What's it really like to be transgender?

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1. A community in transition

Although the word transgender has only been in use for the past 40 years – as a community we have been around for thousands of years.

An umbrella term for people who feel their real gender is different from their birth gender, transgender people are referenced in almost every major religion and society - with varying degrees of tolerance and acceptance. For centuries in Britain we were a mainly hidden minority, afraid to come out for fear of losing our families, spouses, friends, jobs and lives as we knew them. Recent equality law has in theory helped safeguard our livelihoods and the introduction of same-sex marriage has meant we no longer have to divorce our partners if we choose to transition. But it is still not a decision that people make lightly.

Although we cannot access precise figures about the size of the UK's transgender population, the community is growing - what we can be sure of, is that each individual’s experience of living a trans life is entirely unique.

2. My transgender life

Rebecca Root talks about her personal experience of transitioning and life as a transgender female.

Rebecca Root at the Science Museum's Who Am I? exhibition.

3. Difficulties transgender people can face

When transgender people make the decision to come out as trans they can often encounter more difficulties

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4. Transforming attitudes?

Visibility and attitudes

Recently, the visibility and prominence of the transgender community in the media and society has increased dramatically.

Often considered the forgotten and underrepresented component of the LGBTI community - for decades trans people have been vilified, ridiculed and misunderstood by many in society. However a recent, seemingly insatiable, media interest in the subject is helping to pull the trans community out from the sidelines and placing them firmly in the spotlight. But is this visibility necessarily translating to a shift in attitudes and acceptance of this long marginalised community?

5. No big deal

How might the transgender community gain acceptance and understanding by mainstream society?

Celebrity transitions

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Celebrity transitions

Caitlyn Jenner made 2015's Woman's Hour Power List of top 10 influencers – honoured for bringing the experience of being a trans woman to a global audience.


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Groups like Gendered Intelligence hope to educate the public about trans issues and work with institutions such as the Wellcome Collection and The Roundhouse.

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The DVLA has recently joined other government agencies, banks and universities in allowing the gender-neutral marker Mx to be selected on its forms.

Trans on TV

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TV and film

The BBC has produced the UK's first transgender sitcom Boy Meets Girl and Eastenders has announced plans to include a trans character.