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Trans woman

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A trans woman (sometimes trans-woman or transwoman) is a woman who was assigned male at birth. The term transgender woman is not always interchangeable with transsexual woman, although the terms are often used interchangeably. Transgender is an umbrella term that includes different types of gender variant people (including transsexual people). Trans women may experience gender dysphoria and may transition, especially by hormone replacement therapy and sometimes sex reassignment surgery, which can bring immense relief and even resolve gender dysphoria. They may be heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual or none of the above.

Trans women face a vast amount of discrimination (transmisogyny, a subset of transphobia), including in employment and access to housing, and face physical and sexual violence and hate crimes, including from partners (especially cisgender men); discrimination is particularly severe towards trans women of color.

Contents

Overview

 
A trans woman at a gay pride parade in São Paulo

Both transsexual and transgender women may experience gender dysphoria, distress brought upon by the discrepancy between their gender identity and the sex that was assigned to them at birth (and the associated gender role or primary and secondary sex characteristics).[1]

Both transsexual and transgender women may transition. A major component of medical transition for trans women is estrogen hormone replacement therapy, which causes the development of female secondary sex characteristics (breasts, redistribution of body fat, lower waist–hip ratio, etc.). This, along with sex reassignment surgery can bring immense relief, and in most cases, rids the person of gender dysphoria.[2][3]

Terminology

The term trans woman originates from the use of the Latin prefix trans- meaning "across, beyond, through, on the other side [4]of, to go beyond" and woman.[5] However, this word was first used in Leslie Feinbergs’s book, Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman in 1996.[5] The book describes a trans woman as "a male-to-female transgender or transsexual person."[6] This definition is widely accepted and used in the Oxford English Dictionary. However, she elaborates on it by saying that being a trans woman often has a negative connotation.[6] She explains that people refer to trans woman as "freaks" and that her gender expression has made her a "target."[6]

Heidi M. Levitt provides a simpler description of trans woman. She defines trans woman as "the sex of those who transition from one sex to the other."[7] Levitt mentions how the abbreviation "MTF" is commonly used, meaning male-to-female.[7] A final perspective by Rachel McKinnon explains how the term is complicated.[8] While some trans women have undergone surgery and may have female genitalia, many struggle in society to pass as a woman and be accepted.[8] This ability to pass can cause one who was considered a trans woman to be seen as just a real woman.[8] She explains that this is controversial since trans women do not have the biological ability to reproduce and are missing a uterus and ovaries.[8] However, she concludes that "trans women are women" who challenge socially constructed norms of what it means to be a woman.[8]

The CDC refers to the word "transgender" as "an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity or expression (masculine, feminine, other) is different from their sex (male, female) at birth".[9] Trans woman is commonly interchanged with other terms such as transgender woman and transsexual woman.[7] According to OxfordDictionaries.com, transgender means "denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex."[10] However, Heidi M Levitt describes transgender as "different ways in which people transgress the gender boundaries that are constituted within a society."[7] She then describes how one must understand the difference between sex and gender in order to fully understand transgender.[7] She argues that sex is biological whereas "gender is a social construct."[7] Thus people who are transgender express themselves differently than their biological sex. In contrast, Levitt explains that "transsexual people have a sexual identity that does not match their physical sex" and that some desire sex-reassignment surgery.[7]

In addition, the Oxford English Dictionary refers to transsexual as "having physical characteristics of one sex and psychological characteristics of the other" and "one whose sex has been changed by surgery."[5] These definitions show that someone who is transsexual expresses their gender differently than assigned at birth. In addition, they may want or undergo surgery to change their physical appearance. Thus trans women fall under the umbrella of being transgender because their gender was assigned male at birth but they identify as a woman.[7] However, not all trans women are transsexual since they may or may not choose to undergo sex-reassignment surgery.[7]

Some trans women who feel that their gender transition is complete prefer to be called simply women, considering trans woman or male-to-female transsexual to be terms that should only be used for people who are not fully transitioned. Likewise, many may not want to be seen as a "trans woman," owing to society's tendency to "other" individuals who do not fit into the sex/gender binary, or have personal reasons beyond that not to wish to identify as transgender post-transition. Among those who do refer to themselves as trans women, many see it as an important and appropriate distinction to include a space in the term, as in trans woman, thus using trans as merely an adjective describing a particular type of woman; this is in contrast to the usage of transwoman as one word, implying a "third gender".[11]

Sexual orientation

Trans women may identify as heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual or none of the above.[9] A survey of roughly 3000 trans women showed that only 23% of them identified as heterosexual, with 31% as bisexual, 29% as lesbian, 7% as asexual, and 7% identifying as "queer". 2% checked "other".[12]

The stereotype of the effeminate boy who grows up to live as a woman has a very long history.[13]

Libido

In a 2008 study, trans women had a higher incidence of decreased libido (34%)[clarification needed] than cisgender females (23%), but the difference was not statistically significant and may have been due to chance.[14] As in males, female libido is thought to correlate with serum testosterone levels[15][16][17][18] (with some controversy[19]) but the 2008 study found no such correlation in trans women.[14][20]

