Lecturer clarifies gender spectrum
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 27, 2012 00:09
The Rainbow Center’s Out to Lunch Series continued on Wednesday when Irwin Krieger, a licensed clinical social worker, came in to give advice to transgender teens and their parents. Krieger has over 25 years of experience working as a therapist for the LGBT community and practices in New Haven. His work has recently been more exclusive to transgender teens and their families.
Krieger’s lecture began by outlining the basic concepts and the terminology associated with gender identity. The primary idea behind this was to shed light on the idea that gender is not a discrete determiner but more so a spectrum on which people fall. There can be individuals who are solely masculine or solely feminine, but there can also be genderfluid individuals who move between genders searching for what feels right to them. These individuals make up the transgender population. It is key to note that being a member of the transgender population doesn’t necessarily make any implications with regards to sexual orientation. Members of a biological gender may still be and often are attracted to members of the opposite biological gender. Having said this, many transgender individuals are often homosexual, bisexual, asexual or of other orientations but it is critical not make any judgments with regards to orientation.
The next portion of Krieger’s lecture shifted its focus and examined how an individual’s discordance with their biologically assigned sex can lead to family stress. Often times, transgender individuals experience high levels of family rejection. Krieger presented some horrifying statistics to quantify the extent of how real and awful the problem of family rejection is for transgender individuals versus cisgender (the opposite of transgender, individuals whose gender identity matches their biological gender) individuals.
Transgender individuals attempt suicide 8.4 times as often as cisgender individuals, are diagnosed with depression 5.9 times as often, abuse illegal drugs 3.4 times as often, and engage in unprotected sexual intercourse 3.4 times as often.
In these situations, what makes matters worse is that the parent’s confusion leads them to fearing exaggerated outcomes for their children. Parents fear severe harm, harassment, and bleak futures for their children and while their fears are justified to a minor extent, it has been proven that parents undoubtedly assume worse than what reality holds.
Krieger emphasized that teenage transgender individuals are in fact very informed and insistent people. They understand the continuous nature of the gender spectrum and understand that their confused, fearful and disbelieving parents are shortsighted in their view of societal perception of being transgender. Despite a rapidly changing world, the social lens on accepting transgender individuals seems to be behind the curve.