This has been the year of transgender education – with Caitlyn Jenner opening up the conversation, “transgender” isn’t a taboo or unheard of topic any longer. In previous years various people in media had tried to bring the subject to life including Laverne Cox, Janet Mock and Chaz Bono just to name a few.
Even though discussion has increased, there are still some common myths many people still believe about what it means to be transgender. Below we try to debunk some of these commonly believed myths.
Myth #1: People who identify as transgender have a hormonal imbalance
Skeptics throughout the years have argued that people can’t truly be transgender – it must be unbalanced hormones! Scientist took on the task to study the link between possible hormonal imbalances and transgender identity.
Earlier this year a study involving 101 transgender individuals between the ages of 12 and 14, showed their sex hormone levels were consistent with their assigned gender at birth.
“We’ve now put to rest the residual belief that transgender experience is a result of a hormone imbalance … it’s not,” said Johanna Olson in a statement, medical director at the Center for Transyouth Health at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Researchers in 1995 studied a region of the brain called the stria terminalis – a part of the brain known for sex and anxiety responses – MTF (male to female) transgender individuals had an average female-sized one while FTMs (female to male) had a region average to a male. Individuals who had undergone hormonal reversal for a variety of medical reasons after starting hormone therapy, retained the size that corresponded to their gender identity. No link was found between these findings and sexual orientation.
Myth #2: Medical intervention doesn’t necessarily lead to psychological improvement
Over 25 studies looking at cross-hormonal therapy, puberty suppressing therapy and sex re-assignment surgery have all found to have positive psychological impacts on transgender patients. Individuals who receive treatment are not only mentally better off than those who don’t, but they aren’t significantly any different in day-to-day functioning compared to the general population.
Myth #3: All transgender people want to transition
Not all people who identify as transgender want to start hormone therapy or have sex re-assignment surgery. Some transgender people will choose to go through hormone therapy but not have any surgeries, while others will have certain surgeries and choose to not take hormones. Every individual’s definition of transitioning is different and each person has a different experience regarding their body and transitioning.