Trans Identity & Gender Dysphoria, By Kayla Howard, Spelman College

Often times, our limited perception of the world hinders our willingness to understand other peoples’ experiences. Lack of understanding leads us away from unity. There are 7 billion different experiences of the world, so we will never completely understand the struggles of everyone. However, our ability to be open and empathetic will make these connections easier.

For trans people, their experiences commonly go misunderstood and thus silenced. Many of them go through much of their lives experiencing gender dysphoria. It is a condition that occurs when an individual’s biological sex does not align with their gender identity. It can cause their mental health to suffer tremendously. 41 percent of transgender people have reported attempting to commit suicide, compared to national average of 1.6 percent. There are many factors that can make it worse, such as financial status, family dynamics and community.

Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) can cost upwards of $100,000! Insurance deems this surgery cosmetic, and very few people have this type of money readily available. So, gender dysphoria for trans people living in poverty can be much more severe because their desired body will never be achieved. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, they are abandoned by their families after coming out. Because of the repercussions they may face, many trans people will not come out to their families for many years or their entire lives. This suppression of one’s gender identity for so many years creates a severe disconnection from one’s own body. Finally, in many communities, trans people can still be fired by their employer because of their gender identity. This could potentially put everything they have earned at risk and would make coming out seem like more of a hardship.

Discrimination, abuse and sexual violence is a reality for many trans people, however this does not have to be the case. We have the ability to change their experiences. Even if we do not carry out actions of transphobia ourselves, we must hold those accountable who do. Everyone’s experience is worth standing up for, even if it is not our own.

Have you or someone you know ever invalidated someone’s experience because you could not understand it?

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