Review: Transgender Visibility Guide

Just a day or two ago I became aware of this wonderful new resource.  The Transgender Visibility Guide (click for website or brochure pdf) was published by the HRC just last month.  I was a little unsure of what to expect as the HRC can be at times a little radical in their push for LGBT rights.   (It’s a well-intentioned organization, of course, sometimes they just take some stances or make some arguments that I disagree with.)  Upon reading the brochure any reservations I had promptly dissolved.

This brochure provides a wonderful introduction to the misunderstood concepts of gender identity and gender expression.  Its 32 pages introduce and address important topics, spending the bulk of the time on all the intricacies related to coming out.  That’s not to say the brochure is overly limited, however, as other important and related concepts, ranging from personal acknowledgement of one’s gender identity to concerns related to transitioning are discussed in a very informative and appropriate manner.

The brochure takes a very realistic and unbiased approach to how individuals with gender dysphoria can assess their feelings and options.  I was relieved to see that little outside of personal acknowledgement and acceptance was advocated for, as I think that there exist many appropriate ways to deal with gender dysphoria and that these decisions need to be made thoughtfully and personally.  The brochure is very clear in listing some of the pros and cons of the different options in addition to what to expect as one works through the process of understanding the confusing feelings of gender dysphoria.

The pages dedicated to coming out to others are also very helpful.  Critical information is provided about the important questions of “who” should be told and “when.”  It talks specifically about what to expect when telling a spouse, parents, and children – all critical relationships that can be greatly affected by disclosure of gender dysphoria.  There is also a helpful section for family and friends of individuals that experience gender dysphoria.

The last few pages have a helpful glossary of the often-confusing terms relating to gender dysphoria along with some common misunderstandings related to transgender individuals (Myths and Facts).  The HRC defines transgender a little more expansive than I have come to understand it – for them, it includes both gender identity and gender expression that deviates from physical gender.  Perhaps that’s the direction the community is moving, but to me transgender is limited to more identity aspects (which results in removing cross-dressers out from the transgender label as they have a different gender expression than their body’s gender but not a different gender identity).  It’s not a huge issue either way, really.

Because the HRC is an activism group, a few pages are dedicated to current law or other inequalities and persecution that transgender people often suffer in today’s society (Ten Things Every American Ought to Know).  It’s sad that transgender individuals are discriminated against.  I think the best way to combat this, however, is not to stir people up to action by citing injustices, but rather to educate, and that’s where I think this pamphlet really shines.  I’ve never seen such a well-structured and informative resource in one place.

I wish I had had something like this 20 years ago.  I’m so happy that wonderful resources like this exist now.  If you experience gender dysphoria, if you know someone who does, or even if you simply want to understand better, then please check it out!

(I have no connection to the HRC, and don’t necessarily agree or disagree with any of their current or past policies.  I’m only promoting this brochure because of the excellent information contained therein!)

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