There are two types of transsexuals: female-to-male (FTM) and male-to-female (MTF). The first gender represents the sex that they were born as, and the second is their goal.
Transsexual people aren't transvestites or trannies (these are degrading terms invented by the porn industry and I highly discourage their use), perverts, freaks or aliens or whatever. We're normal people that deserve just as much respect as anyone else.
Transsexualism is NOT a psychological condition. It's a medical condition. A birth defect. It is scientifically proven that transsexualism occurs in the womb. Transsexuals have had this dysphoria their entire lives and it only becomes stronger.
This feeling of being trapped in the wrong body is a matter of life and death, and I'm being very serious.
50% of ALL transsexuals attempt suicide before age 20. I should know. I was part of that 50%.
And 50% die before age 30. Main cause of death? Suicide.
Why do transsexual people have such a high rate of suicide, depression, anxiety, and self injury? Not only because of their unbearable feelings of being trapped in the wrong body, but because society sucks and most people are extremely ignorant of transgendered and transsexual people. Ignorance, inevitably, leads to fear which leads to hate. There is a LOT of prejudice against us and the world needs to be educated more about it.
In America, supposably land of the "free", only TWELVE states out of 50 protect us against hate crimes in housing, marketing, employment, insurance, social security, and much much more.
Many states also don't recognize their reassigned sex in marriages.
A few states such as Ohio won't even allow a legal change of sex on the birth certificate.
But society is much worse than the law. One infamous hate crime you should know about is the rape and murder of pre-op transman Brandon Teena. Just watch the movie about him, Boys Don't Cry. It's a great movie, but very sad.
Even in the LGBT community, people aren't very understanding.
Our friends leave us, our families abandon us.
Our suicide and homelessness and unemployment rates are incredibly high.
Transition is extremely expensive and though insurance does cover some, we still have to pay a LOT out of our own pocket.
Many of us never get the money to transition.
Many of us never get the courage or support and decide to conform to society's expectations--live their life as a fake and suffer the consequences, only to die from the stress in the form of heart attack, stroke, or suicide.
In the DSM V, transgenderism is still listed as a mental illness though most transgenderists tend to be fine with the way they are and it's transsexuals that are uncomfortable with their bodies (however there are transgenders who are transsexual to only a slight degree and there are also androgynous people) but either way it is NOT a mental illness, I cannot stress it enough. Instead though they listed it as "Harry Benjamin's Syndrome" or "Gender Dysphoria." Muh...
Transsexualism is a birth defect that deserves just as much attention as any other defect people are born with. No one should have to go through such a difficult feat, especially not alone like so many of us do. No one should have to die struggling just to be, for the very first time in their lives, themselves.
Ugh, and don't forget what happens to those poor transwomen in prisons! And not to mention difficulty with public restrooms. Something as simple as locker rooms and bathrooms can turn into a complicated nightmare. It's amazing how much society stresses gender roles.
About transition. Transition is a complicated, long, painful, and expensive process transsexuals must go through. I stress the word MUST. It's a matter of SELF-PRESERVATION.
But to break it down for now into the basics: there's gender therapy, hormone reassignment therapy (HRT), the real life test (RLT) and finally sexual reassignment surgery (SRS).
Gender therapy is how transsexuals are diagnosed, and ultimately get put on the waiting list for hormones.
HRT is when the patient takes estrogen (for MTFS) or testosterone (for FTMS) which results in dramatic changes in the body, such as changes in fat patterns, lean body mass, sex drive, stops the period (for FTMS), grows breasts (MTFS), stops breast production (FTM), sprouts facial hair (FTM), deepens voice (FTM), changes the texture of your skin, lengthens the clitoris (FTM), I could go on and on and on. hormones are usually taken via injection (the best and safest way to do it, in my opinion) but there are a few other methods.
The RLT (real life test) is a major step in the transition period. After a little while of taking hormones, the transsexual is expected to go "stealth"--basically, blending in with their like-gendered peers (meaning, FTMs for example, live life completely as male)--and if they decide that they aren't really trans, they stop hormone intake and that is that. After six months, however, the effects of the hormones become permanent.
After at least a year of hormones and after passing the RLT transsexuals must gain permission from their gender therapist to be approved for surgery. FTMs have "top" and "bottom" surgery while MTFs have just "bottom" surgery along with a shaving of the adam's apple to feminize the voice.
FTM surgery, in a nutshell, includes reducing the size of breasts and shaping them so they look like pecs, and a cosmetic surgery involving sculpting the lengthened clitoris into a functioning penis. There are two types of bottom surgeries--metoidioplasty and phalloplasty. Both have advantages and disadvantages, neither are actually very good, but personally I would go for metoidioplasty instead--phalloplasty involves pumps and nasty scars, which is too freaky and unnatural for me.
MTF surgery is much easier actually, shaping the penis into a vagina that's capable of even orgasming. Even during sexual intercourse you can't tell that the person was ever born male, even if the organ is examined by professionals no one can tell! I envy the success rate of MTF surgery vs. FTM surgery.
And finally, a couple definitions for ya:
transgender is an umbrella term for androgynes, bi/pan/a-gendered people, cross dressers (NOT transvestites, thanks), and other gender-variant people. Transsexuals are not part of this group because they aren't changing their gender and are extremely uncomfortable with their appearance, unlike many transgenders.
transvestites and trannies don't exist, except for in the porn industry. Only use these terms if you want to get your ass whooped.
androgynes are people who feel like they're both male and female, or neither, but not always at the same time or anything. Sometimes they feel like they're a man, sometimes a woman, and it's very difficult coping with it since no matter what your body looks like it won't fit you 100% of the time.
Anyway, I hope that anyone who may have read this has been more educated about transsexuals and transgendered people and therefore, if not understanding, at least accepting by being informed about what we have to go through and such and such.