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Tips for Intersex/Transgender Inclusion
This document is intended to help the mainstream community to better accept and accommodate intersexed and transsexual persons. This is not a medical document, but an expression of desires which we would like to see met. To comment on or contribute to this work-in-progress please contact IT People by e-mail.
About one in every 2000 people are born intersexed, and many more are transsexual. Transsexualism is a form of intersexism, where the "ambiguity" lies in the person's brain or psyche—having a brain structure resembling the gender opposite what their genitalia might indicate. This is a minority group and, in some states, has legal protection from harassment and requirements for adequate facilities. Unfortunately, very few people recognize this fact or have the understanding to accommodate IT people. There are many services out there for youths and others, but very few are IT friendly. These services already in existence must be made to accommodate IT people, because IT people need these services just as much as anyone else. With training and a willing staff, any business or organization can accommodate IT people. Primary targets for this type of accommodation are youth centers, schools, medical facilities, social services, police organizations. If you are working on making your organization IT friendly and have a known population of IT people, maximize your results by empowering IT people, especially youths, and get them involved by giving them say in what services are provided. When working with youth, let them guide your actions—they ask, you provide and guide—get them invested, let the entity be theirs; be open to their desires, needs, and wishes so that they will be involved and feel a part of what is going on.
Intersexed and transgendered people have the same basic needs as anyone else. These basic needs of survival—food, shelter and clothing—and the basic needs to live and function in society—stability, work, education, support, and a network of resources.
Making Youth Centers and Other Places IT Friendly
Hormones — Transgendered youth need hormones in order to become outwardly who they are inside. Hormones are typically expensive for individual youths to obtain, which forces many youths to seek dangerous black market alternatives. A youth center should provide hormones to transgender youths. Rather than freely handing out hormones to anyone, and because of the individual nature of hormone replacement therapy, a system should be in place. A system where youths must attend group functions in order to receive hormones will ensure their participation, and hopefully teach responsibility. In conjunction with this, it would be very beneficial to have an agreement with a doctor who can check blood levels, prescribe correct dosages, and administer hormone shots.
Counselor — In order for transgender people to obtain hormones and receive other medical care and legal recognition letters from a counselor or therapist are needed. A youth center should have a counselor on staff who works with intersexed, transgendered and questioning youth, and has the authority to write any needed letters.
Transgender Staff Members — In order to ensure that youths receive appropriate and needed care and that youths have a staff member who they feel shares their experiences, at least one case worker should be intersexed or trans. A budy- or mentoring-system can be extremely beneficial.
A Safe Space — Intersexed and transgendered youth need a space in which they feel they can safely express themselves and be who they are. Many, if not most, do not have the luxury of self-expression at school, on the street, or even at home. Intersexed and transgendered youth need a comfortable environment free from antagonism about their physical development. Also, for those who cannot dress their gender at home, it is beneficial to have a locker room or similar place where transgender youth can store their "other" clothes, dress, apply makeup, go through their "transformation process".
Legal Services — Intersexed and transgendered people need several basic legal services that, without guidance, can be a very difficult ordeal. Legal counsel is needed for changing one's name—for which there are two established procedures—and for changing one's gender.
Education — Because many doctors do not know very much about intersexed and transgendered bodies, and because many of those that do follow the very outdated and very cruel "Benjamin Standards", intersexed and transgendered people need to know everything about their own medical needs. Books and up-to-date information on hormone replacement surgery and sex reassignment surgery should be available. Additionally, like with any youth, safer sex education should also be provided.
Housing — Because many intersexed and transgendered youth get kicked out of their homes, and frequently end up on the street, housing should be provided. Youth hostels are one source of housing, but few hostels are transgendered friendly. Most hostels have sections for males and females, and have difficulty accommodating someone outside that strict dichotomy. At least one hostel in each city should have the facilities to handle intersexed and transgendered people, this includes sleeping and changing quarters, and bathroom facilities. Because many IT people are forced into homelessness at a young age, they do not learn how to manage a home from their guardians. Consequently, when IT persons gain housing they do not know how to take care of or manage their home. IT people coming in off the streets seeking housing should be taught how to manage and care for a home.
Bathroom Facilities — Recognize that a person's gender is based in their brain, not in their genitals. IT people go to great lengths to appear as the gender they identify with, not just for personal comfort but for safety. Forcing a person to use bathroom facilities based on biological gender puts IT people in the very dangerous position of being flagged as a transsexual, effectively putting a flashing red bull's eye on them. If your building does not have unisex bathrooms, allow IT people to use the facilities of their gender identification or of the gender they are presenting themselves as.
Social Guidance — Transgender youth can be very transient and troubled people because of the harshness they experience from all sides. There tends to be a lot of infighting among the transgender community because there is a lot of individualism, and life is harsh for everyone. Frequently IT people must be individuals and spend their entire lives fighting to be outwardly who they are inside. Transgender youth are frequently abandoned by their families, and are not taught the social graces and disciplines that society expects people to follow.
Family Support — Many IT people are separated from their families and experience rejection when confronting their families about their situation. Provide information, phone numbers of support organizations, and or counseling for families of IT people to help them deal with their loved one's transition.
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