school, and damages in personal development at a critical age. Medical requirements may also lead to the unavailability of legal gender recognition for young and old (over 65 years) transgender people.

However, some countries provided laws and rules that help transgender people in their wishes to change gender identity. In 2012, Argentina passed the law about gender identity that respects principles of human rights. This procedure is fast, accessible and transparent. Argentine model, which represents a simple administrative procedure, is the best example of transgender legislation. It has no requirements of a divorce or consent of a wife/husband, sterility requirements or medical diagnosis and available for humans in the age of 18.
The usual things such as getting a parcel, opening a bank account or just the use of personalized tickets for transport could be daily source of difficulties, if a civilian sex that is indicated in the documents is different from one’s gender identity. As transgender people are often suspected of using other people’s documents, they have to disclose their transgender against their will. This violates their right to privacy and consistently leads to discrimination and violence. As a result, many transgender people are excluded from society and the labor market. Moreover, transgender people may not dare to coming out, which leads to anxiety, depression or suicide. Availability of documents on education and work, which reflects the gender, is a common cause of the unemployment among transgender people. Fast, accessible and transparent procedure of legal recognition of gender prevents discrimination, protects privacy and dignity.

Social and Psychological Problems

From a psychological point of view, the problem of transgender deals with the fact that they do not like themselves in a way, in which a society wants to see them. A society does not accept them in a way, in which transgender like themselves. The phenomenon of transgender affects primarily identity because of differences in the perception of self and belonging to a certain congenital sex. Usually, an awareness of the gender identity occurs at the same time, when a child’s self-identity is formed. This self identity is immediately gender-typed, and a child knows exactly who it is: a boy or a girl. In the case of transgender, children start to feel that something is wrong with their preferences and the way it should be. Social markers of sex are clothes, games, and typical actions. Often, transgender children show inclinations and interests that are unusual for representatives of their gender. They like the ‘wrong’ toys, clothes, and friends. In the company of children of the same sex, transgender feel uncomfortable; they are often rejected and chased away. When it comes to the realization that something is not right, a child hopes that things will get better by itself. Children believe that a miracle will happen. However, time passes and nothing changes. Because of this, many children become closed, and stop communicating. Self-isolation is reinforced by the fact that transgender children have no one to ask for help and support. Parents either do not notice or do not attach importance to the fact that their child is not like the others. Sometimes parents ignore the problems of their child, even when they are outside the scope of a family.

The reaction of parents to their child’s decision of transgender sex reassignment is largely negative (at least initially), and varies from ridicule, condemnation to rejection and attempts to keep from taking this step. In some cases, it is easier to accept that their child is mentally ill than transgender. In connection with the transition to the desired gender, transgender faces problems with the perception by an immediate environment. It is especially difficult for parents, who have had a son, and now they have to refer to him as a daughter. Intimate partners have even more difficulties because it is not under force to accept spouse’s conversion to a representative of the same sex.

Life in a state of duality or stealth leads to mental stress and the development of various forms of mental disorders. The most common reactions among transgender include depression and nervous breakdowns. There are also suicidal thoughts and attempts (Coleman et al. 168). It should be noted that the greatest risk of suicide is observed in adolescence and early adulthood, usually in the background of unrequited love or conflict with parents. Later, when transgender has to find its own niche and learn to live, balancing between the two genders, other problems come to forefront. They include the problem of disclosure (coming out), the problem of transition and the actual sex reassignment.

Stigma and Discrimination of Transgender People

In addition to the objective problems that accompany the transition of transgender people, they are constantly faced with a negative attitude in a society. Public opinion endows this group with ugly, unnatural traits, and qualifies it as abnormal. Social stereotypes of male/female behavior are seen very early. Already in kindergarten, transgender people face the division into boys and girls. Attempts to cross this border are encountered by disapproval, ridicule, and even violence. Bringing to the accepted norms of a child, who does not fit into the usual framework, is produced by all social institutions, starting with a family, kindergarten, school and ending by informal relations. Parents try to instill ‘right’ behavior in different ways: by persuasion, threats, including physical violence. Most frequently, the position of parents is dictated by public opinion. They are afraid of what people will say, and actively try to prevent change of a child.

