Overtime,
the issue of transgender has become a #1 trending on our social media and even
a general topic for discussion in social gatherings. You hear questions like:
‘Why will she change her sex?’ ‘Why is he not satisfied with being a male?’
‘Why will he cut off his genitals?’ ‘Are they saying God’s work isn’t perfect?’
‘What is your take on being a transgender?’
These
questions have caused confusion and disharmony between families, circle of
friends and with neighbours. A whole lot of people have tried to pin the root
of this ‘phenomenon’ but they have never reached a point of agreement.
You
may want to ask yourself what transgender means. Transgender or trans is an umbrella for people whose gender identity or
orientation is different from the sex assigned to them at birth.
Transgender
people come from all walks of life. The transgender community is incredibly
diverse. Some of these people identify as male or female, and some identify as
genderqueer, nonbinary, agender, or somewhere else on or outside of the
spectrum of what we understand gender to be.
Grandqueer
refers to a person who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions
but identifies with neither both, or a combination of male and female gender.
Nonbinary
refers to any gender that is not exclusively male or female. Those with
nonbinary genders can feel that they have an androgynous (both masculine and
feminine) gender identity, have an identity between male and female, or have a
neutral or non-existent gender identity. They believe they are neither male nor
female.
Agender
do not conform or identify to any gender (literally without any gender). They
identify as having no gender.
You
may also describe a transgender as a person whose gender identity, geneder
expression or behaviour does not conform to that typically associated with the
sex to which they were assigned to at birth.
Gender
identity refers to a person’s internal sense of being male, female or something
else; gender expression refers to the way a person communicates gender identity
to others through behaviour, clothing, hairstyles, voice or body
characteristics.
It
is however important at this point to draw a line between gender identity and
sexual orientation. Sexual orientation refers to an individual enduring
physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to another person; it is who we
are attracted to in a sexual and/or romantic way whereas gender identity refers
to one’s internal sense of being male, female or something else.
Transgender
people may be straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or asexual, just as
non-transgender people can be. Some recent research has shown that a change or
a new exploration period in partner attraction may occur during the process of
transition. However, recent research have shown that transgender people remain
attached to loved ones after transition as they were before transition.
The
way transgender people are being talked about in popular culture, academia and
science are constantly changing, particularly as individuals’ awareness,
knowledge and openness about transgender people and their experiences grow.
This begs the question…
WHY DO PEOPLE WANT TO BECOME
TRANSGENDER?
There
is no single explanation for why some people are transgender. There are many
theories, but no one knows exactly what makes someone transgender. The
diversity of transgender expression and experiences argues against any simple
or unitary explanation. Many experts believe that biological factors such as
genetic influences and prenatal hormone levels, early experiences, and
experiences later in adolescence or adulthood may all contribute to the
development of transgender identities.
TRANSGENDER AWARENESS
Transgender
people experience their identity in a variety of ways and may become aware of
their transgender identity at any age. Some can trace their transgender
identities and feelings back to earliest memories. They may have vague feelings
of ‘not fitting in’ with people of their assigned sex or specific wishes to
something other than their assigned sex. Sometimes, a young boy may want to
wear dresses and have tea parties, yet it is nothing more than a phase that
eventually subsides. Other times, however, there is a longing to identify with
another gender or no gender at all that becomes so intense that the person
experiencing it cannot function optimally.
Others
may become aware of their transgender identities or begin to explore and
experience gender-nonconforming attitudes and behaviours during adolescence or
much later in life. Some embrace some transgender feelings, while others
struggle with feelings of shame and confusion. Those who transition later in
life may have struggled to fit in adequately as their assigned sex only to face
later dissatisfaction later in the course of living. Some transgender people,
transsexuals in particular, experience intense dissatisfaction with their sex
assigned at birth, physical sex characteristics, or the gender role associated
with that sex. These individuals often seek gender-affirming treatments.
