Powered by Women First Digital

A Story About Being Trans

A Story About Being Trans

The first time I heard my name, I was no longer a baby, but felt like I was just being born.
I opened the folder with the group’s list and took a pen out to write down the class attendance. It was the first day of school; I did not know them, and they didn’t know me, yet.

– “I will go through the list, I will say your last names out loud, and I will ask you to tell me what you would like me to call you and what feels comfortable for you.”

I looked for reactions and a few heads nodded, so I started.

– “Garcia Torres—” I stopped on the last names hoping to hear a first name as a response and not just the usual, “here!”, then he replied.
– “Ivan, please.”
I looked back at the paper, next to the last name García Torres, there was his name, Ivan, so I continued.
– “Rosales Duran.”
– Angela—a girl with long lilac locks—answered me.
– “OK, Angela; you seem familiar to me, have I seen you at school before?”
– “Yes, I was studying for another career, but this semester I switched to this one.”
– “That’s great, welcome.”
– “Thank you.”
I added a dot next to Angela’s name to indicate that she was present, and I moved on to the next name.
– “Hernández Muñoz.”
– “Roberto ‘profe’, here I am again.”
– “Roberto, again?”
– “Don’t think I’m taking this subject again because I’m lazy, I’m just majoring in it.” Then he smiled trying to minimize the evidence that he had failed the previous course. I thought I had gotten rid of his jokes, but no, it was going to be another semester quoting chicken jokes. I smiled back at him and continued.
– “López Fernández.” No one answered. I repeated it again and was about to mark the person is absent when someone answered.
– “Salvador.”
A high-pitched and timid voice, barely audible, crossed the classroom from the back, in the last row next to a window through which they let their gaze escape and surely many thoughts too, and from which they would gradually move during the following months to get to those spots closer to the front. They said the name that was the one by which Salvador asked to be named behind small, sharp glasses, like their face; their hands were gradually getting red and sweaty. I looked at the list, next to their last name it said Sara.
– “Salvador it is,” I said as calmly as I could; I didn’t want it to sound like a question.
– “Yes, Professor.”
– “Thank you for making it clear. If I make any mistakes during these next few days, I ask you to correct me as many times as necessary.”
– “OK, thank you.”

What does it mean to be transgender?

Who I am is a matter of feelings, sensations and thoughts; it’s internal, it’s accurate.

If you’re going to ask me “who are you?”, be ready to believe me.

What or who do you belong to? Have you ever wondered?

Maybe, you belong to your family because you have the same eye color and smile and because you are a living portrait of your grandma. Or maybe you belong because you are the only person who does not look like everyone else and that makes you get teased during breakfast with jokes about the milkman.

Your family is that group of imperfect people who drive you out of your mind more than once a day and for whom you would endure a long list of inconveniences, sometimes without knowing why, but also, to whom you look to when something is not going well. They have seen you at your best and also at your worst; but, is belonging to that family a matter of coincidence of having the same last names on a piece of paper? Feeling like you belong to your family is something that goes beyond what biology and birth certificates can explain.

In fact, you can also belong to your hobbies and passions – those activities that you practice on the outside, but in fact take you inwards. Some activities you can start to do one day and you then find that you can’t stop because they make your heart race, and you can go for hours not noticing how tired your body is.

You know it’s enough, but the pleasure keeps you from paying attention to anything else during that time, so you keep going a little more whether it’s dancing, singing, reading, cooking, writing, drawing, or training, whatever version of you that you enjoy being the most.
For some people, you don’t have a passion, you are your passion, and that feeling is indescribable!

Now, why talk about belonging?

It is not always easy to define or describe oneself; there are not enough terms in language or science to do so because belonging can only be felt. You just know that you belong. The question is, if we are not required to prove that we are part of a social group, then why do we have to prove that we belong to a gender; furthermore, why would we have to prove it with a penis or a vulva?

If you read the previous sentences and thought, “yes, that’s how I’ve felt when being part of something; that’s how I fit in”, well, that’s just how you belong to a gender. It’s not something that you can explain in words – why you’re a woman or why you’re a man. You just know that you are and coinciding with the sexual organ that is commonly related to that gender is a matter of majorities or minorities, but not of totality.

Biology in gender

The biology texts used to teach us are limited and superfluous: you are born, you grow up, you reproduce, you grow old, and you die.

The romantic version is full of fantasy and even creates painful expectations: you are born, you grow up, you find the one person meant for you, you fall in love, you marry, you reproduce, you grow old holding your loved one’s hand, and you both die.

