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Do people choose to be trans?

No, just as people cannot choose which eye color they are born with, a person cannot choose to be transgender. Gender identity is just one piece of each individual’s unique makeup, like skin color and height.

For many people, the sex they were assigned at birth matches or aligns with their own internal sense of being a girl or a guy. For others, these things don’t align. And for some it’s more complicated. Think of the people you know whose internal sense of gender matches their body. Did they “choose” to be that way? The choice is not whether to be your gender or not—but how to be who you are. (Keep in mind that gender identity is separate from sexual orientation, which refers to the genders of the people a person is emotionally, romantically and sexually attracted to.)

There are some other things we know. One can’t be “cured” of being trans by doctors or counselors. Professionals can talk through things you may face as a trans person to make you feel more comfortable. They may assist and support you in making decisions like how, whether, and when to come out to family and friends. They can also discuss your options if you’d like to take steps to have your body more physically align with your gender identity. But there’s not a treatment or pill that will actually change your gender identity.

Trans people have to make many choices every day, from the simple to the complex, such as…

  • when and whether to come out as trans
  • whether or not to pass in public as their gender identity, if they can
  • which restroom and/or locker room to use
  • how to be their best self
  • and how to live life

A book that can be helpful for anyone who wants to better understand their own sense of gender is called My Gender Workbook: How to Become a Real Man, a Real Woman, the Real You, or Something Else Entirely by Kate Bornstein. And to hear from transgender teens themselves, check out Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak by Susan Kuklin.

What does LGBTQ mean?

LGBTQ stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning.” For some, the Q stands for “queer.” Heterosexual,…

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