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Understand what transsexuality is and contribute to the fight against transphobia

Did you know that 0.60% of the Brazilian population is made up of transgender people and 1.19% is non-binary? A survey carried out by the Universidade Estadual Paulista (Unesp) shows that gender diversity represents almost 4 million Brazilians. This part of the population needs public policies and rights. Learn more about transsexuality and understand the struggle of trans and non-binary people.

What is transsexuality?

According to Milena Sophia Marques, graduated in Psychology and Human Resources Management and postgraduate student in neuropsychology, to understand what transsexuality is, it is first necessary to understand that “there is the sexual organ (biological sex), gender (gender ) and sexuality (sexual orientation)”. These three concepts are not the same thing.

According to the psychologist, “many confuse the three with each other, but they are totally different concepts. Our society associates gender with the organ a person was born with. That is, if you were born with a vulva, you are a woman and if you were born with a penis, you are a man. Transsexuality goes beyond that.”

After this explanation, Milena says that “a CIS person identify with the gender assigned to them at birth, because of his sexual organ”. For example, if a person was born with a vulva and identifies as female, and they are cisgender.

A transgender person”does not identify with the gender assigned to it at birth, due to its sexual organ”. For example, a person was born with a penis but does not identify as a man. That is, trans people do not identify with the gender that was imposed on them because of their biological sex.

However, it is important to remember that “transsexuality does not only encompass trans men and women. So, non-binary, transvestites, crossdressers, gender fluid and agenders are also part of it”. Note that homosexuality and bisexuality are not part of it, because it is about sexuality and not the relationship between sex and gender.

the trans flag

The Transgender Pride flag was created by Monica Helms, a trans woman born in the United States. It was first displayed in the 2000s at an LGBTQIAP+ pride parade in Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States.

This flag represents the trans community. It is formed by five horizontal bands: two light blue, two pink and one white in the middle. The color blue is used to represent trans men, pink to represent trans women, and white is used to represent non-binary.

The depathologization of transsexuality

Milena explains that although many people think that transsexuality is a disorder, it was removed from ICD 11 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Health Problems).

The psychologist also highlights that some trans people suffer from gender incongruity (dysphoria), being “the suffering due to the physical body not corresponding with the gender characteristics that society expects”. However, it is important to understand that these characteristics are entirely social.

She adds that “it is necessary to understand that there are men with a vulva and there are women with a penis. For example, many trans women are comfortable with their bodies and don’t feel like having sex reassignment surgery to have a vulva. It’s one thing to be trans, it’s another to suffer from gender dysphoria.”

In addition, “many CIS people also experience disorders related to their own body image, such as BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder). This does not mean that CIS identities are pathologized. Trans depathologization is a movement to spread information to end the stigma and discrimination that surround transsexuality.”

How to refer to a trans person

A “trans woman” symbolizes a person designated male at birth, but identifies as a woman, therefore, must be addressed by feminine pronouns. The “trans man” symbolizes a person designated as a woman at birth, but identifies as a man, so he must be addressed by masculine pronouns.

On the other hand, non-binary people may prefer one or the other treatment, or opt for the use of the neutral pronoun. The most important thing is: if you have any doubts, it’s best to ask first in what way the person best identifies and how they prefer to be treated. This avoids embarrassment on both sides, shows respect and no one will be offended.

How to fight transphobia

According to research carried out by Maria Cristina Pereira Lima, between 2008 and 2018, Latin America had the highest incidences of violence against trans people in the world. More precisely, 78% of all murders against this population took place in Latin America, with most of them taking place in Brazil.

To talk more about this subject, Agnes Reitz, a trans woman, teaches what it takes to fight transphobia and fight for respect for transsexuality:

  1. Supporting laws: “What we have more urgency is the creation of specific laws and public policies for the trans community”, explains Agnes. “Unfortunately, transphobia will not cease to exist only with palliative methods, since it is intrinsically linked to machismo and consequently to femicide, which also still happens in alarming numbers in Brazil”, she adds;
  2. Opening the mind: Agnes points out that “we are surrounded by information, but people’s minds remain closed. A good part of the population knows what trans people are, but this comes up against many personal, religious and prejudice issues. For these reasons, they spontaneously choose to continue making it unfeasible”;
  3. Respect: It seems obvious, but many people refuse to respect each other. “If it is not within the norm or outside a standard imposed by society, many people fail to respect it”;
  4. Depathologize: it is very important to reinforce the idea that being trans is not a disease. “Depathologization is important, because respecting people’s identities and subjectivities helps to work on equity, arriving at de facto equality”;
  5. Educate: knowledge is one of the tools to unlock your prejudices. By reading research and getting information from good sources, you can change your thinking and learn to see the world in a more empathic way.