Sociology in gender

Sociology is even more descriptive: you are born;, they look at the pelvic sexual organ in your body; they assign you one of the two most common sexes (although not the only ones); you are named a man or a woman; you grow up in an upbringing that imposes a gender expression that you must reproduce (remember, only because of the sexual organ that your body has); and you are required to be male or female (and you don’t even question it). If everything goes according to social expectations, you fall in love and acquire a legal contract called marriage (or not, if you are part of a new generation); you reproduce (or not, if you are part of a new generation); you grow old, maybe as a couple or after a grueling divorce, and then you die.

But … these patterns are not for everyone; sometimes, when you are born, they look at the pelvic sexual organ in your body and assign you one of the two most common sexes (although these are not the only ones). You are then named a man or a woman, and at some point in your life, you start questioning your gender because you do not feel like it fits, but you don’t know exactly what is going on. Your upbringing imposes a gender expression on you that you must reproduce (remember, only because of the sexual organ that your body has), you are required to be male or female, and you suffer, because you don’t fit into what has been imposed on you, you don’t understand it, and you belong to a different group. And there’s not much support when it comes to letting the world know how you feel, a world that in the face of your attempts is already abusing you, so you better shut up.

Not feeling what they decided, but being trans

Something inside you, something very real and very authentic, tells you that you belong to a different group than what you’ve been told you should be, and sometimes you fall in love with someone you should not and they break your heart. If it is a requited love, there is a high chance that it will be a secret because the law does not allow you to be who you know you are, so you better comply with the social discourse, or they might try to murder you.

Your family is ashamed, your friends start pulling away from you, reproducing is no longer an option, and if perhaps you are part of the percentage of trans people whose story is different from the lines in this paragraph, then the statistics say that you will have a very difficult time in life anyways because over and above the typical day-to-day discrimination that we all go through, you will also experience other types of violence at work, in sports, legally, and across all areas of your life, translating to a lower life expectancy than cisgender people of the same age.

Why? Because you don’t have the sexual organ that they say you should have and because people forget that belonging is natural, like belonging to a family, even if you don’t have their genes, to a nation, even if you weren’t born there, or to a passion, even if you are not the most talented. You exist in it, you know it, but they simply won’t accept it.

What Does Having Sex Mean?

“My 7-year-old little girl, sitting in the backseat behind me, asked me.
– “Mom, what does having sex mean?”

I almost drove out of the lane. “Where did you hear that, honey?”

– “On this little piece of paper that says, ‘sex: man or woman’ ”.

Your body has sexual organs, your whole body, not just the lower part of your trunk – your skin, your limbs, your tongue, your hair, everything that is related to the way you practice sexuality, feel and generate pleasure, express yourself, relate to others, reproduce, and perceive the world. Expression, pleasure, bonding, and reproduction are, among other things, activities that turn your organs into sexual organs.

A first stumbling block is that you are assigned to a category called sex, according to your sexual organs, but not all of them! Here’s the stumbling block, to determine your sex, only those organs in the lower area of your trunk are considered, inside and outside, and they are called internal and external pelvic sex organs. If these include, for example, a vulva, vagina, uterus, and ovaries, your assigned sex is female; on the other hand, if these include, for example, a scrotum, testicles and penis, your assigned sex is male. Both are sexes that prevail in our species, but these are not the only ones (let’s talk about that another time).

  • Life said: I will be the play.
  • Society said: I will be the scriptwriter.
  • Life produced many characters,
  • but society only wrote a script for two.
  • The play was presented, they acted, but not all the cast would fit in,
  • the audience knew more roles were required,
  • but the script only had roles for men and women. Even so, pretending that everything was fine, the audience clapped.

Then a huge, endless, and very heavy role that must be learned and reproduced enters the scene. It is called Gender, and all its pieces come with it: roles, expression, and stereotypes. They tell little people barely minutes after being born – these are the names that can be assigned to you, the colors that you can use, the careers or trades to which you can aspire, the clothes that you should wear, the feelings that you will be allowed to express (and also what you will not be allowed), the obligations and rights that will be granted to you, and the ones that will be restricted, all that and more, just because you have a penis or vulva.

So, throughout our lives, we become characters in a play called society in which the cast has a set image to uphold and must behave according to their pelvic sexual organ, which, by the way, will always be covered.

The social roles

Socially speaking, women are built along the feminine gender, and men along the masculine gender. Everything that is expected of each gender is a stereotype that should be met; so, women should be emotional, desire motherhood, fragile, domestic and dutiful, obedient and pink—in many shades of pink; meanwhile, what is expected of men is strength and brutality, to provide protection and block their emotions, and to be competitive, agile, rough and imposing. Everything outside the gender role will not be accepted; the person in question will be socially censored. When the person identifies themselves with the assigned gender, the person is considered cisgender.

