Gender identity is not an assumed given based on biological sex. Sometimes people feel that their self-identified gender is different from their assigned one. Currently Gender Identity Disorder (GID) is classified as a mental disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. In the fifth edition the term will be changed to Gender Dysphoria. The psychological community diagnoses people with Gender Identity Disorder when they feel gender dysporia, or a discontent with their assigned biological gender. The DSM-IV states that children have to, “display at least four of the following symptoms of cross-gender identification for a diagnosis of gender identity disorder” which include insistence from the child that they are not the gender they were biologically assigned, a habit of cross-dressing, a desire to be the gender they have not been biologically assigned during fantasy or pretend games, wanting to fill in stereotypical roles of the gender they have not been biologically assigned such as playing sports versus dolls, and a preference to have friends who are not the gender they have not been biologically assigned. It can be diagnosed by a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Transgender is “an umbrella term that can include transsexuals, cross-dressers, and those with a fluid, androgynous identity who do not consider themselves completely male or female.”
Being transgender does not affect sexual orientation. A female to male transgender does not automatically like women because liking women would be the heterosexual way. Transgender people can be heterosexual, homosexual, asexual, or any other sexual orientation.
The process for changing from one sex to the other is long and difficult. Hormones are taken and sex reassignment surgery done.
There are many difficulties surrounding changing including people not believing you, not having the money, not having support, insurance not covering it, and a transphobic society.
Issues surrounding gender identity do not only affect one age group, such as teens going through puberty in the process of discovering their sexual identity. Some recent events surrounding gender identity that have made the news include a wide spectrum of ages. Notably, a six year old child made national CNN headlines. Although she is biologically male, the girl is mentally female, acts like a female, and is treated like a female by her loved ones. Her story involves one of the main issues that arise when people are concerned with transgender people: public restrooms. Transgender people are often harassed when they use public restrooms and a unisex bathroom would solve that problem. Currently, only five American cities have legislation that allows people to choose to use the bathroom labeled with the gender they self-identify with rather than their biological gender. Local and state laws dictate public restroom use. Opponents of passing unisex bathrooms or allowing people to use the bathroom associated with their self-assigned gender speak against the change because they believe sex offenders will take advantage of the change to find and harm victims.
But some opponents are simply queerphobic. Mary Anne Case, a law professor at the University of Chicago, called bathrooms a “cultural fault line” and considers that, “very few spaces in our society remain divided by sex. There’s marriage and there’s toilets, and very little else.” Riki Wilchins, the executive director of the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition, said that when this issue arises on campus, “Students are looking hard at the right to express their gender, a painful rite of passage for every young adult. These kids are demanding the right to be who they are and what they are twenty-four/seven. They’re tired of being harassed or hassled when they simply need to use a public facility.”
Hopefully, one day America can function as a society where everyone is taken care of regardless of gender identity.