The first thing to settle when talking about trans issues is that it’s trans, transgender, trans man, and trans woman.
It is NOT any of the following: trans*, tranny, transsexual, transman/trans!man, transwoman/trans!woman, ftm, or mtf. Trans*, tranny, transvestite, and transsexual are offensive in general, and while some people personally identify as ftm or mtf, they aren’t to be used without permission. For some people, being seen as a “female to male” or “male to female” causes dysphoria and discomfort.
Other terms to stay away from include: b!p (boy!pussy) and g!p (girl!penis) as it is never okay to address a person that way; you'd never call all cis girls "girl!pussies." Also, transgender is an adjective, not a noun. That is why someone is a trans man, not a transman. That is also why someone “is a transgender person,” not “is a transgender” or transgendered.
Misconception #1: All Transgender People Are Alike
The second important thing to remember is that not all transgender people are alike, just like not all cis people are alike. That’s because life has a lot of twists and turns and people in general are just different. They want and react differently. There are stereotypes and there is a lot of misinformation, so do your research. Not all trans men are traditionally masculine. Not all trans women are traditionally feminine. Not all non-binary people look androgynous. Don’t let their gender take over everything that they are, but don't ignore it.
Misconception #2: They Hate Their Bodies
It is perfectly normal for a transgender person to love their body, even without the modification of hormone therapy and/or surgery. Not all transgender people take hormones and not all transgender people want surgery. They’re still just as transgender as any other transgender person. The worth of a transgender person and their right to call themselves such is not found in whether or not “they look” like the gender they identify as. A transgender man in a dress and panties is still as much a man as a cis man in a dress and panties.
Misconception #3: Unless They Disclose Immediately, They're Liars
There are those that believe that if someone doesn’t immediately disclose the fact that they’re transgender that they’re lying or trying to trick people, but that is not the case.
You are never entitled to the personal details of another person’s gender or what they look like naked. You should not expect anyone to feel obligated to disclose the fact that they are transgender to every person they meet. It’s personal, intimate. It’s something that a lot of people like to keep to themselves or only talk about with close friends. Some people are happy to yell about being transgender, others prefer to keep it quieter. Respect that, which also means remembering that it isn't your place to out them to others either.
Misconception #4: Trans Is a Secret Extra Gender
Transgender people are not a secret extra gender. They are no different than cis people. Some transgender people identify as non-binary, but those that identify as men or women are just men or women. No conditionals necessary. There is also a common misconception that transgender people are all easy to spot, as if they look inherently different than cis people. That’s not true. Some transgender people look just like cis people, even without taking hormones or having surgeries.
Misconception #5: It's a Sex Thing
It is not a sex thing. Transgender people are not transgender because they want to be mindless sex machines. It doesn’t affect their sexual orientation in any way other than telling their compass which gender to start with to base terminology on. Being transgender is about your gender, it’s about who you are as a person, who you want to go to bed as and it has nothing at all to do with sex or who you want to go to bed with. Period. It has nothing to do with wanting to catch a peek at other people in the bathroom either. Anything that makes it seem otherwise is fetishization and unsolicited fetishization makes people unsafe and uncomfortable.
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Misconception #6: Trans People Are Just Extra Gay
Transgender people are not “extra gay, so they just decided to spill over into another gender so they can claim to be hetero.” Like I just said, it’s not about sexual attraction, it’s about personal expression. They are also not “so in denial of the fact that they’re gay that they decide to transition to stay hetero.” While internalized homophobia and self-hatred is no joke, it is not the reason a person identifies as transgender. People also ask why gay and lesbian transgender people don’t just “stay cis” so that they can be straight and have an easier life, and while I can’t say the easier part isn’t true in some ways, it is never easier to deny yourself your true identity.
Misconception #7: All Trans People Have Sob Stories
Not all transgender narratives are sob stories. Most transgender people come across negativity in their life in one form or another because of their gender, but it does not have to rule them. Instead of beating them, it can make them stronger. There are many transgender people who are perfectly happy, who don’t have sad stories about their past, and like their body or the journey to improving their body. There’s a shy, beaten, uncomfortable and unhappy transgender stereotype that is particularly popular with writing trans men and that is not the only narrative out there to be shared.
Misconception #8: Being Trans Is a Mental Illness
Being transgender is not a mental illness. For a while, it was classified as one, much like homosexuality and most forms of "difference," but that simply is not the case. As people became more aware and educated on transgender struggles, this became clear.
Misconception #9: Hormone Therapy and Surgery Is Just Cosmetic
Many people believe that hormone therapy and surgery is strictly cosmetic, which is usually used in arguments against the money and resources put into acquiring said things. The thing is, for some people, the need for transitioning is serious. For some people, it saves them from suicide, self-hatred, and dysphoria. I’ve never heard of a transgender person getting on hormones or having surgeries who wasn’t infinitely happier with their life afterwards. Being happier makes it so much easier to do more things. It’s important to those that need it.
Misconception #10: Transitioning Isn't a Big Deal
Hormone treatment and the other stuff associated with transitioning is brutal. It’s not an easy button where you decide you want to do the thing and boom, you’re a pretty, pretty butterfly. There are side effects to hormone therapy that basically make a person lose control of their own body. Mood swings and lack of coordination are not uncommon in those that are getting used to their hormone treatments. (Neither is increased arousal.) Surgeries scar and take time to heal. Binders and packers are a daily thing for those that choose to wear them as well, both with and without medical transitioning paired in. Binders can be difficult to get on and off, especially for those with larger chests, and any kind of packing comes with potential complications.
How to Learn More
With stars like Laverne Cox taking center stage, people are finding more relevance to their own interests in transgender information. For those looking to further educate themselves, whether you're transgender yourself or cis and wanting to understand, there are plenty of sources of information online.
The only problem with solo studying is that it is easy to find false information and hold it in high regard, so think about what you're reading and go through multiple sources. Be sure to vet the sources you're looking at and don't be afraid to ask real transgender people any questions you might still have. Remember that none of them are obligated to educate you, especially if your question is rude, but there are plenty of transgender bloggers and vloggers (and plenty of lists around with their information) that won't mind making things more clear.
Thank You for Reading
There are many common misconceptions out there in regards to the lives and times of transgender people, I encourage you to read further on the topic and truly educate yourself.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.