FAQ’s About Transgender or Intersex Survivors
1. What does it mean to be transgender or intersex?
Transgender is an umbrella term for individuals whose gender expression and how they feel about themselves do not match typical societal norms for their biological sex. For example, this may include men who act more feminine than what society says a “real man” should act. Another example is cross-dressers, which is a term used for men who identify as men and who desire to wear women’s clothes. Those who are transsexual want to change their body to look more male or female to match how they feel inside.
This means that there could be participants at the Weekend of Recovery who are biological females but who have experienced themselves for all or most of their life as male and masculine. They have suffered considerable anxiety/pain because of the difference between how they feel and how their body looks. It’s different from having a negative body image. They may or may not be taking hormones and/or have had surgery to change their bodies to better match how they identify inwardly. They now live life as a man and/or identify closer to being male. Sometimes their gender can’t be summed up by either of the two polarized gender options of being male or female.
Intersex is a general term used for a variety of medical conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person may have the chromosomes of a woman, but external genitals that appear male. Or a person may be born with genitals that can’t be easily classified as male or female or have some male and some female sex characteristics.
2. What are the reasons MaleSurvivor has put this policy into place?
The Weekend of Recovery program has included gender diversity since its inception; however, as the program has evolved, we have recognized the need to reach out to clarify how broadly our invitation for inclusion extends. This new policy is meant to formalize that we are now inviting male-identified transgender and intersex survivors to register and attend.
3. Will the weekends be different?
The structure will remain the same with a mixture of small and large group sessions. The primary difference may be that participants will have the opportunity to explore issues of masculinity and gender role in a deeper and more diverse manner.
4. How do trans/intersex survivors fit within the MS community?
We have a deep commitment that all survivors need to have a safe place for healing and recovery. Because the Weekends of Recovery are meant to be a male-identified space, we feel it is beneficial to clarify that our weekends are welcoming to any survivor who is male-identified at the time they attend one of our Weekends.
5. If I’m transgender, what can I expect if I attend?
One objective of the Weekend of Recovery is to treat all participants with respect, and this includes being referred to with male pronouns, regarding your story and experiences uniquely and with value, and treating you equally. Our facilitator team is trained in gender and transgender/intersex issues and will do what we can to protect you from discrimination during the weekend.
6. What can/should I do if I feel uncomfortable around trans individuals?
Feel free to ask any questions and express any concerns with any of the members of the Leadership Team before the Weekend of Recovery and any of the facilitators during the Weekend. The Weekends of Recovery are a place to explore and examine personal fears, prejudices, and needs and to consider reaching out and offering understanding and acceptance to others, which is typically denied survivors.