For example, a person whose body has a vulva and uterus, the assigned sex will be ‘woman’, and this person will be raised and treated along the feminine gender perceiving themself as a woman, living and interpreting life as a woman, and looking at themself as a member of the group called women. This person is a cisgender woman.

A person whose body has a penis and testicles, the assigned sex will be ‘man’, and this person will be raised and treated along the masculine gender perceiving themself as a man, living and interpreting life as a man, and looking at themself as a member of the group called men. This person is a cisgender man.

The reality about gender

Does it always occur like this? No, and that’s fine too. Some people do not identify with the gender that society gave them when their sex was assigned.

If you are a person whose body has a vulva and uterus who perceives yourself as a man, lives and interprets life as a man and you consider yourself a member of the group called men, then you are a transgender man.

If you are a person whose body has a penis and testicles, who perceives yourself as a woman, lives and interprets life as a woman and you consider yourself a member of the group called women, then you are a transgender woman.

How nice it is to look at yourself in the mirror and FIND JUST THAT – yourself – in the reflection.

When a transgender person makes decisions regarding their circumstances—which is complex, painful, and frightening—they have many options to choose from. For example, they can modify absolutely nothing (but this is not very common as we mostly want our image and existence to be a reflection of who we are) or they can opt to change their clothing and haircut, get cosmetic touch-ups; receive medical orientation and start hormonal treatment so their body matches their minds and feelings; modify their legal documents to include accurate identity data, and undergo clinical and surgical procedures to remove or modify those organs that do not support their self-concept.

People surrounding a trans person commonly go through a grief period which is full of confusion and resistance. There are usually a variety of reactions; there will be those who support them and those who will always reject them. The first situation occurs out of love, the second, out of ignorance; it would be best if everything always happened from a place of education and with professional accompaniment.

What to take into account

Whether it’s easy to understand or not, it’s important to educate yourself which will help you respect and understand transgender people.

It is not a disease; it is not a disorder. Science has discovered little to date but enough to know that what ‘causes’ someone to be transgender is exactly the same as what ‘causes’ someone to be cisgender.

Trans people do not need to prove anything to you. A trans woman doesn’t owe you femininity, nor does a trans man owe you masculinity, just as cisgender people are free to be the women and men they choose to be.

Being a transgender person is not the result of confusion, trauma, or violent experiences; even when circumstances like these occur, they are not significant, nor determinant.
Trans people are not required to inform you that they are transgender.

Refer to a trans woman using the pronoun “she”, and stop thinking that because she had or has a penis she was a man; no, she never was a man, she is and always was a woman. In turn, refer to a trans man using the pronoun “he”, and stop thinking that because he had or has a vulva he was a woman; no, he never was a woman, he is and always was a man.

If a trans woman likes men, she is a heterosexual girl and if she likes women, she is a homosexual girl, and there are many other possibilities. In turn, if a trans man likes women, he is a heterosexual guy/boy and if he likes men, he is a homosexual guy, and there are many other possibilities.

A trans woman can enjoy the pleasure that her penis provides her, and that does not make her a man, it makes her a person who enjoys the organ that her body has. A trans man can enjoy the pleasure that his clitoris provides him, and that does not make him a woman, it makes him a person who enjoys the organ that his body has.

Trans women deserve professional and sensitized health care that meets their urological needs and also deserve to be treated as a woman by professionals. Trans men deserve professional and sensitized health care that meets their gynecological needs and also deserve to be treated as a man by professionals. The same applies to all health-care services, or any other services they receive.

A trans woman can get a person with a uterus pregnant if they have sex without using methods to prevent pregnancy.

A trans man can get pregnant from a person with a penis if they have sex without using methods to prevent pregnancy.

Both trans men and women deserve to receive a sexual education to fully embrace their pleasure, practice safe and protected sex, avoid sexually transmitted infections, plan reproduction, and access their sexual and reproductive rights.

Articles and products aimed at reproductive planning, sexual pleasure, and sexual protection need to be amended and renamed in order to include trans people; for example, the condom trans women put on their penis is not called a ‘male condom’ but an external condom, and the condom trans woman place in their vagina is not called a female condom but an internal condom.
Transgender people need cisgender people to support their rights (this also applies to agender, gender-fluid and bi-gender people, among others).

We all are human beings, that is the most important thing.

About the author: Leticia Arévalo Cervantes. Educational Sexology and Group Sensitization Workshop facilitator and lecturer on sexual education topics and didactic coordinator at Imesex.

Note: For more blogs related to sexual health you can visit our blog.

Do you have something to share? Leave your comments below, contact us on our social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, send us an email to info@findmymethod.org. For more information on contraception, visit findmymethod.org.