If you feel that the body you were born with does not match your gender identity, you might be transgender. Transgender is not a sexual orientation. Depending on who you are attracted to, you could call yourself gay, straight, bi or pan as a transgender person.

Different names

Transgender is an umbrella term for people who do not identify with the gender they were given at birth:

  • Not everyone who is born with the body of a boy feels and sees themselves as a boy
  • Or, for example, you might be born with the body of a girl, but you feel yourself to be a man and you want to live as a man
  • Or you were born with a male body, but you feel partly male, partly female, or you think of yourself as female neither male.

Transgender in itself is not a sexual orientation. Trans men and trans women can be straight, gay, bi or pan. People who do not feel they fit into the male/female, gay/straight/bi boxes, often call themselves 'queer'. People who do not feel completely masculine or feminine often call themselves non-binary.

Going into transition

Some people also use the term transsexual instead of transgender. The term transsexual is a medical term for people who want to adjust their body and their sex through surgery. Not all transgender people want to be in medical transition and not all people in transition want a 'full' transition. The latter usually means that someone keeps the genitals (penis or vagina) they had at birth. 

This is not the only way in which transgender people 'go into transition', or adapt their body and life to live in the gender role that suits their own feelings. Transition also involves, for example: wearing different clothes and hairstyles, adopting a new name, wanting to be called "he" instead of "she" (or vice versa, or "they" if they identify as non-binary), taking hormone supplements, sex reassignment surgeris, such as breast and uterine removal (for trans men) or plastic surgery. 

Sexual health and pleasure

Transitioning usually has a positive effect on the sexual wellbeing of transgender people:

  • As soon as their body and gender identity (better) fits their own feelings, trans men and trans women can enjoy their own body and having sex better
  • Better self-confidence means that transgender people are better able to live up to their wishes and boundaries when they have sex

On the other hand, the sex reassignment treatment has side effects:

  • Female sex hormones can reduce the sex drive of trans women
  • Sex change operations to the penis or vagina may lead to a loss of sensation and therefore less sexual pleasure
  • After surgery on your genitals, you will be extra vulnerable to STIs and HIV for several months, until your skin has healed
trans man holding a trans pride flag

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Andy (17) discovered he is a boy