Imagine for one second staring down at your body in the shower and feeling like you are in the wrong body. Now Imagine knowing that you are a man or a woman but that your body was the opposite of that. Imagine for a second the looks you get when you abide by cultural norms pertaining to a gender that others don’t see you as part of when you know in a very visceral way that you are part of that gender.
For every cisgender person on this earth, it is a feeling that we couldn’t probably comprehend. For many transgender people, it is something they have probably all experienced. All you empaths out there, you are probably imagining a scenario that is quite traumatising. Now picture going through puberty while dealing with gender dysphoria.
Pre-18 gender dysphoria
As an adult dealing with gender dysphoria can be at best challenging, at worst a constant cause of anxiety and a feeling like you just don’t belong in a heteronormic society. However, as an adult, there are things you can choose to do in order to make it feel like you belong. I cringe even writing that, because actually in an ideal world people wouldn’t have to make changes in order to “fit in”. The world would be a place where people just felt like they “belong”. However, that is not yet the world in which we live.
So what options does an adult have? Well to begin with there is the obvious one – surgery. They can decide to change their body so it is in line with the way that they feel. Of course, this is not appropriate for everybody who suffers from gender dysphoria. Some people are gender fluid meaning that they sometimes feel like a man, sometimes like a woman, sometimes like neither and sometimes both! I know, it’s complex. For the sake of this article, we are purely looking at people who identify with the opposite of their assigned birth sex.
The other options include hormone treatments. The body can be sparked into developing breast tissue for instance with the use of medications. For many, this is either a precursor to surgery or a less invasive alternative. Most of these things are available now through the national health service. but not for those under the age of 18. It is tough for transgender adults but at least they have (in theory) protection from prejudice.
The hardships of being a teen-trans
There are laws in place to protect people from cruelty they may face for being transgender. These rules almost cease to exist in the playgrounds of our nation’s schools. It is fair to say that the majority of schools are quick to try and deal with any LGBTQ+ issues but with the greatest intent in the world, they will never really be able to do enough.
What can schools do?
The majority of schools do their part but ultimately they will be more influenced by the views of their parents. There is a trickle-down effect where more people “get it” these days but it will be generations before trans people are truly accepted. Let’s be honest here, although the gay community is as widely accepted as it ever has been, there is still a long way to go before they have parity with their heterosexual counterparts, and by parity, I mean not having to face scrutiny because of their sexuality, ever. That is the way it should be.
For now, I think the responsibility lies mainly with schools but as individuals, we can try and make a difference “homophobe shaming” Isn’t going to make homophobes stop, but entering discourse with them might help. It’s hard sometimes when you feel passionate to hear bigotry but try to understand that sometimes it is ingrained and a soft approach is required.