Updated for politeness – 18/11/2016
So this is a blog I’ve been promising for a while, and now is about time to do it. Considering it is #TransAwarenessMonth. Its a really important one too, because there are a lot of problems that I’ve experienced trying to advocate for trans people on my Twitter account, where people are confused about what I’m talking about. So I hope I can clear some of this up and provide a resource to explain the difference to people if they’re getting confused about what trans you are.
I’m trans, we’ll refer to this type of trans as “dysphoric trans” or dysphorics for short from this point forwards. This means I have a legitimate medical condition. It can be found in the DSM VI under Gender Dysphoria and it can be found in the ICD 10 under Transsexualism, and ICD 11 under Gender Incongruence. It’s well documented, well researched, and backed by a high percentage of the medical community. After all, the ICD is just an international classification for disease and the DSM a Diagnostic and Statistic Manual. The numbers simply refer to which version it is. ICD 11 is going to be the newest version when its released, and DSM VI is already the newest version.
According to both medical definitions you must experience dysphoria consistently and continually, and most will elect to socially transition their gender presentation. In previous versions and understandings, it was thought imperative that you must transition fully, including reassignment surgery, if you wanted medical support. This has since been dropped to provide dysphorics with far more agency to choose what they want to do to try and manage their condition.
Some people who suffer with gender dysphoria/incongruence won’t transition at all, instead they’ll manage it another way. The important thing is that they’re comfortable and happy. If you can manage that without transition, then that’s okay too. For a lot of people with this condition however, transition is the only way forwards. This is why the medical community have had to research and create definitions for dysphorics. It’s a super important key stone in our support that allows us the ability to be taken seriously. Not just from a medical perspective, but also from political and social ones too.
On the flip side, we get to “trans*”. These are people who, in the shortest possible explanation, are simply gender nonconforming as a sociopolitical statement. To break that down a bit more simply, they rebel against their gender out of choice, not need, as a statement about gender itself. Things like feminine guys, wearing female clothes, and their hair long, but with a big manly beard. Exactly like the drag queen who won 2014’s Eurovision, Conchita Wurst. Who interestingly, as a drag queen would be considered trans* under this latter definition of it, but not under the former.
They don’t do this out of need, they do it out of their beliefs. “Gender is just a social construct! Gender roles are just social constructs! We can all be what ever we want, whenever we want. Nobody is worse than anyone else for their gender expression!” All of that jazz. This puts them on the opposite end of the scale to dysphorics.
Whereas the majority of dysphorics will elect to transition with medical support out of necessity, the majority of trans* people don’t. They just cut their hair short and call themselves a boy now. It’s entirely not the same thing and is rooted in their idea of identity politics. The idea being whatever you identify as is how you should be respected, socially politically and legally.
Why is this something I’m writing about you ask? Because trans* people are having an impact on the world which is impacting dysphorics negatively. I wrote recently about #TransDepath and how that could sweep the whole of our medical support out from underneath us. Medical support which most trans* people don’t need, but nearly all of dysphorics do. There are other problems too, such as clogging up health care services when they don’t want to transition, which is really problematic in my country as we only have 8 gender specialist clinics.
Why do they have the same name? Because the trans of dysphorics refers to “transsexualism”. This is what our condition was referred to previous to the new names like Gender Incongruence. The other kind of trans* comes from “transgender” – which I’m not sure of the origin of, but is mostly used as an umbrella term. It’s a catch-all for anyone who is transsexual, intersex, gender non conforming etc. In short, they co-opted “trans” into an umbrella term that would include themselves within it.
So what can we do? Well in my opinion, I think we need to start calling dysphoric trans people a different word. We need to provide separation between these two very different ideas. Hence my use of “dysphorics” throughout this post. Initially I suggested “trutrans” as its already a word popularised amongst trans people, and often gets responses from the non-trutrans people in the form of a slur “truscum”. A term used to describe anyone who believes in trans as a medical condition and not as a political statement. But after talking to some non-dysphorics, I realised it was probably a little rude. To which I apologise for.
I don’t want to threaten their identity or rights, I don’t care what they do as long as it isn’t affecting me or my ability to get medical support for my condition when I need it. Most dysphorics would absolutely agree with that. Live and let live, just keep your bullshit away from me. So in honour of #TransAwarenessMonth – lets be aware of the differences between people who would use the term “trans” to describe themselves. Lets be aware that dysphorics people are different to trans* people.
People said I didn’t cover non-binary here, and although I kinda did if you read between the lines, I did a follow up over here. Thanks for the support!