What are transsexual people and how do you know if you are one?

Most people identify strongly with the gender they’re expected to grow up as. But it’s not uncommon for a person to identify strongly with the other gender. Sometimes the desire lasts only a brief time. Sometimes it lasts a lifetime.

The desire to be another gender occurs when one’s gender identity is in conflict with one’s sexual anatomy. It may be about an erotic desire to be in the role of the other gender, to play the roles and have the privileges of the other gender, or it may be related to a feeling that one was born into the “wrong” body.

People who want to live the role of the opposite gender are called transgender. Transgender people feel that the body type and sex organs they were born with (a penis or vulva) is different from the gender they want to be (being a guy or a girl). Some transgender people choose to live the role of the gender they identify with, and some don’t. Some transgender people choose to become transsexual by having their gender reassigned through hormone treatments and/or surgery.

Transsexuals are people who live as their preferred gender full-time and may take hormones to alter their secondary sex characteristics — like voice, body hair, and muscular development. Some transsexuals have surgery to change their genitals to match their preferred gender. Transsexuals can be female-to-male (FTM, or transmen) or male-to-female (MTF, or transwomen).

Many people, including teens, have non-traditional feelings about gender roles and sexual identities, and that’s normal, too. If you think you may be transgender, it’s important to talk to someone you can trust, and who understands gender identity issues. To find a support group in your area, check out QueerAmerica. They have a database of thousands of support groups and other resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning youth.

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