It’s impossible to ignore the fact that Laverne Cox is the most famous transgender celebrity out there at the moment. Even if you’re not familiar with her amazing performance in Orange Is The New Black, you’ve definitely seen her face at least once these last few weeks. Laverne recently made history as the first transgender woman to appear on the cover of Time magazine, and so she’s been showing up on a bunch of different talk shows. No complaining here – Laverne is smart, funny, talented, and seems very gracious and nice as well. I love watching her interviews!
But despite all of the great press she’s been getting, Laverne has still had frustrating moments. This past week, she was on The Wendy Williams Show, where she was asked a whole bunch of annoying questions about being transgender that I’m sure she’s really sick of answering. She also showed up on Katie Couric’s talk show Katie to talk things over – the last time she was on the show, Katie focused way too much on Laverene’s physical transformation, and this time, the two had an open conversation about what could be learned from that.
There’s nothing wrong with being curious about what being transgender means. But it’s also important to educate yourself about the subject. In celebration of LGBTQ month (we already did myths about bisexuals!), here are 10 myths about being transgender that aren’t true. Do your research before you inadvertently offend anyone!
Transgender People Are Actually GayBeing transgender is not the same thing as being gay. Gender identity and sexual identity are too entirely different things that shouldn't be grouped together. Being transgender is about gender identity, which is what gender we see ourselves as being. Some transgender people see themselves as gay, some see themselves as straight. It really depends on the person.
All Transgender People Hate Their BodiesIt is a common myth that all transgender people hate the bodies they were born into, but that's not always true. Yes, many transgender people feel uncomfortable in their body. And, yes, many transgender people opt to get surgery to change their bodies into what they want. But there are also transgender people who choose to leave their body the way it is. And even when transitioning, some transgender people don't necessarily hate their bodies. It's a personal struggle that some people have. Source: ShutterStock
A Transgender Person Is Not A 'Real' Man or WomanThis is an incredibly offensive and hurtful thing to say to or about any transgender person... and unfortunately, some people still say and believe it. Saying that a transgender female isn't a "real" woman because she was born a male is not only rude - it's also basically saying that transgender people are not human, like they don't belong in this world. It's a really hateful thing to say. The fact is, everyone has the right to be who they want to be, including transgender people.
You Have To Have Surgery To Be A 'Real' Transgender PersonA lot of people who don't understand how being transgender works assume that in order to be considered transgender, you have to have surgery to change your body into the gender you identify with. Saying something like this only comes out as ignorance. There are many transgender people who choose to have surgery and go through a transitioning process. But there are also plenty of transgender people who don't want surgery! Just like being transgender is not about who you're attracted to, it's also not about what your body looks like. Again, being transgender is about gender identity. So, not choosing to get surgery does not mean you aren't "really" a transgender person. Source: ShutterStock
Transgender People Live Wild, Crazy LivesThanks to society stereotypes and the way the media perceives things, a lot of people think that transgender people live crazy lives full of things like drag shows, prostitution, drugs, etc. They also assume that every transgender female acts extremely feminine, and every transgender male acts extremely masculine. Nope! Every transgender person out there is different and unique. There is not any specific way that transgender people act. Source: ShutterStock
Children Are Too Young To Be Aware Of Gender IdentityWhen you hear stories about transgender children, you also hear a lot of critics say things like, "He/she is just a kid! They don't know any better! They're just confused!" That's definitely not true. Children, no matter what age, are not too young to feel like they were born into the wrong body. There are a lot of transgender children out there for a reason - they are fully aware of gender identity, even though they may not be aware of the exact term. It's hurtful to the transgender community to say that there can't be transgender kids. Source
Drag Queens and Transgender People Are The SameThose who aren't familiar with what being transgender means (or what dressing in drag means) think that being transgender and being a drag queen is the same thing. It's not! They're completely different! Being transgender is about identifying with the gender you were not born into. Drag queens or kings perform and dress up in drag as a form of entertainment, or for other reasons. Dressing in drag doesn't mean you're transgender. And when a transgender person is dressing like the opposite sex, they don't consider this drag - they just consider this getting dressed. Source: ShutterStock
Everyone Who Is Transgender Has The Same ExperienceEvery transgender person has experienced the frustration of hearing people ask detailed and personal questions about the transitioning process. But as Laverene Cox pointed out on Katie, transgender people don't like discussing this. First of all, it's a private matter. Second, every transgender person has their own experience. It is not the same for everyone! Assuming it is is ignorant and hurtful.
Being Transgender Is A ChoiceSaying that being transgender is a choice you make is the same thing as saying that being gay is a choice you make - it's ridiculous. Gender identity is not a decision, like, "Hm, I think I feel like being a woman instead of a man." This is why questions like the one Wendy Williams asked Laverene Cox are offensive (she asked, "Do you recall the moment in your life when you decided to go from male to female?"). Saying stuff like this makes it seem like this is something you have control over, and it's not.
Being Transgender Is Something That Can Be FixedYou know how some religions and people believe that sending a gay child off to some sort of camp will "cure" them of being gay and turn them straight? Yeah, well this is the same type of thing. You can't "fix" a transgender person, and you shouldn't want to! When kids identify as transgender and people say things like, "It's a phase," they're implying that being transgender is something you can change. It isn't. Being transgender is real, and it's time everyone accepted that.
Which of these myths were you confused about? Which myths did I forget? Which myth do you think is the most offensive? Tell me in the comments.