The Emerging Transgender Identity: Navigating the Gender Galaxy

The development of one’s sexual and gender identity is a central task in one’s life. For transgender individuals, this task can be daunting. Does a Female-to-Male (FtM) individual who is sexually attracted to men identify as gay, straight, queer, or none of the above? Does this change based on surgical choices? How does the current discourse about gender and sexual binaries and spectrums play into how a transgender individual chooses to self-identify?

Bockting, Benner, & Coleman state, “Traditionally, transsexuals [sic] were described as women trapped in male bodies and men trapped in women’s bodies, reflecting a binary conceptualization of gender; treatment focused on helping transsexuals [sic] to change sex and pass as nontransgender men and women” (pg. 689.) However, in recent years, a unique transgender identity has begun to emerge. One participant in a study described this new identity as being based not on a binary, or even a spectrum, but recognizing that there is a “gender galaxy” (Bockting, et al., pg. 695); an unlimited world of possibilities for envisioning one’s sexual and gender identity. The emerging transgender identity takes the focus off passing and places it on coming out as a transgender individual. It rejects the notion of hiding from the past and seeks to integrate previous gendered experiences into one’s current identity. It questions rigid gender stereotypes that permeated the discourse in older trans generations. This paradigm shift allows the transgender community to create a space for connection, community, exploration, and visibility.

At IntraSpectrum Counseling, we are excited about this shift in discourse and believe that it will continue to create a more affirming and accepting world for transgender people to express their unique identity. IntraSpectrum Counseling offers a unique validating and supportive therapeutic environment that is focused on helping our clients discover their authentic selves, find their sources of strength, meaning, hope, and resiliency, and ultimately thrive in a sometimes-hostile world. All of our counselors have specialized training and experience working with LGBTQI clients. We offer a range of services including individual counseling, group counseling, gay relationship counseling, and transgender counseling in Chicago. We work with a diverse client base and are committed to meeting the needs of the LGBTQI community and beyond.

Bockting, W., Benner, A., & Coleman, E. (2009). Gay and Bisexual Identity Development Among Female-to-Male Transsexuals in North America: Emergence of a Transgender Sexuality. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 38(5), 688-701. doi:10.1007/s10508-009-9489-3

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