Though she was born a boy, Cecilia Gentili has known she was a girl since her earliest memories of childhood, but what it means to be transgender is only just starting to become mainstream knowledge. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
Cecilia Gentili's first memory is of trying to negotiate for something that many of us don't think twice about.
"Sitting in a room, you know, with my teacher, the principal, my mom, my psychologist, a psychiatrist, they had to explain to me why I couldn't use the girls bathroom, and from my point of view, they were all crazy," Gentili says.
They were "crazy" because Gentili knew she was a girl, even though she was born a boy. At age six, that feeling had nothing to do with an attraction to anyone.
"We know now that these are two different concepts. The idea of sexual orientation is who you are attracted to, whereas gender identity is the gender that you feel yourself to be," says Laura Erickson-Schroth, editor of the book "Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community."
Growing up in a small city in Argentina, Gentili felt alone and confused until college, when she met someone else like her.
"There was where I found out that it was a category for me in the world in the kind of people in the world, and I was trans," Gentili says.
That friend helped Gentili through her transition, a process done to affirm one's gender identity. It's an experience that can, but doesn't always, include hormones or having a sexual reassignment surgery, also known as a gender-affirming, conforming or genital reconstruction surgery.
"I do believe that hormones do not dictate my gender. They just aid," Gentili says.
Gentili shares her experience in the recently released book "Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community." It, among other things, tells the history of the transgender non-confirming community, discusses health and explains terms.
"Over times, the terms 'transgender' and 'cross-dresser' have often been confused. The older term that's not really used now and might be considered offensive to many people is 'transvestite.' These aren't terms that should be used by people outside of trans communities, so some of the terms you hear are 'pre-op' or 'post-op,'" Erickson-Schroth says.
A resource for both the transgender community and those outside of it, the goal is to provide clarity and open up a dialogue that leads to a more harmonious way of living.