What is the exact definition of transgender

"I was not born in the wrong body": About the everyday life of a trans woman

About the everyday life of a trans woman

There are no precise figures on how many people in Germany identify as transgender. The feeling that one's gender identity is mismatched with that assigned at birth doesn't make it any less real. Stigmata, discrimination and violence are just as real.

In Brazil, the openly right-wing anti-LGBT politician Bolsonaro just won the presidential election - only shortly after the US government proposed a strict gender definition that would legally eradicate transgender people. A sign was set with the hashtags #WontBeErased and #TransRightsAreHumanRights, but the threats remain. Not only from governments and laws, but above all from us fellow human beings. Living with fear is just as little new as social intolerance.

The coming-out is therefore usually more than a one-off announcement. For many, it's a daily balancing act, a lifelong process. Berlin actress Gérsande Spelsberg writes for us about everyday life and why it was not born in the wrong body.

Gender identity? What does that actually mean? It describes the gender role to which one feels personally assigned, regardless of socially exemplified and acquired heteronormative ideas of man or woman. It is defined with terms such as LGBTQ +. The T here stands for "Trans", and I am one of them. I am a trans woman and have been in the middle of my transition from man to woman for about two years.

Since then I have visited my psychotherapist every week, who has been of great help to me in discussing everyday matters relating to my transition, but also explaining upcoming visits to the authorities and establishing appropriate contacts in order to finally change my first name and civil status by court order.

Supervised by my gynecologist, I started with estrogen hormone therapy and am currently in a very interesting and exciting time, in which my body and my consciousness are changing a little more every day. Among other things, hormone therapy plays a role in the distribution of fat in the body, and suddenly there are curves where there were none before. I have become more sensitive, more sensitive and more emotional.

Born in the wrong body, as people used to say, I am not. If I only have one body, how can it be wrong? I would rather describe it as physically and psychologically imbalanced and with an incongruence in my sexual identity. An everlasting uncertainty, always mentally trapped in a female body, but trapped in the mirror image of a man. This increasingly resulted in a loss of one's own attractiveness and inevitably impaired libido with partners.

At first under the pressure that I came out as a trans woman a little late at the age of 38, I'm much more relaxed now. It wasn't easy, but it was honest. A hidden truth that I lived with for so long to make a reality. To have no more secrets and to be honest with myself and the people who are important to me, my family and friends.

The reaction of those around me was initially concerned. Knowing that as a trans woman I might have a harder time in our society and maybe a kind of farewell to the person who was close to you, up to and including "This is not a big surprise" as a reaction of my sister, who of course likes me best knows, everyone understood it very quickly and reassured me that I had chosen the right and only true path for me.

The change of name and civil status took a while and required various visits and interviews with psychologists, who independently of one another and based on countless questions, determined that I neither have a personality disorder nor possibly transvestism. Transvestism is understood to mean men who like to wear women's clothing every now and then.

The change was a big event for me. It was my escape from the feeling of illegality. Gone are the stress of being late for an appointment and being called "Mr. Spelsberg". To finally be addressed with the right pronoun for me, to feel recognized and respected. After this official visit to the authorities, it is up to each person to decide how far they meet their own ideal of femininity with the help of surgical interventions.

Not so long ago, gender reassignment operations were called sex reassignment surgery, although the surgeon is a surgeon and not a magician. Not every trans person decides in favor of this operation, because here too it is absolutely individual to what extent one's own definition of gender identity goes hand in hand with surgical interventions.

It is important to understand that this is not about conventional cosmetic surgery, but about physically adapting options such as breast augmentation, gender reassignment surgery in the form of a neo-vagina and possible facial feminizing surgical interventions.

For some years now, gender reassignment surgery has no longer been a prerequisite for changing names and civil status. Germany, together with a few countries (such as Canada, Thailand, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, France, Portugal and Spain) is currently a pioneer in terms of the legal basis and the partial support of the health insurance companies to enable a transition.

