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Transgender & transsexual individuals, and gender identity

2013 & 2014: One national and one
Massachusetts study about transgender
persons

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This topic is a continuation of the previous essay

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2013-JUN: Pew Research's survey of LGBT American adults:

This national survey was conducted among 1,197 lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons. Only 43 transgender participants were included. This prevented Pew Research from reporting separate results on the views of transgender persons. The survey did not touch on the degree of discrimination and bullying experienced by transgender persons. However, they did find some information that may be helpful:

  • 5% out of all of the LGBT respondents identified themselves as primarily transgender.

  • Most of the transgender respondents first felt that their gender was different from their birth-assigned sex before puberty.

  • The report states:

    "For many, being transgender is a core part of their overall identity, even if they may not widely share this with many people in their lives. ..."

    "... just as gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals perceive less commonality with transgender people than with each other, transgender adults may appear not to perceive a great deal of commonality with lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals. In particular, issues like same-sex marriage may be viewed as less important by this group, and transgender adults appear to be less involved in the LGBT community than are other sub-groups."

Some of the transgender respondents added personal comments:

  • Age 24: "It finally feels comfortable to be in my own body and head -- I can be who I am, finally."

  • Age 77: "I have suffered most of my life in the wrong gender. Now I feel more at home in the world, though I must admit, not completely. There is still plenty of phobic feeling."

  • Age 56: "Though I have not transitioned fully, being born as male but viewing things from a female perspective gives me a perspective from both vantage points. I am very empathetic because of my circumstance."

  • Age 77: "Times were different for in-between kids born in the 30's. We mostly tried to conform and simply lived two lives at once. The stress caused a very high suicide rate and a higher rate of alcohol addiction (somehow I was spared both.) "

  • Age 27: "It’s been hard and very cleansing at the same time. The hardest part is telling old friends because they’ve known you for so long as your born gender. But most people are willing to change for you if they care enough."

  • Age 44: "This [transitioning] process is difficult. Most people know me one way and to talk to them about a different side of me can be disconcerting. I have not told most people because of my standing in the community and my job, which could be in jeopardy"

  • Age 29: "Some of my family still refers to me as 'she' but when we go out they catch themselves because of how I look, they sound foolish to strangers. :) When it’s a bunch of family or old friends, they usually don’t assign me a gender; they say my name. But I don’t get too bothered by it, they are family and, well, that’s a huge thing to have to change in your mind. For the ones that do it out of disrespect, I just talk to them one-on-one and ask for them to do better."

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2014-JUL: Project VOICE Report on transgender discrimination in Massachusetts:

A state Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act that passed by the Legislature in 2011 and implemented in 2012. It currently offers protections to individuals on the basis of gender identity and gender expression within hate crimes laws, and non-discrimination laws in employment, housing, credit and education. However, it does not include protection from discrimination by public accommodations. These are defined as "any place that is open to the public and provides goods or services.” Examples of of public accommodations are hotels, restaurants, other retail establishments, public parks, buses, trains, theatres, hospitals, and health care centers.

There is an Equal Access Bill active in the Massachusetts Legislature that would require access for transgender persons to public accommodations. It is House Bill 1589 and Senate Bill 643, and titled:

"An Act relative to equal access in hospitals, public transportation, nursing homes, supermarkets, retail establishments, and all other places open to the public." 1

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) 2 and The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health 3 issued a 41 page needs assessment called "Voicing Our Individual and Community Experiences" (Project VOICE). It contains the findings of their survey of 452 transgender and gender nonconforming adults in Massachusetts. 4 They reported:

"The initial findings of Project VOICE may be startling to those unaware of the persistent and ongoing discrimination faced by transgender and gender nonconforming people. Unfortunately, those of us who work with gender minority communities know that mistreatment is all too common. In addition to being a matter of social justice, protecting gender minority communities from mistreatment is a matter of public health. Discrimination is detrimental to the health and well being of our community,” said Dr. Sari Reisner, ScD, transgender health researcher and LifeSkills Investigator at Fenway.

Some of the key findings:

  • "Overall, 65% of respondents reported discrimination in one or more public accommodations settings in the past 12 months.

  • The five most prevalent discrimination settings were transportation (36%), retail (28%), restaurant (26%), public gathering (25%), and health care facility/service (24%).

  • Those who reported public accommodation discrimination in the past 12 months had an 84% increased risk of adverse physical symptoms (such as headache, upset stomach, tensing of muscles, or pounding heart) in the past 30 days and 99% increased risk of emotional symptoms (including feeling emotionally upset, sad, or frustrated) in the past 30 days.

  • 28% of respondents reported that they had not seen a doctor in the past year.

  • 29% reported having to teach their health care provider about transgender health issues in the past year.

  • 5% percent of respondents reported that a health care provider had refused to treat them in the past 12 months because they are transgender or gender nonconforming." 5,6

In addition:

  • 19% either postponed or did not try to obtain medical care when they were sick or injured during the previous 12 months because of prior experience(s) of disrespect or mistreatment by health care providers due to their transgender or gender nonconforming status.

The relationship of the sex that the participants were assigned at birth to their current gender identity may give an idea of the larger transgender community in North America. In the Massachusetts survey:

  • 28% were assigned a male sex at birth and now identify as a woman, as female, or on the male-to-female (MTF) spectrum.

  • 9% were assigned a male sex at birth and currently identify as gender nonconforming or having a non-binary gender identity.

  • 31% were assigned a female sex at birth and now identify as a man, as male, or on the female-to-male (FTM) spectrum.

  • 4.4% said that they had been diagnosed with a medically-recognized intersexual condition. Of these, 12 (60%) had been assigned a male sex at birth; 8 (40%) had been assigned a female sex at birth.

  • 55% have taken hormones or undergone surgery so that their body more closely matches their gender identity.

  • 75% live full-time as the the gender that they identify as.

  • 46% are single.

  • 48% are partnered.

  • 6% identify as neither single nor partnered -- presumably an intense but not yet committed relationship.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Sonia Chang-Diaz (sponsor), "Bill S. 643," Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2014, at: https://malegislature.gov/
  2. "Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition's" (MTPC) home page is at: http://www.masstpc.org/
  3. "The Fenway Institute's home page is at: http://thefenwayinstitute.org/
  4. TRT Editor, "Fenway & MTPC Release Project VOICE Report on Transgender Discrimination," The Rainbow Times, 2014-JUL-17, at: http://www.therainbowtimesmass.com/
  5. S.L. Reisner et al., Introduction to the Project VOICE report, Fenway Health, 2014-JUL-17, at: http://fenwayfocus.org/
  6. Text of the report: " Discrimination and Health in Massachusetts: A statewide survey of transgender and gender non-conforming adults," Fenway Health, 2014-JUL-17, at:http://fenwayfocus.org/

Copyright © 2011 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2011-APR-22
Latest update: 2014-JUL=17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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