Violence towards trans women

Trans women face a form of violence known as trans bashing. The Washington Blade reported that Global Rights, an international NGO, tracked the mistreatment of trans women in Brazil, including at the hands of the police.[21] To commemorate those who have been murdered in hate crimes, an annual Transgender Day of Remembrance is held in various locations across Europe, America, Australia, and New Zealand, with details and sources for each murder provided at their website.[22]

United States

One cause of the violence towards trans women is the perpetrator feels “tricked” upon learning their sexual partner is transgender. (See Trans panic defense.) Approximately 56% of violent crimes towards trans people between 1990-2005 occurred because of this perceived deception. Almost 95% of these crimes were committed by cisgender men towards trans women.[23] According to a 2005 paper looking at HIV needs analysis in Houston, Texas, "50% of transgender people surveyed had been hit by a primary partner after coming out as transgender".[24]

According to a 2009 report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, quoted by the Office for Victims of Crime, 11% of all hate crimes towards members of the LGBTQ community were directed towards trans women.[24]

In 2015 a trope took hold in the United States media to the effect that the life expectancy of a trans woman of color is only 35 years, a number both "terrifying and ludicrous".[25] This appears to be based on a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which compiled data for all of the Americas (North, South, and Central), and does not disaggregate by race.[26][27]

In 2016, 23 transgender people suffered fatal attacks in the United States. The Human Rights Campaign report found some of these deaths to be direct results of an anti-transgenderism bias, and some due to related factors such as homelessness.[28] (For context, the FBI reported that 17,250 people were murdered that year.[29]) See Homicide statistics by gender.

Discrimination

Trans women, like all gender variant people, face a vast amount of discrimination and transphobia.[12]:8 A 2014 survey from The Williams Institute found that, of 6,546 respondents (self-identified transgender, as well as gender nonconforming), 57% whose families had rejected them attempted suicide, as did 63%–78% of those who suffered physical or sexual violence at school (any level).[30]

A survey of roughly 3000 trans women living in the United States, as summarized in the report "Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey", found that trans women reported that:[12][specify]

  • 36% have lost their job due to their gender.
  • 55% have been discriminated against in hiring.
  • 29% have been denied a promotion.
  • 25% have been refused medical care.
  • 60% of the trans women that have visited a homeless shelter reported incidents of harassment there.
  • When displaying identity documents incongruent with their gender identity/expression, 33% have been harassed and 3% have been physically assaulted.
  • 20% reported harassment by police, with 6% reporting physical assaulted and 3% reporting sexual assault by an officer. 25% have been treated generally with disrespect by police officers.
  • Among jailed trans women, 40% have been harassed by inmates, 38% have been harassed by staff, 21% have been physically assaulted, and 20% have been sexually assaulted.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs' report of 2010 anti-LGBTQ violence found that of the 27 people who were murdered because of their LGBTQ identity, 44% were trans women.[31]

Discrimination is particularly severe towards trans women of color, who experience the intersection of racism and transphobia. Multiracial, Latina, Black and American Indian trans women are twice to more than three times as likely as White trans women to be sexually assaulted in prison.[32]

In her book Whipping Girl, trans woman Julia Serano refers to the unique discrimination trans women experience as "transmisogyny".[33]

Discrimination against trans women has occurred at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival after the Festival set out a rule that it would only be a space for cisgender females. This led to protests by trans women and their allies, and a boycott of the Festival by Equality Michigan in 2014.The boycott was joined by the Human Rights Campaign ("HRC"), the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation ("GLAAD"), the National Center for Lesbian Rights ("NCLR"), and the National LGBTQ Task Force ("The Task Force"). The womyn-born-womyn intention first came to attention in 1991 after a transsexual festival-goer, Nancy Burkholder, was asked to leave the festival when several women recognized her as a trans woman and expressed discomfort with her presence in the space.[34][35]

Notable trans women

 
American activist trans women Andrea James and Calpernia Addams
 
Laverne Cox, a transgender actress who plays a trans woman on the show Orange is the New Black

