Transgender means that a person’s sex does not correspond to how he or she feels or behaves.
There are various forms of transgender:
- Some people combine characteristics of men and women. They identify themselves as a man and woman or neither of these.
- Some transgender people sometimes identify themselves as a man and sometimes as a woman.
- Others behave and dress as the other sex.
- Lastly, there are also people who want to change sex. A transgender person can change sex through surgery and hormones, if he or she wishes. Transgender people can choose whether or not they want to have treatment and how far they want to go with their treatment.
A transgender person does not have a problem or a disease.
In Belgium, discrimination against transgender people is forbidden by law. It is forbidden by law to treat people differently and to exclude or place limitations on them because of their gender identity.
Discovering that you are transgender
Most people find it very confusing to be transgender. Give yourself time. Avoid other people’s expectations so you can discover what is important for you.
Some people think that they are mad, others are unsure about who they are or are very unhappy with their body.
If you have difficulties with your thoughts and feelings you can talk about these with a specialised healthcare professional.
Telling others that you are transgender
There is no right or wrong way to tell someone that you are transgender. Think about how and when you want to tell people, the reactions you expect and how you see the future.
You do not have to tell everyone immediately. For instance, you could first tell a healthcare professional or another transgender person. After this you could tell your best friends, parents and family for instance, and then other people.
Next, you might also change your appearance or name. Some people find it very difficult to change the way they see you. It is important that your family and friends understand what transgender means and are able to ask someone questions.
Many transgender people do not like their body. This means that they find sexuality a difficult subject. This may change after treatment with hormones or an operation. Transgender people will then usually be more satisfied with their body.
Hormones have a great impact on sexual desire. Some people have a higher sexual desire and others have a lower one. Male hormones usually increase sexual desire and female hormones reduce desire. An operation may increase sexual desire again.
Protection against STIs and HIV
Trans men (people with female genitals but a male gender identity):
- Use a condom during vaginal sex and anal sex. There are condoms in all sizes. You can also use a dental dam instead of a condom.
- If you still have a vaginal opening, you can also use a female condom.
- You should also use a water-based (no oil) lubricant during anal sex. This prevents the condom from tearing.
Trans women (people with male genitals but a female gender identity):
- Use a condom during vaginal sex and anal sex. You can also use a female condom during vaginal sex.
- Always use a lubricant, even during vaginal sex. This prevents the condom from tearing.
- Take care with anal sex because the skin of the perineum is thin.