When we say trans health, we mean a variety of experiences and unique influences.
As a trans masculine person, I am slowly learning that our health and healing can be an ongoing process. Trans folks may be focussing on binding safely, hormone levels, surgeries, as well as the additional stressors of coming out to friends, family and at work in a cisnormative society (see appendix.). Trans folks may also experience various stressors regarding being misgendered in everyday life, gender presentation, accessing transphobic spaces, and dysphoria which is the anxiety and disconnect between one’s body and the way one understands their identity.
This on top of everyday physical and emotional demands such as family (who may not be accepting), workplace demands as well as other relationships is a lot to deal with. Some trans folks also lie on other intersections – for example, trans folks may be people of color and therefore more prone to experience racism, some people may be of a lower socioeconomic status (as workplaces may discriminate against them), some trans femme/feminine and non binary folks experience sexism, and some may be abled in unique ways which create more barriers for these folks to navigate the world.
This sounds like a lot right now, but by acknowledging some of the ways trans people think about health, cisgender people (see appendix) have a better chance of understanding trans experiences and what thinking about trans health really looks like.
For myself, I often have a hard time explaining why I am shutting down or why I am feeling the way I am. But as a trans person of color, I am starting to learn that these stressors affect me even when I am not consciously aware of what is going on. This does not mean it’s all doom and gloom however. The more we are aware of these issues, (by listening to trans folks communicating what they need), the more we can provide support to the trans folks in our communities.
For myself, healing and health are continuous as I am constantly healing from a society that does not accept my identity. This is just my unique understanding, however.
It is important to remember that not all these experiences apply to all trans people.
The best way to hear peoples’ stories is to listen openly without judgement, and acknowledge that trans health is not always stagnant or linear, but can also be an ongoing journey.
Appendix 1: cisnormative — a society that is predominantly cisgender. (identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. )
Appendix 2: cisgender : people wh identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. For example, if someone is born and the doctor says they are a girl, and they also identify as a girl, they are cisgender.
Rafiki is a 24 year old masters student in Counselling at City University. He is also the volunteer coordinator at the Landing: A community space for gender and sexual minority folks to find supports. Rafiki identifies as a trans masculine and gender fluid individual!