Unfortunately, this is still different in many countries. Under the administration of Donald Trump, a legislative proposal has just been drafted that assigns gender exclusively and irrevocably at the birth of a person. Thus 0.7% of the American population who are transident - in numbers 1.5 million US citizens - are robbed of their identity. Trans rights are human rights or #TransRightsAreHumanRights, this hashtag has been actively circulating on the internet since then.

With this conscious step of deciding for myself, I have catapulted myself to the edge of society and regularly feel the hatred that comes towards me not only from men but also from women. Hate why? What am I taking away from whom? Sayings like "You don't know what it means to be a woman" or "Do you think estrogen makes you a woman?" up to "You can't understand the monthly pain of your period" I had to regularly hear from strangers but unfortunately also from acquaintances. None of this is my wish or goal.

I will never and never would like to be seen as a biological woman. I'm a trans woman, which means for me that I don't belong to any binary gender. Transphobia is the general term used to describe the fear of deviations from the norms of the physical and social sex of men or women, since transidentity calls heteronormativity into question. Transmisogyny, on the other hand, is described as an additional layer of misogyny. She reduces the transition to sexual motives and sees them as promiscuous.

In our heteronormative society, in which being different is largely not accepted, it is all the more important to redefine gender roles. It's okay if your son would like to don a princess costume or your daughter a Batman costume. There's more than just pink for girls and light blue for boys - when you mix the two they make purple.

It is our job to represent genders apart from the binary in all their facets.

English version

What's it really like to be transgender?

There are no exact figures on how many people in Germany identify as transgender. That doesn't make the feeling of the sex assigned at birth not matching the gender identity any less real. Just as real are stigma, discrimination and violence against individuals identifying as transgender.

In Brazil, openly right-wing anti-LGBT politician Bolsonaro has recently won the presidential election - only shortly after the US government proposed a narrow gender definition, that would define transgender out of existence under federal civil rights law. While hashtags like #WontBeErased or #TransRightsAreHumanRights set a signal, the threats remain. Not only by government authorities and laws, but above all by us fellow human beings. Living life with fear, just as society’s tolerance, is nothing new.

Therefore, the coming out usually goes beyond a one-time announcement. For many, it is a daily balancing act, a life-long process. Berlin-based actress Gérsande Spelsberg writes for Vogue about this everyday life and why she wasn't born in the "wrong" body.

Gender identity? What does that actually mean? It refers to which gender role one feels personally assigned to - independent of the socially lived and taught heteronormative ideas of man or woman - defined in terms such as LGBTQ +. The T in this stands for "trans", and I'm one of them. I am a trans woman.

After two years, I am now in the middle of my transition from male to female. Ever since, I have visited my psychotherapist on a weekly basis, who has been a great help to me in discussing everyday matters related to my transition, but also in explaining upcoming administrative procedures and establishing the necessary contacts to finally change my first name and civil status by court order.

With the help of my gynecologist, I started an estrogen hormone therapy. Currently, I am in a very interesting and exciting time, in which my body and my consciousness are constantly changing - every day a little more. The hormone therapy also plays a role in the distribution of fat in the body: Where before there was nothing, now suddenly there are curves. I've become more sensitive, more gentle and more emotional.

Born in the "wrong" body, as they used to say, I'm not. If I only got one body, how can it be wrong? I'd rather describe it as physically and psychologically imbalanced and incongruent with my sexual identity. A permanent insecurity, mentally always in a female body, but trapped in the mirror reflecting a man. This increasingly lead to a loss of my own attractiveness and inevitably affected my libido with partners.

While at the beginning still feeling pressure from the fact that at age 38, I had my coming out as a trans woman quite late, now I am much more relaxed. It wasn't easy, but it was honest. A hidden truth I've lived with for so long, becoming reality. To have no more secrets, and to be honest with myself and the people I care about, my family and my friends.