Still, Brazil is at the top of the ranking of countries that kill the most trans people, according to a report by Trangender Europe. Transphobia is a serious problem in society and needs to be fought.

7 Famous trans people you should know to understand about transsexuality

Do you know anyone famous who is trans? For a long time, these people were excluded from the media, but the current scenario is one of hope. Get inspired by the examples below:

Elliot Page

Elliot Page, star of the movie “Juno” and the series “The Umbrella Academy” announced that he was transgender in December 2020. The actor shared that he felt lucky to be able to say he was trans and to have made it to where he has.

Linn da Quebrada

The Brazilian Linn da Quebrada is a singer and actress. In the participation of BBB 2022, the artist showed that people still have a lot to learn about trans people. She had to explain what trans and transvestite is numerous times on the show.

Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox is an actress and producer, she became known for her character in Orange is the New Black, Sophia Burset. The actress has already shared that her discovery as a trans woman happened very early on, during her puberty, when she prayed not to become a man. She states that she “knew in my heart, soul and spirit that I was a girl”.

Tarsus Brant

Tarso Brant, actor, influencer and model, was the first transgender person to participate in the “On Vacation with Ex” program. He explains that, before the transition, he was looking for something he didn’t quite know what it was, until he understood himself as Tarsus. According to him, “we have to know how to deal with our annoyances in order to look for our treasure. This moment of Tarsus ascension inside me was delicious. I had been looking for him since I was a child, but I didn’t know who he was. It was a moment of comfort, acceptance and of wanting to know about my place in society as Tarsus.”

Valentina Sampaio

Model and actress Valentina Sampaio became known worldwide for being the first trans woman to appear on the cover of Vogue Brasil magazine, featured in Vogue Germany magazine, in addition to being the first trans woman to be on Victoria’s Secret. Despite the current success, the model says that the beginning of her career was not easy. According to her, “it was initially very challenging to get a job as a model. Even when people wanted to work with me, they were afraid to hire a trans woman. I faced a lot of ignorance and fear.”

Michaela Jaé (MJ) Rodriguez

MJ Rodriguez, Blanca Rodriguez in Pose, was the first trans woman to win a Golden Globe. She took home the award for Best Actress in a Drama Series. After the award, MJ posted on her instagram that “this is a door that is opening for many talented young people. They will see that this is more than possible. They’ll see the young black Latina girl from Newark who had a dream, a dream to change the minds of others with love. Love wins. To my young LGBTQAI babies, we are here! The door is open. Now reach for the stars.”

Nicole Maines

Nicole Maines, actress and transgender activist, became the first transgender superhero on television after playing the heroine Dreamy on the series Supergirl. In a post on Instagram, the actress says that “I was very lucky not to have been in the closet for too long, but the time I did, it was hell. Nothing but respect for those who haven’t made it out of the closet yet. I see you, I’m proud of you, and your time is coming. This won’t last forever. I hope representations, like the Dreamer, are making you feel seen and validated, even in an environment where you must be silenced.”

And trans talent isn’t limited to just 7 celebrities. We should see from these few examples that talent does not choose gender. The more the media derails trans and non-binary people, the more they miss the opportunity to work with competent and genius people.

Stories about transsexuality

To share experiences and even help other trans people, many people create content on the internet. So, follow the stories and reports of the selected videos:

What it’s like to find out about trans and understand about transsexuality

In this video, Thiessa talks about her experience of discovering herself as trans. More than that, she explains what her next steps were after this discovery and what her main difficulties were.

What is school time like for a trans person?

In this video from the Manda Crioula channel, Manda tells her experience about being trans in high school. She reports how people at school positioned themselves and how other students treated her.

Relationships: to tell about transsexuality or not?

On the Claranjada channel, Clara tells a little about her relationship experiences and raises the question about…

With Knowledge Comes Wisdom

Walk comfortably in both Darkness and Light with these digital Books of Shadows:

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