You shouldn’t take any label or title and apply it as an absolute for anyone. For example; “All gay people love to dance.” As much as dancing is fun and hardly a harmful assumption, it’s simply not true, since we are all human and multifaceted, unique individuals.
Misconception #1: “Transgender individuals are confused.”
Members of the LGBTQ community aren’t strangers to this offensive and inaccurate misconception. Because the vast majority of Americans are cisgender, meaning they identify with the sex they are assigned at birth, transgender individuals fall outside the social norms that they are most comfortable with. Confusion is often the reason that many people argue that children shouldn’t be allowed to identify with a gender different from the biological gender they are assigned at birth. The fact that data doesn’t support confusion is a concern. For example, people who undergo gender reassignment surgery show virtually no regret with just 1 to 2% of people who undergo gender reassignment surgery expressing any regret.
Misconception #2: “Transgender individuals are self-hating.”
Due to the lack of progress in both policy and medicine, transgender individuals have been forced to live in a body that they do not identify with. This can lead to gender dysphoria, which can then lead to a conflict of what they see versus who they are.
However, it is false that transgender individuals are born hating their own body and are rejecting their biological gender as an expression of this hate. Being transgender is about the internal identity one has. Struggling with self-esteem and body image issues are the result of societal attitudes that influence how we feel about our identities. This is an issue that not only affects people in the transgender community but all of us.
Misconception #3: “Transgender individuals are homosexual.”
Sexual identity and sexual orientation are two different matters. “LGBQ” was the acronym used for the gay community prior to LGBTQ when trans individuals were included along with lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer individuals. This addition has the unintended consequence of signaling that everyone included in this label has a common sexual orientation, when it really signals commonalities related to sexuality and social exclusion.
Sexual orientation describes a person’s enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attraction to another person. Gender identity is about one’s own sense of self. Sexual orientation isn’t defined by gender.
Misconception #4: ’Transgender’ and ‘transsexual’ are the same.”
Transsexual (also can be spelled transexual) is the medical term for a person who has changed their physical gender to their desired gender. This is true in either case where a person has undergone a change from male to female or female to male.
Transgender is the more contemporary term used to describe “transsexuals” because of negative connotations associated with the term transexual. However, a key difference here in the use of the contemporary form is that “transgender” describes individuals whose biological gender differs from their gender identity. These people may or may not have gone through any medical process to alter their biological gender or physical selves to align their gender identity with their biological gender.
These are general descriptions and because humans are unique, any or all of these can intersect for some individuals.
Misconception #5: “Transgender individuals undergo sexual reassignment surgery.”
As noted earlier, being transgender is an internal, not a biological or physical, representation of one’s gender. When a person identifies as transgender, regardless of any subsequent action taken, they are transgender. Transitioning doesn’t mean a physical change. Mentally, many transgender individuals have successfully transitioned without surgery. Some have no desire to pursue surgeries or medical intervention.
None of us are immune from the impact of stereotypes that are formed from popular experiences or well spread ignorance. We hope that this post can serve as a resource for reference that will help people become more informed and avoid hurtful learning experiences at the expense of their transgender peers.
For more information, check out this helpful FAQ developed by our friends at the Human Rights Campaign.