There are varying ideas of what constitutes gender identity, and the terms can meandifferent things to different people. The general consensus seems to be thattransgenderism refers to individuals who do not conform to the gender roleexpectations of their biological sex. This term can also generally be used to includetranssexualism, which refers to individuals who feel that their physical bodies do notrepresent their true gender (Lev, 2004). Transsexuals often want surgery to realisetheir bodies, others do not. Transgenderism can encompass many different terms suchas: male to female (MTF), female to male (FTM), transvestites, cross dressers, dragkings and queens. Generally, transvestites, cross-dressers and drag kings and queensdo not have an issue with their gender identity, and simply enjoy wearing clothesusually worn by members of the opposite sex, for many different reasons. Bigendered/ genderqueer individuals identify with some aspects of both genders, and androgynoustransgender individuals do not identify with either (SAMHSA, 2001). This reviewwill look at various key points in the life of the transgender individual, and willencompass attitudes, identity development, relationships, children and ageing.Several studies on transgenderism have revealed high rates of depression, anxiety andeating disorders among this population (Hepp, Kramer, Schnyder, Miller &Delsignore, 2005; Vocks, Stahn, Loenser & Tegenbaur, 2009). Recent research hasfound that emotional distress in this population may stem from the difficulties of
variant living in an often hostile social environment” (Cole et al., 2000,
p170). Adolescence in particular is a very difficult time, as many transgenderindividuals are physically, verbally and emotionally attacked by family members, co-workers, neighbours and even police officers for not conforming to socially accepted
gender rules (Balsam, Rothblum & Beauchaine, 2005; D‟Augelli, Grossman & Starks,
2006). Research on attitudes towards transgenderism is quite scarce. The area has
become more popular in recent years in the media however, with films such as „BoysDon't Cry‟ and „TransAmerica‟ having very much mainstream audiences. While
moves such as this may start some discussion, the overall area is still quite closed,with attitudes towards transgenderism seeming quite like those shown towardshomosexuals in decades gone by. For transgenderism to become more sociallyacceptable and to stop the abuse that is ongoing, education and information is key tochanging attitudes of the general public.