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I think I might be transgender. What’s going on?

You’re not alone. There are actually thousands of people in the U.S. (and millions worldwide) that were born with genitals from one sex but feel like their internal sense of gender doesn’t line up. Some people who are born with a penis have a deep inner sense that says, “But I’m really a girl!” And some people are born with a vulva and have a deep inner sense that says, “But I’m really a boy!” They may become aware of these feelings as small children or later as adolescents or adults.

Lots of people confuse being transgender with being lesbian, gay or bisexual. But they are different. Our sexual orientation is about who we’re attracted to sexually and romantically. Being transgender has to do with our gender identity—our sense of being a girl, a guy, neither or a little bit of both. For example, it’s possible to be gay and transgender, and it’s possible to be heterosexual and transgender.

There are hundreds of words people use to describe their gender. Here are some examples: trans, transgender, transsexual, trans*, trans-warrior, male to female (M-to-F and MTF), female to male (F-to-M and FTM), cross-dresser, gender queer, differently gendered, female impersonator, queen, femme, femme queen and more.

Like other transgender people, you may feel like you’re the only one. Some transgender people may feel confused, or even sad or angry. Unfortunately, our society still has a long way to go in terms of understanding all of the different genders that exist.

People who are transgender may express themselves in different ways. Some people who are born biologically male may just want to be able to wear women’s clothing every once in a while. Others want to wear women’s clothing all the time. Some people really feel like their biology contradicts who they are inside. Some may choose to take hormones and/or have surgery to change their bodies to match how they feel inside.

If you are already taking hormones, it’s important to do this with a health care provider. Hormones that people purchase “on the street” aren’t regulated and may contain other ingredients besides what you need. Also, remember to use clean needles when using hormones since used needles transmit infections, such as HIV and hepatitis. There are inexpensive trans-friendly health clinics in most large cities where you can get safe supplies and good health care from trained professionals. Although it’s also good to know that you may encounter a waiting list.

To find a therapist who can understand what you are going through, if you live in a city with a LGBTQ health center you can contact them to see if they have a therapist on staff or to see if they have a therapist they can refer you to. If there is a community center for LGBTQ youth in your area, they may also have a list of LGBTQ friendly therapists, support groups or counselors. The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association maintains a list of LGBTQ friendly providers as well.

If you still can’t find a provider in your area, here are some general tips for finding an LGBTQ friendly provider in your area as well as tips on coming out to your current health care provider. The following websites are also good places to start exploring your feelings and finding others who you can talk to:

You’ll see that you are not alone and that there are places to find the support you need to accept and love who you are.

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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