Famous Transgendered People
Deconstructing Gender Identity Disorder
Gender Identity Disorder is a complicated physiological phenomenon that is not to be confused with one's sexual orientation. Sexual orientation refers to one's preference for a male or female mate, and relates specifically to whether one considers themselves to be hetero or homosexual. Gender Identity refers to how one views oneself from a male or female perspective. Those who are born female or male and accept and embrace their gender do not suffer from GID. Those who are born one gender but believe that they were meant to be the opposite gender, may suffer from GID. Many undergo years of counseling to understand the difference between their sexual orientation and their gender identity.
One famous transgendered person, Chaz Bono, the son of 1970s variety show icons Sonny and Cher, explained that as a teen she had confused her feelings of arousal for other females to mean that she was a lesbian. As she embarked on her journey of self-discovery, she realized that she was actually a heterosexual male born into a female's body. It was this revelation that led her to begin the process of transforming herself from female to male through hormone treatments and bilateral mastectomy.
Many individuals are content to leave their transformation at that stage and actually live with both male and female characteristics such as having both breasts removed yet maintaining a vagina. Still others undergo the final, drastic step of full transformation from one gender to another. The process comes after years of psychological examination, hormone treatments and surgeries. The reconstruction of one's sexual organs is the final step for many, in transforming themselves into the gender with which they have always most identified. In fact, many report being aware that they suffered from GID in their preteen years, some as young as four years of age.
In order to receive a diagnosis of GID, a patient must experience a strong and persistent cross-gender identification; a strong and persistent discomfort with the gender into which they were born and feelings of inappropriateness with their birth gender; the gender identification disturbance may not be in relation to other anomalies such as hermaphroditism; the disturbance causes clinically significant distress in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.
It is speculated that GID is more prevalent in men than in women but this hub will examine both male and female transgenders.
Born Richard Raskind in 1934, Renee Richards underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1975. Before that, he was an accomplished tennis player and had earned his MD from the University of Rochester. The decision to become a woman was a difficult one for Dr. Raskind. In fact, before committing to having the surgery, he married and fathered one son. After undergoing gender reassignment surgery, Renee Richards, as she was now called, focused her career on professional tennis, twice becoming a semi-finalist at the U.S. Open in mixed-doubles competition. Before taking the U.S. Open by storm, she first had to overcome the ban placed upon her by the U.S. Tennis Association. Her case was heard by the New York Supreme Court in 1977 after which they ruled in her favor. She was inducted into the USTA Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000.
Calpernia Sarah Addams
Calpernia might never have been considered an actual celebrity had it not been for the unfortunate history that launched her headlong into activism. Calpernia was in the United States Navy and Marine Corps when she came out as a transgendered person. In 1999 she began dating Army PFC, Barry Winchell, who quickly became the object of ridicule for his relationship with her. The harassment escalated until finally culminating in Winchell’s murder a short time later. It was his murder that led to the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. Since the murder, Calpernia formed her own production company focusing work on educational pieces that draw awareness to LGBT issues, most specifically, those surrounding gender identification. Her story has been the subject of movies, documentaries and television series and her work has enabled her to collaborate with some of the most influential names in Hollywood, including Salma Hayak, Jane Fonda and Glenn Close.
Born Chastity Bono to her uber-famous parents, 1970s icons, Sonny and Cher, Chaz realized in his early teens that he was attracted to women. Originally he assumed that this meant he was gay, but a few years later, he realized that he had been confusing sexual orientation with gender identity. Chaz now considers himself to be a heterosexual male. He has undergone bilateral mastectomy and been taking female hormones, but has yet to complete his full transformation. He is saving money for the construction of a penis, and despite being very committed to becoming fully male, he has given the process the respectful consideration it deserves. Chaz is living life as man today. He has become a tireless advocate for the transgendered community and has been involved in serious romantic relationships with women. He was most recently and notably a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, exposure he used to promote a positive image for the transgendered community. His father died tragically in a skiing accident in 1998 , but his mother, Cher, remains a steadfast, ardent supporter of her child's decision to embrace his true gender identity and live the life he was meant to live.
Stephen Ira Beatty
Stephen Ira was originally born Kathlyn Elizabeth Bening Beatty in 1992, to Hollywood royalty. His parents, Annette Bening and Warren Beatty have steadfastly, if at times, reluctantly, supported his decision to transition from female to male. This transition has included a female hormone regimen and removal of both breasts, but as of yet, Stephen Ira has not undergone penile construction. Unconfirmed reports have suggested that he may be having second thoughts about going through with the complete transformation. For now, he seems to be enjoying his life of activism and is currently and openly dating another man.
Born Robert Arquette in 1968, Alexis is the sibling of actors David, Patricia and Roseanna Arquette. He also has a brother, Richmond. He has made a living starring in low budget films and was the subject of a documentary that chronicled his transition from male to female. His film debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2007. Alexis, also known professionally as Eva Destruction, does not discuss her “private parts,” and seems content to keep the world guessing about what lies beneath her gaudy and sometimes flamboyant attire.
If you are a member of the LGBT community and/ or are seeking support in coming to terms with questions surrounding sexual orientation or gender identity, you are not alone. Please consider the following links to help locate the support you need.
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.
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