Many transgendered report that learning about others in the same situation was one of the most important turning points in their lives.
The fact that others learn about transgenderism may be equally important. It is easier to talk about this with your friends and family if they already know about the phenomenon, and especially if it has been presented in a positive light.
In Scandinavia homosexuality has become more and more accepted.
In the 1970' a homsexual activist in the Conservative Party was ousted from her position. In this century we have witnessed a Conservative Minister of Finance bringing his partner to a royal dinner. Few seemed to find that disturbing.
This week the main street of Oslo will be filled with banners celebrating homsexuals and the transgendered. The celebration is headed by Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess of Norway, Mette Marit, (picture above) and the Major of Oslo (yet another conservative gay activist!).
Mette Marit's husband, the Crown Prince Håkon, is attending the The World Professional Association for Transgender Health conference in Oslo this week, as is the Norwegian Minister for Children and Equality.
Tone Maria Hansen, leader of the Harry Benjamin Ressursenter in Norway, an organisation that is arranging the conference, says that they consciously strive to put this work on the public agenda:
"Many continue to look at us as strange and special human beings," she says, "and there is very little knowledge about this."
She underlines that even if the diagnosis is called transsexualism, this is not the identity of the person:
"We are not talking about 'changing sex'," she says. "We call it 'confirming our gender'.".
Aftenposten -- one of the major newspapers in the country -- is covering the event with newspaper articles on trangenderism, life stories etc.
A promising start
I know perfectly well that transgenderism is a forbidden topic in many countries and communities. Still, the fact this kind of positive exposure is even possible gives me hope.
If there is anything that bothers me with all this, however, it must be the fact that the way transgenderism is communicated gives the reader the impression that there is only one paradigm available: "men trapped in women's bodies" or "women trapped in mens".
For many transgendered it isn't that simple (if we can use the word "simple" for something as traumatic as this). For many of us this isn't about a binary system where you are a man or a woman, but about facing very confusing mix of the masculine and the feminine. We do not have a well developed language for that kind of transgenderism -- yet.