Who is a transgender person?

A medical expert sorts out facts from myths surrounding transgenders and inter sex individuals

New Delhi: Dr Sanjay Chugh, a New Delhi-based psychoanalyst, clarifies the various misconceptions regarding transgender and intersex groups:


Who is a transgender?

The term ‘transgender’ refers to people having a gender identity that differs from one’s sex assigned at birth. Assigning a person’s sex is based on biology — chromosomes, anatomy and hormones. But a person’s gender identity, that is, the ‘inner’ sense of being male, female, both or none, does not always match their biology.

Transgender people say they were assigned a sex that is not true to who they are or feel. Importantly, transgender is not about sexual orientation.

It is not about a boy dressing up as a girl or vice versa, but about the gender one feels ‘internally’.

In medical parlance, it is called ‘gender dysphoria’ (gender identity disorder), where people have a strong sense that they are the ‘wrong’ gender and have the wrong body parts.

Are there options for surgeries?

Before one considers undergoing any kind of medical intervention, it is imperative to establish that the person is a transgender. Often a psychiatrist and a psychologist are required to assess the person’s level of conviction, clarity and sense of discrepancy between the biological gender and the preferred gender.

The option for surgery arises only if the person opts to undergo a complete transition. Using hormone therapy treatment and/or undergoing sex reassignment surgery to masculinise or feminise their body to conform to their gender identity can be the final medical step. Though, not all transgender people want to transit fully, as it is a complex process that requires one to be emotionally, mentally, socially and financially strong.

What is the difference between: transgender, homosexual, hermaphrodite, and eunuch?

The key difference between transgender and homosexual people is of gender identity and sexual orientation. Gender identity is a person’s innermost concept of self as a male, female, both or neither. Sexual orientation is about sexual and romantic attraction towards others.

Hermaphrodite or intersex person is someone who has both male and female reproductive organs. It is seen as a sex anomaly or a disorder of sexual development.

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