Having faced social disapproval in early childhood, transgender children ceased to be visible for some time. However, during puberty, gender problem is re-emerging on the agenda. If at the preschool age, transgender are limited to disguise and games, sexual identity is formed and is in the midst of sexual orientation in adolescence. Because they tend to like representatives of their biological sex, they are often mistaken for a gay or lesbian. At this time, transgender are desperately trying to understand themselves, their preferences and inclinations. Many transgender people decide whether to follow their feelings, whether to agree to forced gender role or to find a compromise and be gay/lesbian. Some try their hand at a homosexual relationship, others are trying to build the ‘right’ relationship and even get married. As a rule, it does not work, because originally their otherness is not based on sexual attraction to the same sex, but on the discrepancy between psychological and biological sex. When transgender finally realizes who he/she is, there is a need to adapt and learn to express themselves so as not to cross the brink of what is permitted and not to be rejected by society.

Whittle, Turner and Al-Alami stated that workplace, healthcare, leisure and education were the sectors of life, which were mostly characterized by discrimination and inequality (15). The most numerous cases of discrimination against transgender people are met at work. Discrimination in the workplace is usually associated with employment. Difficulties arise even at the stage of job search mainly because of the mismatch of appearance and passport data. Many transgender people are denied after employers become aware of their status. Some transgender representatives arrange to work informally without registration of the labor agreement to avoid such situations. In addition, employers often use the vulnerable position of transgender people and infringe them in payment, regime of work, etc. Discrimination and violation of human rights in the medical field are manifested in the form of denial of medical care, negligence, accusing behavior, and moral pressure.

Needs of Transgender People

One of the problems that are constantly faced by transgender is the lack of information. That is why many of them live a long time in the dark and do not understand what is happening to them. The most basic requirement of transgender is the availability of information and advice on transgender issues, which would allow them to understand who they are and what they should do with the problem. The situation has changed dramatically with the advent of the Internet, which has replaced the majority of transgender expert, provided access to health and legal information, and allowed to find a new circle of friends.

No less urgent need for transgender is a need for a tolerant attitude of society and the recognition of their right to be what they perceive themselves. Its resolution requires active action by the state with the active support by transgender people. Unlike other discriminated groups, transgender people are not active, and they refuse to participate in public events. They have no defenders among relatives or sympathizers. Low activity, reluctance to speak to the media and to participate in actions in order to defend their rights explain intolerant attitude of society towards this group and transgender desire to forget a bad experience due to the change of sex.


During puberty, the problem of gender identity is re-emerging on the agenda. If the pre-school age of transgender is limited to disguise games, adolescence is characterized by formation of sexual identity. Manifesting itself not as society expects, transgender people often encounter misunderstanding, rejection and even aggression on the part of family members, peers, teachers and caregivers, as well as their intimate partners. The desire to meet the expectations of others pushes transgender to attempts to conform to gender stereotypes, but the inner resistance does not allow them to achieve harmony. Therefore, transgender people often suffer from low self-esteem, negative self-attitude, lack of confidence in their gender identity, and even rejection of themselves.

A decision on gender change is accompanied by lack of information on procedures and services for transgender people, the lack of health centers and clinics, and other legal difficulties. At the same time, sex reassignment surgery is considered the only alternative among transgender people and professionals. In addition, there is a negative public opinion. Numerous cases of stigma and discrimination are the result of rejection to accept transgender. Stigma and discrimination against transgender affect all spheres of life; it is manifested by family members, friends, colleagues, bosses, health care providers, governments and just strangers. These phenomena begin with early childhood and accompany transgender throughout the life.
Taking into consideration all the difficulties that transgender people face in their lives, there is a need to address this problem at the state level. It is important to create medical and psychological services, medical centers, especially in the regions. Moreover, it is necessary to develop a new algorithm for changing the documents, monitoring of human rights violations, as well as raising awareness of this problem, and changing public opinion about transgender people. Government support for the implementation of the accelerated and transparent procedures for changing the name and sex of transgender people are required to solve these problems. It is necessary to create medical and psychological services, medical centers, and create the training of medical specialists.

In parallel, it is necessary to work on changing public consciousness, overcoming transphobia and the elimination of discrimination of transgender people. It is significant to promote approaches that are based on human rights, education and information campaigns that promote the growth of mutual understanding and respect for people. Changing the view of society on gender dichotomy, a broad interpretation of gender, which allows selecting more than two types of gender, mitigation of gender stereotypes that force seeking surgical help will help transgender people approve their multiple identities, live in a desired manner and not be subjected to stigma and discrimination.

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