TRANSITIONING
Transitioning
is the process of changing from one gender to another. People who transition
often start by expressing their preferred gender in situations where they feel
safe. They typically work up to living full time as members of their preferred
gender by making many changes a little at a time. While there is no ‘right’ way
to transition genders, there are some common social changes transgender people
may experience that may involve one or more of the following: adopting the
appearance of the desired sex through changes in clothing and grooming,
adopting a new name, changing sex designation on identity documents (if
possible), using hormones therapy treatment, and/or undergoing medical
procedures that modify their body to conform with their gender identity.
Transition
must begin with a personal decision to transition, prompted by the feeling that
one’s gender identity does not match the gender that one was assigned at birth.
One of the most significant parts of transitioning for many transgender people
is coming out for the first time. Transitioning is a process, not an event,
that takes anywhere between several months and several years. Some people
especially grandqueer may spend their whole life transitioning as they redefine
and re-interpret their gender as time passes. Transitioning generally begins
where the person feels comfortable: for some, this begins with their family
with whom they are intimate and reaches to friends later or may even begin with
friends first and family later. Sometimes transitioning is at different levels
between different spheres of life. For example, someone may transition far with
family and friends before even coming out at work.
OPERATION PROCESS
The
process differs from individual to individual. As a result of this, many
factors may determine how the individual wishes to live and express their
gender identity. The best shot is finding a qualified mental health
professional that is experienced in providing affirmative care for transgender
people is an important first step. A qualified professional can provide
guidance and referrals to other helping professionals. Connecting with other
transgender through peer support groups and transgender community organizations
is also helpful.
Medical and surgical procedures exist for transsexual and
some transgender people. Hormone
replacement therapy for trans men
induces beard growth and masculinises skin,
hair, voice, and fat distribution. Hormone
replacement therapy for trans women
feminises fat distribution and breasts. Laser hair removal or electrolysis removes excess hair for
trans women. Surgical procedures for trans women feminise the voice, skin, face, adam’s apple, breasts, waist, buttocks and genitals. Surgical procedures for
trans men masculinise the chest and genitals and remove the womb and ovaries and fallopian tubes.
SOCIETAL ISSUES
(ACCEPTANCE/REJECTION)
While the visibility of transgender people is increasing in
popular culture and daily life, they still face severe discrimination, stigma
and systemic inequality.
The case of Nigeria Iris Sahhara Hensonn, Nigeria’s first
male transgender is worthy to discuss. He was being jailed in the Nigeria
prison for being too feminine and perceived as gay. According to him, he has
always felt feminine and he only described the sex assigned to him at birth as
a ‘natural defects’. His journey towards being female was wrongly misconstrued
which led to his arrest and jail years.
Another example is the Nigerian transgender man who used to
be a woman, Rizi Xavier Timane. He felt powerless and less-privileged as a
woman- her birth assigned sex- she craved the desire to trans as a male but
face several criticism from families and friends until he choose to take
further steps and relocated to the United States where he now lives as a
heterosexual man after several surgical and hormonal surgery.
The major challenges the transgender face include: lack of
legal protection, poverty, harassment and stigma, anti-transgender violence and
barriers to healthcare.
CONCLUSION

The
quest to be a transgender or not has now become a social phenomenon that begs
for various questions and opinions. The rapid enlightenment has douse the
criticism; although in some part of the world, transgender people still face
backlash and suffer hate and criticism but the awareness has made people to
delve into the subject. The question you hear now is, ‘Are you sure he is a
male or female?’ Many people still feel it is a wrong ideology to embrace
transgender people while others feel the need to celebrate this people and
encourage them.
Societal
values and tradition are more reason why the acceptability of transgender in
some Western countries has become a challenge. People perceive it as been
totally wrong and would readily condemned anyone find encouraging it which has
made many people avert the subject and see no need to discuss it. But the major
question which we ought to ask ourselves is: 
Is it worth it to change your birth assigned sex? What do you stand to
lose or gain if you do?