See also

References

  1. ^ "Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People (version 7)" (PDF). The World Professional Association for Transgender Health. p. 96. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-09-24.
  2. ^ Beidel, Deborah C; Frueh, B. Christopher; Hersen, Michel (30 June 2014). Adult Psychopathology and Diagnosis (7th ed.). New York: [[Wiley]]. p. 618. ISBN 978-1-118-92791-5. OCLC 956674391. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  3. ^ Köllen, Thomas (25 April 2016). Sexual Orientation and Transgender Issues in Organizations: Global Perspectives on LGBT Workforce Diversity. Springer. p. 138. ISBN 978-3-319-29623-4. OCLC 933722553. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  4. ^ Hoogland, Renée C. (2016). Gender: Sources, Perspectives, and Methodologies. Macmillan Reference USA, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. pp. 377–392. ISBN 9780028662824.
  5. ^ a b c "Oxford English Dictionary".
  6. ^ a b c Feinberg, Leslie. Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman. Boston, MA: Beacon, 2005. 1996. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Levitt, Heidi M. "Transgender." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, edited by William A. Darity, Jr., 2nd ed., vol. 8, Macmillan Reference USA, 2008, pp. 431-432. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 3 Apr. 2017
  8. ^ a b c d e McKinnon, Rachel. "Gender, Identity, and Society." Philosophy: Sex and Love, edited by James Petrik and Arthur Zucker, Macmillan Reference USA, 2016, pp. 175-198. Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 18 May 2017. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  10. ^ "transgender | Definition of transgender in English by Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries | English. Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  11. ^ Serano, Julia (2007). Whipping girl: a transsexual woman on sexism and the scapegoating of femininity. Emeryville, California: Seal Press. pp. 29–30. ISBN 978-1-58005-154-5.
  12. ^ a b c "Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey" (PDF). National Center for Transgender Equality & National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. 2015-01-21. p. 29.
  13. ^ Julia, Dudek (April 20, 2003), Playing with Barbies:The Role of Female Stereotypes in the Male-to-Female Transition, Transgender Tapestry, retrieved 5 February 2008
  14. ^ a b Elaut E, De Cuypere G, De Sutter P, Gijs L, Van Trotsenburg M, Heylens G, Kaufman JM, Rubens R, T'Sjoen G (Mar 2008). "Hypoactive sexual desire in transsexual women: prevalence and association with testosterone levels". European Journal of Endocrinology. 158 (3): 393–9. doi:10.1530/EJE-07-0511. PMID 18299474.
  15. ^ Turna B, Apaydin E, Semerci B, Altay B, Cikili N, Nazli O (2005). "Women with low libido: correlation of decreased androgen levels with female sexual function index". International Journal of Impotence Research. 17 (2): 148–153. doi:10.1038/sj.ijir.3901294. PMID 15592425.
  16. ^ Santoro N, Torrens J, Crawford S, Allsworth JE, Finkelstein JS, Gold EB, Korenman S, Lasley WL, Luborsky JL, McConnell D, Sowers MF, Weiss G (2005). "Correlates of circulating androgens in mid-life women: the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation". Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 90 (8): 4836–4845. doi:10.1210/jc.2004-2063. PMID 15840738.
  17. ^ Sherwin BB, Gelfand MM, Brender W (1985). "Androgen enhances sexual motivation in females: a prospective, crossover study of sex steroid administration in the surgical menopause". Psychosomatic Medicine. 47 (4): 339–351. doi:10.1097/00006842-198507000-00004. PMID 4023162.
  18. ^ Sherwin, B (1985). "Changes in sexual behavior as a function of plasma sex steroid levels in post-menopausal women". Maturitas. 7 (3): 225–233. doi:10.1016/0378-5122(85)90044-1. PMID 4079822.
  19. ^ Davis SR, Davison SL, Donath S, Bell RJ (2005). "Circulating androgen levels and self-reported sexual function in women". Journal of the American Medical Association. 294 (1): 91–96. doi:10.1001/jama.294.1.91. PMID 15998895.
  20. ^ DeCuypere G, T'Sjoen G, Beerten R, Selvaggi G, DeSutter P, Hoebeke P, Monstrey S, Vansteenwegen A, Rubens R (2005). "Sexual and physical health after sex reassignment surgery". Archives of Sexual Behavior. 34 (6): 679–690. doi:10.1007/s10508-005-7926-5. PMID 16362252.
  21. ^ Lavers, Michael K. (25 November 2013). "Report documents anti-transgender violence, discrimination in Brazil". Washington Blade: Gay News, Politics, LGBT Rights. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  22. ^ "Transgender Day of Remembrance". Transgender Day of Remembrance.
  23. ^ Schilt, Kristen, and Laurel Westbrook. “Doing Gender, Doing Heteronormativity: ‘Gender Normals," Transgender People, and the Social Maintenance of Heterosexuality.” Gender and Society, vol. 23, no. 4, 2009, pp. 440–464., www.jstor.org/stable/20676798.
  24. ^ a b "Sexual Assault: The Numbers - Responding to Transgender Victims of Sexual Assault". Office for Victims of Crime. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  25. ^ Pittman, Trav (24 November 2015). "Four Years to Live: On Violence Against Trans Women of Color". Huffington Post. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
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  29. ^ Williams, Timothy (25 September 2017). "Violent Crime in U.S. Rises for Second Consecutive Year". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  30. ^ Haas, Ann; Rodgers, Philip; Herman, Jody. "Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-12-10.
  31. ^ "70 Percent of Anti-LGBT Murder Victims Are People of Color".
  32. ^ "NTDS Report" (PDF).
  33. ^ Barker-Plummer, Bernadette (2013). "Fixing Gwen". Feminist Media Studies. 13 (4): 710–724. doi:10.1080/14680777.2012.679289.
  34. ^ Williams, Cristan (April 9, 2013). "Michigan Womyn's Music Festival". The TransAdvocate.
  35. ^ "Myths and The Truth About the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival". thetruthaboutthemichiganfestival.com. September 2014.
  36. ^ Stryker, Susan (2008). Transgender history. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0786741366.
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  38. ^ "Bruce Jenner: 'I'm a Woman'". ABC News. 2015-04-27. Retrieved 26 April 2015.