My environment initially reacted with concern. Recognizing that, as a trans woman, it might be tougher for me in society, and perhaps they also saw this as a kind of farewell to the person that was close to them. My sister, who of course knows me best, responded with "This is no big surprise". After all, everyone quickly realized and encouraged me that I had chosen the right and only true path for myself.

The change of name and civil status took a while and required various visits and questionings from psychologists, who independently from each other and on the basis of countless questions determined that I neither had a personality disorder nor that it was just a case of transvestism. Transvestism is used to describe men who like to wear women's clothing from time to time.

To me, accomplishing this change was a major event. It was my escape, out of the feeling of illegality and forbiddenness. The stress of coming too late to an appointment and being called in as "Mr. Spelsberg" was over. Finally, being addressed with the right pronoun, feeling seen and respected. After this official procedure with the authorities, it is up to each person to decide how far he or she wants to meet his or her own ideal of femininity through surgical interventions.

Not that long ago, sex reassignment surgeries were called "gender conversion" in Germany, although the surgeon is a doctor, not a magician. Not every trans person decides to undergo this operation because here, too, it is absolutely individual to what extent surgical interventions go along with the personal definition of gender identity.

It is important to understand that these are not conventional cosmetic surgeries, but rather physically aligning procedures, such as breast augmentation, a neo-vagina surgery and possibly face-feminization surgeries.

For some years now, the gender-equalizing surgery has no longer been considered a necessity for a change of name and civil status in Germany. When it comes to the legal basis and health care providing financial assistance, alongside a few other countries (such as Canada, Thailand, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, France, Portugal and Spain), Germany is currently pioneering in allowing a successful transition.

Unfortunately, this is still different in many countries. Under the administration of Donald Trump, a legislative proposal has just been drafted which exclusively and unalterably assigns gender at the time of birth of a human being in the USA. Thus, 0.7% of the American population who are transident - 1.5 million US citizens - would be deprived of their identity. Trans rights are human rights or also #TransRightsAreHumanRights, since then, the hashtag’s circulation rate on the internet has risen - with good reason.

With this conscious step to make a choice in favor of myself, to ultimately choose “me”, I have catapulted myself to the edge of society and regularly feel the hatred that comes towards me not only from men, but also from women. Hate what for? What am I taking away and from whom? "You don't know what it means to be a woman" or "Do you think estrogen makes you a woman" up to "You can't understand the monthly pain of a period" - statements like these I had to listen to regularly , from strangers but unfortunately also from acquaintances. None of this is my intention or my goal.

I will never be and don’t want to be seen as a biological woman. I'm a trans woman, which to me means that I don’t identify with a gender on the binary. Transphobia is the general term for fear of deviations from the norms of the physical and social gender of a man or woman, since trans-identity calls heteronormativity into question. Trans-misogyny, on the other hand, is described as an additional layer of misogyny and reduces the transition to sexual motivations, perceiving it as something promiscuous.

In our heteronormative society, where being different is largely unacceptable, it is all the more important to redefine gender roles. It's okay if your son wants to wear a princess costume or your daughter wants to wear a batman costume. There's more than just pink for girls and blue for boys - if you mix both, you get purple.

It is our mission to destigmatize and represent gender identities apart from the binary.

More on this topic:

  • Transgender model Anjali Lama breaks gender boundaries: Transgender model Anjali Lama was featured in the eleventh anniversary edition of Vogue India. Their moving history documents the change over time. More here!
  • Chella Man: Deaf, transgender and now under contract with IMG. As the first deaf, transgender man, activist, artist and model Chella Man recently signed a contract with the same agency as Gigi Hadid, Kaia Gerber and Co. He says: "This is just the beginning!" More here!
  • Does fashion still need gender boundaries ?: Masayuki Ino's unisex label Doublet has just won the LVMH Prize, one of the most coveted awards in the fashion industry. To mark the occasion, Vogue spoke to the designer and other creatives who are responsible for the increasing dissolution of gender boundaries in fashion. More here!