I have done a lot of research recently on transgenderism as it’s a topic few people know very much about. I have found some amazing statistics that may help clarify transgenderism for some of you. Most people don’t know what a transgender is and think transgenders and transsexuals fall under the same category. This is true, but there are differences between the two.
A transgender is a person who has the desire to dress and pass in public as a member of the opposite sex. Most transgenders start taking hormones to help them look more like the opposite sex, but have no desire to have sexual reassignment surgery. Transvestites fall under this category somewhat but they, in most cases, prefer to not appear in public dressed as a member of the opposite sex.
Transsexuals, on the other hand, feel like they’re trapped in the wrong body. Transsexuals
are people who have sexual reassignment surgery to make them the person they feel they
Transgenderism is not new in today’s society and has in fact been around for a number of years.
There is some evidence that shows transgenderism existed as far back as 25,000 B.C. During this period of time some of the gods who were worshiped were believed to be transgendered because they could have been male or female. Most of the rulers of ancient Rome also appeared in public in female clothing although they were tortured, and some were even murdered, for doing so. Also, most of Shakespeare’s plays used men dressed as women to portray female characters because at that time it was unlawful for women to appear on stage. Some people had to dress and live as person of the opposite sex to survive in society.
For example, jazz musician Billy Tipton was born a female but dressed as a male because she felt she had to in order to succeed in as a musician. After her death in 1989 at the age of 74 a debate began on the issue of her desire to appear in society as man. Was it to work in a male dominated industry or was it because of lesbian oppression?
Bigotry can be described as abuse towards transgenderism. Christine Jorgensen was one of the first people to fight bigotry. George Jorgensen was an ex-GI and photographer who travelled to Denmark in the early 1950’s to become Christine Jorgensen. She died in 1989 and since then there has been numerous sex change operations done, some of them here in Canada. Our society seems to accept transgenderism more now than ever before. There have been new laws put in place to protect transgendered individuals with regard to sexual orientation.
The Human Rights Act of Canada protects transgendered individuals from being fired or dismissed from their job because it’s discrimination. A provision in the Act that protects all members of the GLBT community is: Each person has a right to equality with respect to services, goods and facilities without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, color, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or handicap.
Author’s Note: This was originally published in
The ARC Quarterly Summer 2002 Pride Issue
Transgenderism: A period in time