June is an important time to celebrate the accomplishments of the 2SLGBTQ+ community while also reflecting on the work that still needs to be done. It is also a time for our community to come together in solidarity with the 2SLGBTQ+ community and show the world that WCH is United with Pride.
With a mission for a healthier, more equitable world, WCH is proud to support access to care and treatment for people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. Through WCH’s Transition-Related Surgery (TRS) program, for example, we’ve been able to provide life affirming care to transgender people across Ontario in hopes of making the transition to their chosen identity seamless.
But do you have to medically transition to be valid in your identity? The answer is no; reproductive organs do not dictate gender.
There is a long history of trans-related health care beyond gender-affirming surgeries. Mental health care, hormone therapies and reproductive care are becoming more commonplace as medicine evolves. As medical professionals, we recognize people as individuals and equip them with the resources, education, and tools they need to affirm their identity.
What’s the difference between sex and gender?
According to the Canadian Institute of Health Research, sex refers to a set of biological attributes in humans and animals, and is primarily associated with physical and physiological features. Sex is also usually categorized as female or male, but there is variation in the biological attributes that comprise sex and how those attributes are expressed.
According to the same source, gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, expressions and identities of girls, boys, women, men and gender diverse people. Gender identity is not confined to a binary and is not static, as it exists along a continuum and can change over time.
When it comes to trans people trying to live their lives as the gender they identify with, many cisgendered people are quick to ask them about their medical transition, if they’ve even had one. While it’s offensive to ask anyone about their reproductive organs or biological makeup when discussing their gender, it also ties gender to biology and reproduction which can be harmful to Trans people.
This can mean that biologically, we are female, male, intersex or a variation of biological attributes while socially, we are women, men, non-binary or gender diverse, regardless of biology or reproductive organs.
Why is this important?
At its core, Pride was born out of protest to protect our most vulnerable populations and afford them the space to live liberated in their identity without fear of persecution. As we see an alarming resurgence of anti-trans rhetoric sweeping the world, standing United with Pride is just as important as ever. Reclaiming these liberated identities and ensuring the safety of those who are practicing their most honest form of self-expression is at the forefront of the movement, especially for trans individuals.
Trans people today are at a higher risk for stigma, violence, harassment, discrimination, and fatal outcomes, regardless if they’ve medically transitioned or not.
- Trans women are stigmatized and discriminated against when trying use bathrooms and shelters that match their gender identity, despite the high instances of violence against trans women in men’s spaces
- Trans people and gender diverse people are more likely to experience harassment and violence in public places and more likely to experience sexual assault compared to cisgendered, heterosexual people
- Health outcomes continue to be poorer for trans people due to stigma in the healthcare system and lack of safe access to physical and mental healthcare
Considering gender is a social construct, can be fluid and exists on a continuum that can change over time, someone’s anatomy or biology has very little to do with their gender identity and is not what makes someone a woman. If you look at the diverse population of women – both trans and cisgendered women – across the world, it’s obvious that women come in all different shapes, sizes and presentations. Some trans women will grow out their hair, dress in more feminine attire, wear makeup, or express their gender identity through physicality or aesthetics. Some cisgendered women will dress more masculine, cut their hair short, or express themselves more androgynously. Both are still women.
There is no one right way to look, express yourself, or live . Simply knowing that you are living your life authentically, should be accepted and celebrated.
This Pride and everyday beyond, we celebrate our similarities and differences, and renew our commitment to lead with love, compassion, and unabashed Pride, especially for those with the 2SLGBTQ+ community that might need it most. While no one can ever be perfect, we can always aspire to be better. As a collective, we stand United with Pride.
For transgendered people interested in, considering, or scheduled for gender affirming care, WCH’s TRS program is hosting a Virtual Seminar Series offering information for those making decisions regarding gender affirming care and provides an accessible pathway for education about surgeries, surgical techniques, outcomes and the patient experience.
The seminars, hosted virtually and in person, will focus on upper surgery (chest and breast) and vaginoplasty, and will be help in March, June, September and December. Registration is required. For more information or to register, visit the seminar series page here.
For all information relating to our TRS program, please visit our TRS web hub here.
WCH: United with Pride
All information about this year’s Pride programming can be found on our regularly updated United with Pride Web Hub.