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For the final journal entry, I will be commenting on trans issues.

There were many important issues that our guest speaker addressed during her presentation to the class. First, she clarified the difference between trans and cis. Generally, the term ‘trans’ means something that changes or transitions, it refers to specifically gender-variance, and can be used as an identifier for transsexuals and for transgender individuals. The term ‘cis’ on the other hand, generally means something that stays put or does not change, and can be used in identification as cissexual or cisgender person. Being trans or cis has nothing to do with your sexual orientation, but only with your sex/gender presentation/experience.

Of great importance to me as a counsellor, the guest speaker went into some detail about the violence that transwomen may experience from their partners. Transwomen often experience internal struggles with negotiating body image and gender, and this is something that abusive partners may take advantage of. Abusive partners can seize/hide/throw out hormones, dilators. Abusive partners can make negative and oppressive comments about the woman’s body. These acts, while not physically violent or abusive, are violent in another way: they take away what is most important for the woman, which are the tools necessary to keep her female body (transwomen need to keep up their hormones and use their dilators, or testosterone levels will rise, menopause will hit, and the outcome of surgeries will be ruined).

The guest speaker also talked about trans issues at the social and political level. Cissexism and cisnormativity, which refer to the privileging of, and invisible normalcy and assumptions associated with being cisgender. Transphobia, is the irrational fear and/or hatred of trans or gender-variant people. We see cissexism and cisnormativity in employment discrimination, in public washrooms which force people to identify as ‘man’ or ‘woman’, in the lack of support and resources available for transpersons, in the effects of bullying, and in the hundreds of transpersons who are murdered every year. As a counsellor-in-training for all women who experience violence, I must be aware of the issues that affect transwomen, and this session proved to be extremely useful.

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