Transgender refers to one’s sexual identity differing from the one assigned at birth, usually on the basis of anatomy.
Hence one can be born with the physical sexual characteristics of one gender, yet feel oneself to be more aligned with another gender.
Within that difference, some people come to feel uncomfortable with their life lived within the gender assigned at birth.
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We recognize the transgender people of the world, as well as those close to us in Toronto and Ontario.
Living as a Transgender Person
To feel more congruent, transgender individuals may choose to live a life more consistent with their felt gender. This is to feel more authentic as a person, living with how they see themselves. To live a life more consistent with their felt gender, they may alter their appearance through dress, hair and make-up. They may also seek to do so through surgery to have their anatomy reflect their felt gender.
Challenges can arise when one’s partner or former partner reveals themselves to be transgender or when one’s child does so. The issues include sharing the information, understanding and then acceptance and support. Those issues can differ depending on the parent, age of child and age of siblings. Those issues can also differ by virtue of one’s beliefs about gender. One’s faith may have the same impact.
Empathy and Understanding
It is important to appreciate that feelings of fear and shame and poor response by parents or family can lead to poor outcomes for the transgender person. Poor response by family primarily and society secondarily lead many transgendered persons to have issues of depression and anxiety. On top of the dysphoria, and not living an authentic life.
The issue of conveying information is relatively easy. “Although __ was born like this, they feel like that.” One can go on to explain that “Gender is actually on a continuum and while most people identify with their assigned gender, not all do and in the past, it wasn’t really spoken of, but now we understand these things and want people to feel good about themselves for who they truly are inside.”
Beyond the sharing of the information, it tends to be more the challenge of acceptance and support that transgender people face. It is important to recognize, that who ever the person is in relationship to you or the child, this is still the same person inside. The change is that they can feel better about themselves.
Being visible means they exist. They do. Let’s honor that.
Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW.
Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW is a Canadian Social Worker in private practice. He is recognized from his 65 episodes of the hit show Newlywed/Nearly Dead, to over 650 columns as the parenting expert of a major metropolitan newspaper, to more than 600 media appearances, to his book, Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout Canada and the US and helps family peacemakers grow their practice.