Hi there,

I hope this is allowed. I need some help gaining an understanding of trans life and some of the issues that are faced, what defines it and a couple other things. It won’t hurt my feelings if this gets deleted. If so, I won’t bother you again.

To help explain why I’m so clueless, I’m a white 50yo married guy with one young adult hetero child. I have absolutely no real life context to apply and I’m not what you would consider culture-savvy(I don’t follow news/media, have no circle of people, basically, I hang out in the woods by myself). I understand very little of the relative explosion of references that I see on the web.

First, the only thing I think I understand is that gender is considered a social construct, leading to the popularity of choosing your own pronouns( I know there’s much more, I’m using the pronouns as something I often see). Understanding as little as I do, I try to frame discussion in a way that I don’t ever use pronouns to try to keep from offending. I’ll say something like “I think the OP meant this” instead of using a pronoun.

That’s sadly it. I don’t understand anything else but I do have some specific questions that are intended to inform me, not to offend. Please forgive me if I’ve framed these inappropriately. It’s due to ignorance that I’m trying to rectify, not from a place of ridicule.

First, from wikipedia: A transgender person (often shortened to trans person) is someone whose gender identity differs from that typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth.

Question 1 - I think I understand the part where a person disagrees with the gender assigned to them at birth but when I see a transgender person, they seem to be striving to dress and look like the opposite gender. What I mean by this is I rarely see a picture of a person choosing she/her but dressing and having hairstyles more associated with their assigned birth gender. Does this mean that although they were born with certain reproductive organs at birth normally associated with a particular gender, they feel that some part inside them(soul, mind, etc) feels they should have been born with the opposite socially constructed gender?

My second question and this is where I swear I am not aiming to offend. I will try to explain what led me to this thought - When a person chooses to take hormones that their body doesn’t make on it’s own or chooses to have surgery to rebuild sexual organs that they weren’t born with or to add/remove breasts, Is this element of trans life considered a mental illness? The only reason I ask this is I remember watching a documentary where people lived a life in which they felt, for example, that one of their arms didn’t belong to them and they pursued surgery to have a working limb removed. During the documentary, some of the people during therapy and medication were able to change their mindset to the point that they could live with the offending limb but there were some people that were traveling to other countries to have it removed (the doc was based in the US and they couldn’t find a doctor to perform the surgery). The only reason I ask is because of that, My mind goes to body parts that the person doesn’t feel belongs but that they were born with and not something socially attached to them.

There’s much more that I don’t understand but I really feel like this wall of text is enough to unpack, if you choose to do so. Thank you in advance for your time and patience. I appreciate any insight you choose to provide.