Raiden Wallace, 16, from Edward M. Kennedy High School, always felt like his body “just doesn’t feel right.” When he hit puberty, he realized that “this isn’t the body I want.” So he embarked on a journey to find his true identity—inside and out.
It was a struggle for Wallace to embrace his true self. He didn’t know how people would react. As he got older, he stopped caring about what people had to say. “I love myself,” Wallace says proudly as a thriving, beautiful, transgender male.
There are millions of people who are part of the LGBTQ community worldwide. People who are not part of this community may be confused about the difference between gender and sexual orientation. Sexuality and gender are both important when it comes to who you are and how you live. Equally important is understanding the differences.
Being transgender is about gender identity. According to the American Psychological Association, the term “transgender” is used to describe people whose gender identity is different from the sex they were given at birth.
A transgender male or female can express their gender by changing the way they dress and changing their behaviors to match their identified gender. Hormones and surgery can be an important part of the transgender journey towards self discovery. “I believe identity is a journey,” said Robyn Ochs, a bisexual activist, speaker, and writer. She believes that identity is powerful and meaningful.
According to the American Psychological Association, there are three classified sexual orientations: heterosexual (attraction to the opposite sex), gay (attraction to the same sex), and bisexual (attraction towards both sexes). This includes emotional, romantic and sexual attraction.
Difference Between The Two
People often confuse gender and sexuality. Others think they’re both the same thing, but they’re not. Sexuality is whom you’re attracted to, and gender identity is who you are. It’s better to ask and question than to assume.
We need to realize that people who belong to the LGBTQ community are just like everyone else. The Trevor Project is a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention to young people within the LGBT community. Their studies show that the suicide attempt rate is about four times greater for LGBT and two times greater for questioning youth than that of straight youth.
“There’s too much shame in the world,” Ochs said. “There’s too much invalidation of our experiences.”
Many students experience depression because of unacceptance. When they have no one to go to, some feel hopeless and turn to self-harm or suicide. We need to do more to support each other regardless of our differences. We’re all human, right? Let’s all treat each other that way.