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Transitioning: a journey to self-discovery

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Transitioning is a delicate subject matter. Those who embark on this journey initially feel a strong sense of physical and psychological discomfort as they don’t identify with the gender assigned at birth. June, Pride Month, is especially dedicated to sensitising on and supporting the LGBTQIA2S+ community. It’s an opportunity to look deeper into the needs of people who belong to a gender different from that assigned at birth. 

Gender dysphoria refers to a mismatch between one’s gender identity and biological sex. It manifests through physical, psychological and relational discomfort. Often, those who are affected by this, beyond having to go through the strenuous journey of transitioning, deal with prejudice, misunderstandings and stigma. 

«People aren’t educated enough to understand and accept people with gender dysphoria. A lot of the time, these people are diminished or pushed aside. It’s also a social condition that should be talked about more», comments Dr. Mauro Barone, specialist in aesthetic plastic and reconstructive surgery, and researcher in biomedical sciences integrated with bioethics at the Policlinico Campus Biomedico of Rome. 

Plastic surgery is what makes transitioning a real transformation. It allows people to change gender. However, as Barone underlines, it’s necessary to use a multidisciplinary approach since transitioning involves all aspects of a person’s life. A team of specialists is important to help the patient in every aspect, like pieces of a puzzle, they rebuild their identity so they can finally recognise the person they see in the mirror. 

Feeling comfortable with transitioning

Feeling comfortable in one’s body is what pushes people to embark on this journey. Having a strong support system within the family is important and not always guaranteed. Today, it seems that more and more people are accepting and tolerant. This is what Giulia Lo Russo, a doctor specialising in aesthetic, plastic, and reconstructive surgery, claims. «Those who accompany patients are a lot calmer than they would have been a few years ago. For example, there are mothers who bring gifts for when the patient wakes up after the surgery»

People who understand are essential. It can make a huge difference even in how patients face transitioning. The presence of family who listen, sympathise and provide support positively impacts a patient’s mental health and wellbeing, overcoming preconceptions that impede the process of acceptance. 

The chance to be oneself, without the need of hiding due to fear of violence, insults and discrimination, shouldn’t be a privilege but a right. Giovanni Roggero, president of the A.GE.D.O. Association of Turin, highlights «There are people who believe being homosexual or transgender is a choice, but that’s just a stereotype: are we to believe a person would choose to have a difficult life, to be bullied, made fun of, or not find a job?».

The concept of gender is evolving from being classified as binary to fluid

Gender dysphoria is a condition that can manifest at a very young age. This is why it’s a topic that needs to be treated carefully. The psychological impact that it can have often requires professional support for the children and the parents. 

Preventing discomfort and suffering in young people with gender dysphoria means promoting an inclusive and tolerant society. 

The way we perceive gender is changing. From a traditional binary classification of  “male” and “female”, there are now new perspectives. In fact, more non-binary genders are emerging as gender is now perceived as being fluid. Gender is a social construct that involves identity, expression and gender roles. This means it’s important to consider how a person feels, expresses themselves and cultural expectations when discussing this topic. 
As Dr. Damiana Massara, psychologist and psychotherapist at ASLTo5, observes, we are witnessing a revolution in how people perceive gender identity. «I’m convinced that gender identity is fluid, non-binary and individualised. This is the revolution that this younger generation is bringing forward in the world».

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