blog on her motorcycle-travels) mentioned that she's not sure what "transgendered" means and she asked me to explain it. Because some of you are in the same boat, I'm going to address the subject. Actually, I'm eager to be understood and, since few people have personally met a transsexual (we're rare, despite the disproportionate media-attention we attract), putting out this information is a public-service.
The basics are this: "transgendered" is an umbrella term for several different types of gender non-conformity. Transsexuals, like me, are people whose gender-identity differs from what others commonly perceive it to be.
The most important aspect that needs to be understood is that we know who we are: we don't want to become the opposite sex; we are the opposite sex. The problem is getting others to see and accept us that way.
Gender is a complex subject, more than most people realize. It isn't answered by biology because humans can have physical attributes of both genders. There are people, now called "intersexed," who possess biological gender-characteristics that are either ambiguous or belong to both sexes. The South African runner, Caster Semenya, who was tested last year and found to have both female and male biological characteristics, is a good example. Biology doesn't create two simple categories into which you can drop everyone. There is wide diversity in nature which makes categorization difficult and the process of defining gender is always heavily freighted by culture.
Different societies have defined gender differently: did you know that there are several societies (including American Indian) that recognize three genders?
The current science on transsexualism focuses on development during pregnancy. Hormones, which regulate a baby's development, cause the growth of a male/female brain but later, for several reasons, the hormones switch and start developing the rest of a body as if it were the other gender.
Not all transsexuals are intersexed, but some are. I, for example, appear to have male genitalia externally but its internal development wasn't normal; after being observed by doctors for several years as a child, I had surgery when I was 10 years old to internally change things in that area. A four-inch scar remains there as a reminder.
I know this is a lot of information to absorb, so I'm going to stop here. I'll touch on some other aspects of the subject in the future and, if you like, share some more personal history with you. I welcome any and all questions and hope I can help you understand this better.