TRANS FACT SHEET – simple language
Prepared by TRANS PROGRAMS at the 519 Church Street Community Centre
What does it mean to be transsexual or transgendered?
A transsexual person sees themselves as the “opposite sex” from that which they were born. (example: “Julie was
born into a boy’s body, but she believes strongly that she is a girl even though her body doesn’t look like other girl’s
If a person identifies themselves as transgendered, it can mean lots of different things. It can mean s/he is a
“crossdresser”, a person who sometimes dresses up in clothing usually worn by people of the opposite sex. It can
refer to a person who sees himself/herself as being both masculine and feminine. It can also refer to anyone who
feels like they won’t let themselves be limited by the things that society says are “bad” for women to do or “wrong”
for men to do. Most societies have rules about the ways that women and men are supposed to behave and these rules
change from culture to culture.
How come some people are transsexual or transgendered ?
No one knows for sure why some people feel that they were supposed to be born as men instead of women, women
instead of men, or why others feel like they are a mix of both genders. Some people who are transsexual or
transgendered knew from their very early childhood that they were different from the other boys and girls around
them. Others say they became aware of these feelings when they were teenagers, or young adults. Sometimes
people try to hide these feelings from everyone including themselves and don’t understand these feelings until they
are much older. Whether a person comes to understand these feelings at an early age or later as adults, these feelings
are important. It takes a lot of courage for someone to be honest about these feelings.
How do trans people change their bodies if they decide they want to?
Some transgendered and transsexual people feel it’s important that other people see them they way they see
themselves. When people who are born male decide to live as women (trans women), or people born female decide
to live as men (trans men), they may take steps to help them live more easily. Sometimes these steps include making
changes to their bodies. Taking all these steps is called “transition”. Transition takes a really long time, and costs a
lot of money. Most people can’t afford all these options, and that’s okay. There’s no “right” way to transition.
Transition is very personal.
If you were born male and you live as a woman, your transition can include:
• changing your name
• growing your hair longer and using make-up
• wearing feminine clothing styles
• taking the hormone estrogen to help your body change to look more female
• removing facial hair and body hair from your body
• having surgeries to change your body to look more female
If you were born female and you live as a man, your transition can include:
• changing your name
• cutting your hair
• wearing masculine clothing styles
• hiding your breasts so people can’t see them
• taking the hormone testosterone to help your body change to look more male
• having surgeries to change your body to look more male
Negative attitudes about transsexual and transgendered people
It is not easy to grow up and live in this world if you have these feelings. Many people hold negative attitudes about
transsexual and transgendered people. These attitudes are also called "transphobia." Even people who are
themselves transgendered or transsexual can sometimes have those negative attitudes about themselves. This is
called “Internalized Transphobia”. Even authority figures that we normally might trust (like our parents, police
officers, and teachers) can have these negative attitudes about trans identities. Transphobia and internalized
transphobia can bring up all kinds of issues. Trans people sometimes:
• Feel bad about themselves
• Feel out of control of their own bodies
• Get picked on by friends and even teachers at school
• Have difficulty being accepted by their family
• Have problems finding or keeping jobs
• Are attacked and insulted by strangers
Support in the community!
Because of all the struggles transsexual and transgendered people face when they first start telling their family and
friends about who they really are, it is very important they get support. If you know a transsexual or transgendered
person, you may suggest they try to meet others who are going through the same things as they are.
For example, they can:
• Join support groups
• Go online with a computer and join internet discussion lists.
• Read books and watch films by and about proud trans-identified people.
Building these relationships can make trans people feel less alone. They may also become a source of support or
inspiration to someone else.
How can I be supportive of the transgendered/transsexual people in my life?
There are many ways to support the transsexual or transgendered friends, family and community members in our
• Use the new name and pronouns they ask us to use.
• If you make a mistake with the name or pronoun, just say you’re sorry!
• Treat them like they’re just a regular person, just like they were before.
• Don’t tell anyone else about this person’s transsexual or transgender identity unless he or she has asked you
to do it.
• If you hear someone making fun of a transsexual or transgendered person, tell them to stop and let them
know it’s not funny.
• Respect their right to be in gender-specific spaces, like women’s washrooms, women’s shelters, etc
Transsexual and Transgender Pride!
It is important to remember that it can feel good to come out as being trans! Once a person comes out about who
they are, they can lead healthy positive lives! There are lots of great reasons to be proud of being trans! Proud
trans people may:
• Have more control over their future!
• Feel more connected with their bodies!
• Fight for their rights!
• Teach others about their lives!
• Begin to have more open and honest relationships!
• Feel more confident!
• Inspire others to be honest too!
Where can I get more information?
Recommended reading List
This site lists some of the best reading material available written by and about transgendered and transsexual people
as well as offers ordering information for these books.
The Transsexual Menace Toronto
This site includes information on Toronto-based trans support groups, human rights advocacy and news items.
Cross-dressing Resources in Canada
This site lists a number of different resources for crossdressers and transvestites across Canada, listed by province.
This site contains an online magazine of health and fitness issues for transsexual and transgendered people.
Canadian and International Links
This site lists a variety of links to other sites detailing everything from surgery information to academic papers on
This site contains hundreds of pictures of transsexual men and women who are successful, not because of how much
money they've made, or how pretty some of them are. These are the successes of men and women who have
survived transsexualism, and gone on to find joy and comfort and peace in their lives.
This site is the internet contact point for the largest, longest-running educational organization serving FTM
transgendered people and transsexual men